Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, January 29, 2010

BREAKINGBLOGnews--Is This Edgar's Airport Plan

Quick somebody. Contact Sandra. Contact Lufthansa and put that consulting agreement on hold before we waste another $300,000. That's about half the cost for the daycares!

Airports are not a good business these days as Edgar and Pat may have learned from Robin Hood Airport and their Merry Men.

There's new shocking information that should be of concern to Members of Council specifically because they approved spending the money for a foreign consultant and to the Members of the Board of the Windsor Airport but most especially to taxpayers and to the Ontario Government which is putting in most of the cash for the study.

In a word or three: Do not bother!

Does anyone think that the people who run Robin Hood Airport in England would be impressed by this remark published by the Star:
  • "Windsor Airport currently offers direct flights to Toronto, Cuba and Pelee Island -- the latter two only in winter -- but the sky could soon be the limit."

Is that the kind of airport, miles away from any significant city in Canada, with whom you would want to partner? If a service from the UK from the Doncaster airport to Hamilton could not make it, and it is just an hour from Toronto by car, then why would any airline want to come here when it is so far from Toronto? If people want to go to Detroit, they would fly into Metro.

There had to be a different reason why they would bother meeting with Edgar (aka Eddie). I think I figured it out. Read on.

Did our Mayor and the Undevelopment Commission VP, who spent those nice pleasant days overseas at our expense, do their homework in advance before leaving to decide whether Robin Hood should be our partner. You might not think so after reading this:

  • "Robin Hood Airport passenger numbers tumble by up to 30%

    PASSENGER numbers at Doncaster's airport are plunging and on course for their worst year since it opened in 2005.

    Figures just released by the Civil Aviation Authority show that only 99,000 people flew from Robin Hood Airport last month, compared to more than 130,000 at its peak in August 2007.

    Aviation experts predict Doncaster Sheffield Airport will have its worst annual figures since 2005 when it was operational for just over eight months after the maiden flight in April of that year.

    But airport chiefs say all regional airports have been affected by the recession and they are confident they can ride out the storm."

Now that was written in September, 2009. What traffic could they send here with declining volumes? And yes, the economy is a convenient scape-goat for everything.

If you think that is bad, then what will you think of this:

  • "[Doncaster Chamber of Commerce Chief executive Stephen Shore] added:

    "I think everybody agrees that Robin Hood needs to do two things - get in a low-cost no-frills carrier and try and forge a link with a hub airport in Europe such as Schiphol or Charles de Gaulle to connect with long-haul flights."

DUH...nothing there about partnering with an airport like Windsor for trans-Atlantic flights.

Then look at this which is even worse that was just reported the other day that makes upgrading YQG for cargo very risky and a questionable investment:

  • "Durham Tees Valley Airport chiefs in investment talks

    THE owner of Durham Tees Valley Airport (DTVA) has confirmed it is in discussions with potential investment partners for its loss-making airports division.

    Peel Group’s airports operation has seen losses escalate by more than 15% following a slump in passenger numbers.

    The group, which also owns airports at Liverpool and Doncaster, said talks with potential suitors were “ongoing” but the nature of the joint venture had not yet been decided.

    The possibility of a new investor taking a majority stake in the airports division has not been ruled out."

The airport business is a disaster and Edgar thinks it is our salvation! Give me a break. If we wanted a study, why didn't we do what Cleveland did:

  • "Urban planners are taking a fresh look at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport as a magnet for development much like the region's highways or the banks of the Cuyahoga River...

    Now, Cleveland State University researchers are examining whether the idea is workable for Hopkins. They were hired under a $63,000 contract by the cities of Berea, Brook Park, Cleveland, Olmsted Falls and Parma, and the airport, to explore what role Hopkins can play as a nucleus of economic development."

That City used a local University and paid them lunch money to research an Aerotropolis of the region. Why would we hire Lufthansa and pay them so much?

OMG, could it be? No, not possible. No he would not dare do it. But why not, Windsor Airport has been "privatized" under Edgar so he can do what he wants. Could this be why the money for Lufthansa's fees came out of the City and not the Airport bank acount? We know the City pays a fee every month to the airport. Was Edgar as head of YQG trying to build up a big nest-egg? If so, why?

Oh no, I get it now. He needs the money for a downpayment!

The guy who wants Venetian-type canals here, a Champs-Élysées on Huron Church, who wanted a Chunnel to the border and who flies to Europe at the drop of a hat, even for a day, may want to buy a European airport, Robin Hood Airport, or maybe the whole bunch owned by Peel Group! They are looking for an investor after all. And Lufthansa, they operate out of their hub at Frankfurt. Didn't Doncaster think it made sense to "forge a link with a hub airport in Europe."

It all fits together so nicely. This is huge!

Edgar would not go over just to land a charter flight from England here perhaps once a week or so--that is what Ms. Nazzani does. Nope he had bigger ambitions as did Sandra who was so proud when Red Bull was here since she was in France. She might like to own a share of a European airport too for her overseas extravaganzas:

  • "Pupatello said she was at the Paris Air Show last year when she saw Windsor's Red Bull event being profiled on a French television.

    "It was unbelievable ... there I was on the other side of the world, watching my city," she said, predicting "a stellar weekend for us."

Ridiculous you say. Come on now, Edgar was prepared to spend $75M on an international Tunnel that is losing money, backed an international DRIC bridge which will be a financial disaster and wanted to have the Senior Levels spend a few hundred extra millions on our version of the Chunnel, an approach road to an international crossing.

Why not own an international airport to link with his own domestic airport and have his own private international route connection! Airport to airport. No one does that. This is Edgar's kind of deal---makes no sense economically but puts us, or rather him, on the world's stage with our money!

Mindboggling in scope.

Now this all makes sense: Robin Hood airport---take from rich Windsorite taxpayers and give to poor Peel Group investors.

Has MDOT Lost $1.6B For Michigan Roads

Here is the ultimate stupidity of DRIC as shown in a Detroit Free Press headline and why the whole process was a total lie from start to now. I won't say "finish" because there are around a dozen lawsuits started with many more to come that will take a decade or more to litigate:
  • "State seeks private help on bridge"

DUH... they already have a real public/private partnership in place with the best border operator between Canada and the US. Matty Moroun wants to build an Enhancement Bridge at his existing location which will NOT require any family or business to move as DRIC would and he will build it at his own expense without risk to or subsidy from taxpayers.

For some reason that has never truly been stated publicly, the Governments want to drive him out of business instead and put in another private partner in his place.

I wish a legislator in Michigan would say that he/she has had enough of being used by MDOT and treated with contempt as it goes on spending money on the DRIC project. It is not as if MDOT has money to fix existing roads and bridges in the State. It is hundreds of millions of dollars short with hundreds of projects on hold.

The Michigan Attorney-General also has a serious legal question to answer too. I wish he would deal with that as I shall discuss below.

First though, do you understand now why the Bridge Company put a condition on its offer to use its expenditures for toll credits for MDOT. The condition was that MDOT could not use that money for use in the DRIC project, the Bridge Company competitor.

Perhaps the Free Press Editors will agree that the "strings" attached make sense
  • "Moroun, who wants to build a wider bridge adjacent to his current one, does not want money from his operation used for match on anything that would hurt his project, especially work related to the Detroit River International Crossing study."

Barely a few days after the offer was made, this press release comes out of MDOT


    CONTACT: Bill Shreck, Director of Communications, 517-335-3084

    MDOT issues Request for Proposal of Interest in
    Detroit-Windsor border crossing system

    January 27, 2010 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is asking individual firms and teams to respond to a Request for Proposal of Interest in partnering on the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) project.

    The Request for Proposal of Interest follows a series of informal interviews that MDOT and Transport Canada, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, conducted with major developers, contractors and lenders who had previously been involved in similar large privately-financed transportation infrastructure projects. This step involves a solicitation of market interest in the project that would provide the Michigan Legislature and the Canadian government with more information to formulate governmental policy and develop a procurement and transaction schedule. The deadline for individual firms or teams to submit responses to the Request for Proposal of Interest is March 17.

    Responses will be used by MDOT in a required report to the Michigan Legislature that MDOT will submit by May 1. State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle says the stage is being set to form a public-private partnership that will move the DRIC project forward.

    "At this point, we are considering a model that would incorporate some participation by the private sector in financing, design, construction, engineering and maintenance," Steudle said. "Although we have not yet finalized what that model will eventually look like, we know there are a number of teams out there eagerly anticipating the start of work on this historic project that will create jobs and keep international trade flowing across the border as efficiently as possible."

    According to MDOT, preliminary feedback indicates there is extensive interest and experience in the market for projects of this type and that, aside from some geotechnical engineering issues, there are no substantial construction complexities involved. Given the anticipated tolled nature of the border crossing, MDOT says there are several public-private partnership models ranging from real tolls to availability payments that could be applied to the DRIC under current market conditions.

    The Record of Decision for the DRIC, issued Jan. 14, 2009, by the FHWA, provides environmental clearance for right of way acquisition and construction planning for the proposed new bridge. MDOT and Transport Canada, in close coordination with the FHWA and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, are jointly pursuing the development of the DRIC.

    The proposed project is an end-to-end solution that includes the I-75 interchange and U.S. inspection plaza in Detroit; a new bridge over the Detroit River; and the Canadian plaza in Windsor, Ontario. The Canadian access road, known as The Windsor-Essex Parkway, will extend Highway 401 in Windsor to the new bridge, and is an integral part of the proposed end-to-end solution. The Windsor-Essex Parkway is under separate procurement and will not be part of the plaza-bridge procurement.

    More information about the DRIC and the Request for Proposal of Interest is available on the Border Transportation Partnership Web site at

However, what you do not see in the Press release is this document, the Request for Proposal of Interest itself that can be viewed at

Note especially the Front Page:

How can this be? Somehow the Canadian Government is jointly and directly involved in a supposed MDOT solicitation to meet the requirements of the Michigan Legislature although Canada's role is not mentioned in the Press Release. I wonder why not! Shouldn't the first sentence of the release start off saying MDOT AND Transport Canada...

Here is where the legal issue comes in that the Michigan AG should consider. Consider this section of the MDOT Budget authorization dealing with how MDOT may deal with DRIC:

  • "Sec. 384. (1) The department may continue with preliminary legal, financial, traffic and revenue study, permitting, engineering, and other ancillary work for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) so that it can solicit from the private sector requests for proposals for public-private partnerships to construct the bridge, plaza, and related infrastructure. The department shall submit proposals to the legislature by May 1, 2010. Those activities associated with the DRIC project shall not bind the state in any way to construction,
    (2) The department shall submit an investment grade traffic study to the legislature by May 1, 2010 from a reputable traffic company with appropriate experience intended to provide a detailed traffic projection for the ensuing 10 years, taking into account projected infrastructure modifications, expansions, and improvements announced.
    (3) The department shall not expend more than $2,500,000.00 from state transportation revenue sources for activities enumerated in this section.
    (4) It is the intent of the legislature to fully adopt or reject authorizing legislation by the full legislative bodies by June 1, 2010 to do all of the following:
    (a) Construct a new international crossing jointly and in agreement with Canada.
    (b) Create an authorized tolling authority.
    (c) Create a public-private partnership.

Has MDOT in fact thumbed its nose at the Legislature nose by starting the process to choose a P3 operator even though there is no legislation in place and the Legislature has not approved the project going forward as their Budget Act requires.

Let's be real, this is NOT MDOT merely "[soliciting} from the private sector requests", this is MDOT and Canada starting the process by obtaining expressions of interest:

  • "1. Introduction
    1.1. Purpose of this Request for Proposal of Interest

    The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Transport Canada (TC) are pleased to present this Request for Proposal of Interest (RFPOI) to individual firms or teams with experience in developing and/or financing large transportation infrastructure projects either in North America or internationally and that are interested in the development of the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC or Project) under one or more public-private partnerships. Individual firms or teams interested in responding to this request (“Respondents”) are invited, on a non-binding basis, to express their interest in the project.

    MDOT and TC are looking forward to the feedback of the private sector in response to this RFPOI. The responses will be used in developing governmental policy, in structuring the procurement process and the project agreement, as well as briefing the legislative branch of the State of Michigan and the executive branch of the Government of Canada."

This is NOT what section 384 says at all nor was it the Legislature's intent.

While I believe that the document was designed to make it appear that it was an MDOT document that complied with the section, I suspect that Transport Canada had more than a hand in it. There are 2 glaring mistakes made in it that tell me that MDOT's role was minor. Maybe I am wrong but one day I hope we shall find out the truth whether Transport Canada was the real author

It cannot be an MDOT document when everything significant talks about "MDOT and/or TC." As an example:

  • "MDOT and/or TC are under no obligation as a result of this process and may decide not to proceed with any or all of the transactions contemplated herein or may proceed with such transaction or transactions by any other procurement means or delivery model deemed fit."

  • "MDOT and/or TC reserve the right to alter any of this document, including any conditions and criteria outlined herein which may include, but is not limited to, deadlines for submissions. MDOT and/or TC reserve the right to cancel this RFPOI process at any time. MDOT and/or TC will make notification of any alterations or cancellations of this document by posting notice on the following website"

In other words, this document was prepared to meet Canada's timetable and its plan to put the Bridge Company out of business. And to make sure that MDOT cannot back out since it is a "joint" document

This document is how MDOT is ignoring the Legislature as if it did not exist.

This is a MegaProject that is running amok! And what is the lame-duck Governor doing about it?

Daycare Help

A reader told me that this school might be an alternative in case anyone is interested if the City's daycare centres are closed down.

By the way, will the Mayor be able to participate in the daycare debate? We learned during the CUPE strike:
  • "According to Michelle Prince, the mayor's wife, about 25 sign-toting CUPE members arrived on Huntington Avenue in South Windsor around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, just as Francis was preparing to take his two-year-old daughter Sienna to a private daycare."

Perhaps the Integrity Commissionet can answer the question if he is rehired. Isn't he supposed to be at Council on Monday?

Dwight's Red Bull Math

In my opinion, the political deal has been sealed between Dwight and Edgar (aka Eddie).

They did not meet about DRIC recently but rather about local politics involving what each has decided to do for their own future I would guess. A truce has been arrived at. How else to explain the $10M for Red Bull for 2 years covering both the provincial and municipal elections when a provincial health lab is allowed to close and there is no money for daycare supposedly.

Poor Bill Marra. Has he been sacrificed again? It's just my opinion obviously but the Star Red Bull Editorial has confirmed to me that every possible step will be taken to ensure that Councillor Marra can never be Mayor whether Edgar runs or not!

Of course, Bill has it within his own ability and power to beat them. But will he sit it out this time and run for Council, waiting again for a more appropriate time to run for Mayor, whenever that is? To me, if he does, he will never be a serious candidate for Mayor again.

Can you believe the rah, rah, rah from the Star without a hint of scrutiny about the Red Bull deal:

  • "Picture it. As many as 200 corporate and private planes lined up at Windsor Airport. Luxury hotel rooms and local restaurants filled to capacity. Jet-setters from around the world descending on Windsor...

    MPPs Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello clearly understand the race's importance to Windsor and the province.

    There's the enormous economic impact, to be sure...

    This is what we're all hoping for in terms of international exposure and economic stimulus."

Heck they should have been examining what value the race has had in Windsor since it has been held here twice already. What examples can be pointed to that justify another $10M going directly into a private company at the expense of local festivals. As a reader wrote:

  • "Went to A Canada South Festival meeting yesterday.

    There are a lot of unhappy people that have been mistreated...

    Chris Ryan has his job cut out for him. He's got some great ideas, but only if he is allowed to implement them.

    Red Bull didn't come up but there was some reference in chatting.

    The local festivals pay membership and support the tourism board yet the board will spend a gross amount of time with Red Bull activities. They have to. That's a lot of resources tied up to do one week.

    Few more facts....

    The local festivals in Essex host well over a million spectators a year. They have to apply for government funding of which takes brutally long hours and competition against each other.

    In the end the city gives zero dollars yet benefits from thousands of volunteer hours every year.

    The subsidy the festivals get is so low per person, it's difficult to calculate. Red Bull is getting $18 per person based on last year's numbers.

    They do not have to compete for the funds, nor do they provide benefits for partners in tourism or collaborations with other festivals and events. As a prerequisite, the government wants applying festivals to partner with each other to spread the funds around.

    The average person has no idea how much Red Bull will make in a race week. Dwight claims $100 million in one week. Even New York won't claim that much.

    Since the economic activity is so high, the city should be reaping huge benefits and have no reason to cut day care or complain about fireman's wages.

    Let's face it, the city stands to do very well, according to Edgar and Dwight, when Red Bull flies into town.

    So why are they so worried about money?"
Should one question instead whether Dwight Duncan should remain as Minister of Finance the way he plays with numbers.

Now I cannot get my head around all of those numbers in the Budget and what they mean. I am not a numbers guy. But I start to have some doubts about Dwight when I hear him and then Sandra and Edgar (aka Edgar) toss the Red Bull numbers around. That $10m number is not so hard to understand.

Or maybe, I should attribute it to the amnesia pandemic. Clearly, it has serious long-term effects that have never been considered by medical researchers if poor Dwight cannot remember what happened only a year ago. Dwight must have sucked in all of that unscrubbed Tunnel exhaust when he was a Councillor here and it still impacts his memory.

Let me fisk part of this Star story:
  • "Red Bull returns
    Ontario pays $10M to guarantee local stop for 2 years

    The "Formula One of the sky" is coming back to Windsor this summer and the next. [Two year deal. Good for Edgar if he runs this year and even better for Sandra and Dwight for their provincial election next year. Is this what they really talked about at their meeting earlier this month?]

    Hosting a local stopover on the Red Bull Air Race World Championship circuit doesn't come cheap -- Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Ontario is committing up to $10 million over the coming two years to be the Canadian leg's lead sponsor. But the benefits, both immediate and potentially long-term, are huge, the Windsor-Tecumseh MPP said Friday in announcing the June 5 and 6 event. [No it does not come cheap considering it was $3.2 M before for ONE year. Oh, and how much did Edgar pull in as sponsorship money? What increased the value other than political expediency? Has anyone ever done an audit and quantified exactly what the benefits are giving that money to local festivals as an example rather than to a profit making group like Red Bull. How much is being given to the Windsor International Air Show since it deals with airplanes too?]

    "Last year, the Windsor race attracted a viewership of over one billion people worldwide ... it's an enormous tourism marketing opportunity for this community," he said. [Funny, even Red Bull does not use a number like that and says on its website
  • "As the Red Bull Air Race World Championship reaches a vast global audience of over 300 million in more than 180 countries via its television programme"

Exactly how many people came to this region from the one billion people who watched on TV?]

Drawing almost 300,000 spectators to the riverfront last year, the 2010 event is anticipated to generate "hundreds of millions of dollars in spinoff benefits to the community," Duncan said in a joint announcement with fellow cabinet minister and Windsor West MPP Sandra Pupatello and Mayor Eddie Francis. "The Red Bull pours in a most immediate economic stimulus, filling up hotel rooms, filling up restaurants," said Francis. [Red Bull says the

  • "Race attracts an average audience of 400,000 at each race. Even back in 1909 in Reims the air race drew in a crowd of 300,000."

We have not progressed much since then have we. But here are some more facts that Dwight has forgotten it seems. 750,000 people attended in year one of the Red Bull race. Red Bull expected a million in year two but only 290,000 people came last year (220,000 here and 70,000 in Detroit). Not a good sign for year 3 since it is the same old, same old at high admission prices for a people who have financial woes. As for the great benefits, go back and check the singular lack of stories from businesspeople who were pleased.

Oh Dwight, "hundreds of millions of dollars in spinoff benefits to the community." Last year, you only were "Estimating that the event generated $100million in economic activity."

Hundreds of millions... "The championship tournament of men's NCAA basketball is expected to generate $30 million to $50 million in economic spinoff for the area -- including more than $3 million in Windsor." Most of the 1800 hotel rooms in Windsor were filled with out-of-towners for the weekend too.

Oh Dwight, "Francis figures the Super Bowl will bring in between $80 to $100 million to Windsor and help the city attract a CFL expansion team." Boy, was he wrong. The reality which I believe to be overstated:

  • "The numbers are in for the impact of February's Super Bowl XL on Windsor's economy, but there are differing views on how successful the event actually was.

    The city's role in co-hosting the big game with Detroit in February resulted in a cash injection of "at least" $20.3 million into the local economy, according to the local convention bureau Gordon Orr...

    But Coun. Alan Halberstadt said the success of the event was more spotty than organizers would have the city believe. "Remember they were talking about an impact of $80 million to $100 million, so $20 million would be somewhat short," Halberstadt said...

    Exit surveys conducted by the Detroit Host Committee, in conjunction with figures supplied by the NFL, showed the average guest spent $339 per day during their visit and the typical visitor stayed for 2.8 days, resulting in $9,265,209 in direct spending for accommodation alone in the Windsor area.

    Orr added that a standard formula, traditionally used by municipalities and convention bureaus assessing the economic impact of an event, is to take the amount spent on accommodation and multiply that by a factor of 2.2, to arrive $20.3 million in estimated economic benefits to the community."

Red Bull is more like Wrestlemania I would think. Remember the hype:

  • "This is going to be huge," vowed Carl DeMarco, president of WWE Canada. "It will be an incredible economic impact for Windsor. People are going to fill up your hotels and restaurants.

    This is our Super Bowl event...

    DeMarco, who headed Wrestlemania 18 in Toronto, said it attracted people from around the world.

    Asked what the influx of WWE fans will bring to this city, DeMarco responded: "Money and spending power. There will be economic benefits. In Toronto, it was a huge success, not only for Toronto, but the surrounding cities. "

The reality was different:

  • "WrestleMania 23, which rattles Ford Field Sunday night, will not generate as much economic spinoff as did Super Bowl XL in Detroit last year because it doesn't attract corporate attendees.

    "It's more of a regional event," Orr said, noting that
    Windsor hotel rooms have not had much increase in bookings.

    "Rooms are not required for the majority of ticket holders."

Isn't this stange too, how Gord Orr justified our spending of $60K to be a WWE sponsor. Sounds familair doesn't it:

  • "The benefit of the event has been the advertising and exposure that Windsor has received," Orr said, noting WWE superstar appearances in town and references to Windsor on WWE posters and its website.

    "We're proud of our sponsorship."]

The province had to dig much deeper into its pockets -- the $5 million per year is a significant jump over last year's $3.2-million commitment. [Yup it is big jump for TWO years.]

"This is very powerful, we could not buy that level of advertising," said Pupatello. [The Star could use that $5M of advertising for local festivals instead of giving it to the for profit Red Bull organization. That would represent hundreds of pages of ads in the Star at City rates!]

The event features high-speed aircraft pulling sharp low-flying turns through a series of giant pylons floating on the Detroit River.

"We're really excited to be returning to Windsor," Red Bull Air Race CEO Bernd Loidl said in a news release. "It's a great venue in an exciting city, and last year's race there was a huge success." [The $10M is not so bad either]

The ministers and mayor said Red Bull's local event will also serve as "backdrop" for more important matters, including getting Windsor's name out to a global audience and bringing in investors and business types. Francis said potential investors from across North America were brought in last year. [I know, another world stage event for Windsor. How many of these potential investors and actual freeloaders at Edgar's Casino suite actually invested here?]

Pupatello, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Trade, likened Red Bull to the international F1 race car circuit which draws in business people "whose playground are these events ... these are the types of people who need to be made aware of the industrial opportunities in this region." [Over the last 2 years, how many playboys and girls did Sandra convince to invest here?]

The three political leaders said the two levels of government and the local development commission will be pulling together to make sure Windsor's "story" is shared with key investors and corporate decision-makers.

More room will also be made for the jetsetters. Phil Roberts, director of operations at Windsor Airport, said 77 private, corporate and chartered aircraft flew in for last year's three-day event but that at least 50 more had to be turned away. He said plans are underway to make room for up to 225 visiting aircraft this year. [Last year Edgar said "Francis said 60 aircraft landed at Windsor Airport over the weekend to unload international guests and another 50 were turned away because they were ineligible to land here."]...

Windsor is joining a whole new league, with last week's announcement by Red Bull organizers that New York City and Berlin have been added to its 2010 schedule. Pupatello said she was at the Paris Air Show last year when she saw Windsor's Red Bull event being profiled on a French television.

"It was unbelievable ... there I was on the other side of the world, watching my city," she said, predicting "a stellar weekend for us." [I hope Sandra stayed at more reasonably priced hotels this time. As Gord told us:

  • "For Windsor West MPP Sandra Pupatello, the revelation that she burned through more than $100,000 in travel expenses over 12 months...On Monday we learned that this zealous guardian of taxpayer dollars isn't so protective of the public purse that it would prevent her from flying business class and staying at the kind of five-star hotels most of her hard- pressed constituents will only visit in their most exotic dreams."

I wonder if she still stayed at the The Hotel California in Paris where she had spent $2,701 for a six-night previously. But she learned that from Dwight:

  • "While serving as energy minister in 2004, Duncan and four staff members racked up a staggering $50,000, more than $5,500 a day, on a nine-day business trip to Brussels, Rome and Copenhagen that included a $789 steak lunch for six people..."]

"This is so exciting. I can't think of a better thing for the summertime for our city," said Downtown Windsor BIA chairman Ron Balla. Unlike last year, with a nasty civic workers strike and Ouellette Avenue construction to contend with, Balla said the downtown will be pulling out all stops. [Actually I can Ron, festivals every weekend all over the City and County that would attract millions of people by the end of the summer rather than giving $5M to a private Company for one week-end a year for their bank account]

A large chunk of Ontario's multi-million-dollar commitment is for marketing, all of which will focus on Windsor. Asked what Windsor is committing to the show, Francis said the municipality will follow "the same model" as last year's, which saw Red Bull largely given the run of parts of the airport and riverfront last year for $125,000, as well as in-kind assistance of police, fire, traffic and parks staff. [The same marketing model, OMG. I should hope they would do better. How many of those 30,000 tickets were actually sold in Windsor? And we can suspect that Edgar really gve them a sweet-heart deal on that $125K so they could do things that the City could not do on the "leased" City property to get around the CUPE strike.

errrrr, Edgar, about that focus on Windsor. This time please, I wonder if our Tourist Bureau will let them know that one of our best attractions in Windsor is NOT Niagara Falls as they put on their website last year!

Oh, do we ever need another newspaper here! And perhaps as well a Minister of Finance who can do the math.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Edgar Is No Leader: PETU, DRIC and Daycare

Want to see what happens when politicians are not terrified by our Mayor and listen to obvious community concerns that Administration is afraid to put forward in a so-called objective report since it would not meet the Mayor's political needs. Amazing isn't it that certain politicians refuse to be rushed just because their Head has his own agenda. Read on

First, I just cannot believe it. I sit here in stunned amazement with my mouth open wide.

Our Mayor phones all the way from the UK not to tell us about all of the jobs that he has created in Windsor or the new investments to be made or the new flights coming to our airport but to tell us this:
  • "Put Windsor on Monopoly map, Eddie Francis urges from U.K.

    Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis introduces a new Hasbro Monopoly Canada game during a press conference at city hall on Monday, Jan. 11, 2010.

    Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis has issued an overseas plea for pro-Windsor Internet users to commit to helping the city nab a square of real estate on Hasbro’s upcoming Monopoly Canada Edition board game.

    “The enormous support the community has shown recently for critical campaigns like the United Way, as well as fun items like the Olympic Torch relay and the Monopoly contest is overwhelming,” Francis said in a statement issued Wednesday.

    “It puts our incredible civic pride on display for everybody to see,” he added."

A shill for Hasbro? Why, are they building a factory here?

The man has no sense of value. Or priority. Such utter contempt for the electorate.

Seriously, Edgar (aka Eddie) has been overseas in the UK for a few days. But you would never know it.

A reader sent me this perceptive note.

  • "[Re your BLOG: FIREFIGHTERS-ARBITRATION -SMOKE AND MIRRORS] Looks like the Star is reading this the same way you are. Notice today that they have two articles about his worship (full picture included) while he is away. As if they are trying keep his name and image front and center as the true Mayor of this town. All because the council meeting looked a little bit more like believable business. Damage control and public manipulation at its best."
Another reader asked:
  • "Knowing how proficient you are with the facts, is their a correlation with Eddie's globe trotting and fires at home? I see such as with Bill Marra sitting as mayor when the firefighters' arbitration award was announced, Bill catches the flak while Eddie is away."
Obviously, my reader has an interesting point. This was another huge labour relations loss and disaster and arbitration failure from which Edgar escaped the blame temporarily by running off to the UK for a week. Just as he did when he left town when Dwight Duncan came here for budget talks. And of course he is not here while the daycare controversy is swirling. And guess who has prime input in Council agenda-setting!

Want to know what our Mayor is like as leader and why he cannot be successful. Take a look at 2 major matters, PETU and DRIC:

December 16, 2009
  • "City council has given up on further negotiations with the budding union representing Windsor's municipal managers and professionals and has decided to leave the matter with the Ontario Labour Relations Board...

    Francis said the matter dominated Monday night's in-camera council discussion but that it was felt the employer had taken "significant steps towards closing the gap" and that it had been "our best offer."

And a month later,

  • "The new [PETU] proposal is something "that council has not agreed to and will not agree to," Mayor Eddie Francis told reporters. While there was "always a chance" that talks could resume, Francis said the last offer the city made to the managers -- overwhelmingly rejected in a vote last month -- was "the best proposal that we had."

Yet, there was an increased offer and a deal

January 14, 2010

  • "The vote happened Wednesday after representatives of the workers and top city officials reached a tentative agreement at a closed-door meeting earlier in the day."

    "Mayor Eddie Francis said the deal shouldn’t have much impact on the 2010 budget.

    The dollar cost of the wages is something we’d planned for and budgeted for,” he said."

All that fuss and muss with PETU for years and expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars and the City budgeted for it. Ridiculous. Exactly the same modus operandi as with the Friefighters: spend money to stall for a hidden purpose, hope to win but know you will lose in advance, budget for the loss and then lose. Sorry, lose big-time since a negotiated settlement would have been better and cheaper for taxpayers.

So to deal with Edgar (aka Eddie) should one ever take his "final offer" as "final." Is there always more?

Is he credible? My question is how can he have told the truth in December when he tells us in January that the City had budgeted for more

Moreover, is he all bark with no bite and knuckles under when there is pressure on him. He was supposed to leave the matter with the OLRB but if he did it would have been out of his control:

  • The City presented its offer of settlement to PETU just before "A three-day OLRB hearing on the matter set to begin Dec. 7 [so that it] is now postponed.

  • "The workers and the city had until February to reach an agreement. After that, the matter would have resumed before the Ontario Labour Relations Board, a provincial agency and independent tribunal that aims to resolve labour and employment disputes."

Now take the border and the border road. Here is a note that one of my readers sent me:

  • "If you missed the A-channel at 6. Take a peek at 11 and listen to Francis blame the Sierra Club for slowing down the DRIC project due to their court challenge to the EA. He says " I have worked with the Province all along co-operatively and others are now slowing down the project." (or words to that effect) Could not quite hear it all as my wife was yelling at me to turn off the TV because I kept hollering "What an [expletive deleted] Francis is !!"

Edgar probably said something along the lines of this remark quoted in the Star:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said after years of being at odds with the province over the parkway plan, the two sides are closer to reaching an amicable resolution.

    “We are in discussions with them to improve what’s on the table,” said Francis, who did not want to reveal specifics."

After threats of lawsuits and judicial review, how can anyone take Edgar seriously? The DRIC project was so bad for the health of Windsorites according to our Mayor. I still remember Sam's area of mass destruction presentation around that road that only Greenlink could fix. Yet Edgar has done nothing to help us out except spend money on lawyers and consultants who have been continuously shot down in flames.

When the RFP for the DRIC road was issued, Francis could only state to protect his failure on the project:

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

What an impressive observation. Now however, a few weeks later, we are close to an "amicable resolution" after Infrastructure Ontario has sent out RFPs for the project and has said

  • "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."

And the Province said:

  • "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. Such elements as roadway width and alignment and “the number of tunnels, their length and location” must “strictly adhere to the plan approved,”

But my reader ought not to get so upset because I believe that in this case, the border file, we were told the truth by Edgar.

It was a Freudian slip when Edgar talked about an amicable resolution. Frankly, this merely proves the point I have been making for years that the municipality has been working together with the Senior Levels to beat Moroun and to force him to sell out.

Each party agreed, in my opinion, to deal with their own area of constitutional responsibility in a nicely co-ordinated fashion: the Feds are concerned with the bridge, the Province with the road and the City with the local, social side dealing with the phony need to preserve Sandwich.

How else can one explain the spending by the Feds of an obscene amount for Brighton Beach!

If I am right, then it means that all levels of Government have not told us the truth for years and that Windsorites have been punished for it! We did not have to suffer the economic devastation. The jobs created by the Enhancement Project Bridge and a road to it would have helped minimize the destruction to our economy because of the auto industry woes.

John Corrent's lament is so true but it did not have to be this way. It did because of Edgar, the Voice of Council. With proper City leadership we may have suffered because of the economic slowdown but not as badly as we did:

  • "Windsor lawyer John Corrent, leader of grassroots group Citizens for Jobs Now, said he was disappointed by the court filing.

    “Legal proceedings of this nature can be difficult, cumbersome and time-consuming. Any lengthy delay — which could be years — may result in withdrawal of the funding set aside for Windsor to provide this North American superhighway link we all worked hard to get,” he said."

As I Blogged before:

  • "The unspoken reality when one looks through what is written is that the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project bridge should be built first! The DRIC bridge cannot and should not be built now because there is no justification for it.

    If that is the case, and this is a report by a US Institution, can Canada finally get the message! Moroun has won.

    It is time that the Canadian Government is forced to negotiate a "peace" with the Ambassador Bridge Company before this region is devastated even more than it is now.

    Citizens For Jobs Now needs to mobilize and get different groups in the City working together to put on pressure the politicians to arrive at a solution!

    PS. With the DRIC Bridge delayed for at least 2 years if not more, it borders on gross irresponsibility for the Canadian Government not to be talking with the Bridge Company to do a deal now."

As an aside, Edgar can breathe easy (sorry bad pun). Their lawsuit to stop DRIC takes him off the hook doesn't it. He would never have the nerve to do so since he would be the main witness and would be subject to cross-examination.

Now take a look at this story and see how the Councillors in Windsor have failed us while Edgar has been Mayor, afraid to ask the tough questions for fear of being beaten down by Edgar and the Star. Or even worse, ignored.

Doing polling won't help a politician either. In a small town like this, relying on "polls" is foolhardy since opinions can change virtually overnight eg the Hurst DRTP flipflop and Project Ice Track going to Tecumseh are two obvious examples. Polling is a clear sign of weakness and lack of confidence in one's own abilities.

  • "Hold off on closure of daycares, Essex County tells Windsor

    County councillors unanimously called for a halt Wednesday to any attempt to close Windsor and Essex County daycare centres until there’s been broad consultation with parents, staff and the county itself.

    Councillors cited too many unanswered questions to even consider the recommendations of a city social services department report to close in the coming months all seven daycare centres in the city and county, as well as two satellite operations in schools."

They were not afraid to listen to comments such as or to say:

  • Some of those daycares have been operating for more than three decades
  • Special-needs children are being abandoned
  • options for improving daycare enrolments not even considered in a rush to cut spending
  • We should have been consulted on this (city) report
  • the Star ran stories about daycare centre closures before county staff or municipal staff in Tecumseh and Amherstburg knew about it
  • city staff ignored Windsor’s own mission statement
  • city seems focused narrowly on cost cutting and ignoring the value of the service provided
  • surprised by the speed with which such a major change was being pushed through.

Quite a contrast wouldn't you say to how Government works in Windsor.

FAILED LEADERSHIP is the political legacy of Mayor Edgar Francis. The trouble is that we, the people, suffer for it.


I would bet that the phone lines were burning between England and Windsor after Edgar read how the County told him unanimously to get stuffed over daycare!

Who will get the blame for that failure by not lobbying the County politicians in advance better and at least getting Nelson onside.

Poor Ronna Warsh, the City’s community health and development commissioner. She will get the brunt of the fury! It is no defence for her to say that she thought that County politicians were like Windsor Councillors. They do what Edgar tells them.

An inside mole told me what happened today inside City Hall:

  • "The powers that be had an emergency meeting this a.m. re daycare closures. Because "it's what the Mayor wants"... they are trying to massage the numbers to justify closing them. It makes me sick."

Gee, haven't they closed down the communications system at City Hall yet so no one can leak information!

Canada's Dubai Ports Controversy (PART II)

The Detroit/Windsor border file cannot get any more ridiculous can it?

Oh no, then take a look at this new story coming out of Transport Canada. The Harper Government is hell-bent to destroy our relationship with the Americans.

I am sure that you remember what the Dubai Ports controversy was all about: whether the sale of port management businesses in six major US seaports to a foreign country would be a national security interest concern.

Is the US going to face this again if Canada takes over the Ambassador Bridge? (Forget about a DRIC bridge ever being built. It is delayed so long now). Throw in Windsor's attempt to take over the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel, the possible sale of the Blue Water Bridge and the fun and games in Fort Erie and all of a sudden the Americans lose control of key border crossings in Central North America.

Isn't that what "shared border management" really is all about with the Customs facilities for both sides generously located on the Canadian side? Isn't this why Prime Minister Harper is the key person involved for Canada on this file (mere Ministers for the Atlantic and Pacific gateways) and why he has raised the Ambassador Bridge issue at least three times with two US Presidents?

I raise the issue again because of an interesting comment made by Mark Butler, the spokesperson for Transport Canada:
  • "Windsor-Detroit border crossing project ready to proceed
    Environmental assessment approval sets stage for land acquisition, talks with U.S.

    ...the Canadian government is poised to proceed with the next steps in development of a new border crossing between Windsor and Detroit.

    These include continued land acquisition on the Canadian side and discussions with the government’s U.S. partners on procurement of the six-lane international bridge.

    “We are continuing our discussions with Michigan on governance issues and financing issues,” said Mark Butler, a Windsor-based spokesman for Transport Canada...

    Butler said the Canadian government would prefer that the new cable-stayed or suspension bridge be undertaken on the basis of a public-private partnership. But he said this approach is not yet set in stone.

    “One of the reasons is that the U.S. side of the bridge would be owned by the state of Michigan. But the state does not have P3 legislation in effect. Until that legislation is passed, Michigan would not be able to enter into a P3 agreement.”

    Once that legislation is enacted, a decision would have to be made on whether the public-private partnership would include the inspection plazas or just the bridge.

    Essentially, once a decision has been made and Michigan has the legislative authority to go ahead with a P3, we could then be able to go out to the marketplace and issue requests for qualifications,” Butler said...

    While the Canadian government is anxious to break ground “as soon as possible,” a construction start date has not been set.

    “I can’t crystal-ball this,” Butler said. “What we do know is that it is probably going to take 48 to 52 months to build the bridge, whether it is cable-stayed or suspension.”

In passing, years of debate to get P3 legislation in Michigan, if it ever comes, and then doing an RFP and 4-5 years for bridge construction means we will not see a new DRIC bridge until around 2020 at the earliest. An Enhancement Project bridge could be operating at around 30 months after all approvals are given. And Governor Granholm has blamed Canada for the delay.

What though is the most interesting aspect is that there may be a backing off from a P3 project. Right now, unless there are government guarantees or subsidies, no one would bid on a P3 bridge. Tolls alone could not pay for the new DRIC project.

The lack of money in the marketplace and the fierce competition from the Bridge Company whose tolls would be substantially less would mean bankruptcy for a new DRIC crossing.

No wonder Butler said:

  • "the Canadian government would prefer that the new cable-stayed or suspension bridge be undertaken on the basis of a public-private partnership. But he said this approach is not yet set in stone."

He knows that Michigan with its Senate and perhaps a new Governor might never pass P3 legisaltion.

A P3 with an investor "friendly" to Canada as the one who controlled the DRIC bridge and the Blue Water Bridge, just like Windsor would have been a "friendly" Tunnel operator, gives Canada exactly what it wants without Canada appearing to be the "owner" of the border crossings! It would not get anyone in Congres all excited.

If P3s are dead, then what is the alternative? There is little money in Michigan to pay for it and the NAFTA-gate President is not going to spend billions on a not neded bridge when he is concerned with health-care, the economy and two wars.

Therefore, Canda has to spend some dollars. It is after all a 50 year Canadian effort to take over the Ambasssador Bridge. To date, the only money the Feds have set aside is part of the money for a DRIC Road. There is no allocation specifically for a DRIC bridge or buying the Ambassador Bridge.

Do not foget what the President via the State Department has already said about a new DRIC crossing and the granting of a Presidential Permit:

If Canada ever publicly says that money is going to be set aside to construct a DRIC bridge, remember you read it first here: Dubai Ports #2!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Asian Carp Journalism

Did you see those videos of Asian carp flipflopping in the water and in boats when caught. Immediately, I thought of that when reading mini-Gord's Saturday column "Birth of a green giant."

I already wrote about his flipflopping "Samsung Deal: Bruce Nuclear #2" once a few days ago. But his latest column is pathetic. What a change from his first story
  • "$7-billion Samsung energy deal to benefit Windsor-Essex County

    The Windsor portion of the project includes a large-scale solar farm covering hundreds of acres of vacant property to start, with further phases likely. The solar panel mother glass plant would be located near the solar farm for marketing and sales purposes."

On Saturday, mini-Gord shamelessly writes without a hint of an apology to his readers:

  • "Windsor and Essex County, however, will have to compete with the rest of southern Ontario for their share of the $7-billion investment pot, Duncan warned Friday. "No decisions have been made" about where any of the manufacturing facilities will be located, Duncan stressed, and neither Windsor nor Essex County is guaranteed to win any part of the investment under the terms of the deal.

    "There's a lot of work to do yet," said Pat Persichilli, executive vice-president of the Windsor Essex Development Corporation. "A lot of work."

At least have the decency to admit that you were wrong or that your source misled you.

Then consider this. Dwight offered this advice to people. Frankly should people take him seriously even though he is the Minister of Finance and ought to know one would think:

  • "Duncan said he would advise those interested in working in the energy sector to contact St. Clair College or the University of Windsor for schooling options. Both will soon be involved with the OPA to teach the skills needed by Ontario's evolving energy industry.

    Power is going to be a good field to be in, Duncan predicts: the average Hydro worker is nearing retirement age, "and there is going to be a large amount of turnover in the next 10 to 15 years."

Frankly, I would be very hesitant to take any prediction advice from Dwight about the future and to base my career on it. Ask the Casino workers who have been laid off if I am right or not. In May, 2006 I Blogged:

  • "I trust you read the Report prepared for the City on the consequences of the No Smoking law on our Community. It seemed to be a well-researched and well-written Report to me. Notwithstanding that the Report came out just a few weeks before the ban is put into place, it made a very convincing case that this City's businesses need help and badly...

    However, Ontario's Minister of Finance, the Member for Windsor-St. Clair, the one and only Dwight Duncan dismisses the Report out of hand! "I don't share their pessimism..."

    However, is Dwight betting his career on his opinion? "It will be an initially short-term decline, but things will pick up. In six months, we'll see who's right and who's wrong...we will monitor this very carefully."

You tell me if Dwight won that bet or not.

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

Obama ran on a "Change" platform and won.

Someone sent me this video which may suggest a similar approach in the next election.

As for me, it is much simpler than that. I agree with a Pollster in Illinois that this may be the big issue in the next election, no matter at which level:
  • "Pollster Gregg Durham said the data tells him a ‘throw the bums out’ mentality is emerging for 2010.

    “This is happening in the rest of the country,” Durham said. “It’s a little stronger in Illinois…this dissatisfaction with politicians with one governor in prison and the last one impeached and in legal trouble. The meter is being pegged in this state.”

    “What is very telling is the independents are very strongly against the incumbent. There is a tendency to look for something else. There is a dissatisfaction with an incumbent."

Firefighters Arbitration: Smoke And Little Fire

No wonder Councillor Lewenza looked so happy at Council. He could not have said much with Edgar in the Chair. He would have been cut off so that the public would have been none the wiser.

Windsor was offered a clear choice in how to undertake labour negotiations in these troubled times:
  • 1) A Made in Windsor solution negotiated in a manner to try and reach an acceptable resolution in the best interest of taxpayers, the Unions and the City, or
  • 2) A hardline, tough approach that results in a 3-year arbitration and a 101-day strike in which few of the City’s objectives are reached but at a cost that is higher than #1 to the disadvantage of everyone.

Oh, and I should probably add in this: Not one word of this was written in the Star to inform the public as is the Star approach to labour matters where Edgar's career is at stake.

Mind you, I may be unfair to the Star this time. It may be that the reason for the Star being so silent is that its reporter, Doug Schmidt, seemed to have little idea as to what was going on at Council from his BLOG comment:
  • "Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr., without Eddie there to reign him in on his tangential wanderings, was allowed to verbally meander off on something he kept calling Made-In-Windsor contract negotiations unlike, I guess, the Made-In-Elsewhere stuff Helga and her city hall gang are committed to)."

It was hardliners vs. softliners night at Council with each trying to set out their approach. Was that so hard to understand? Hardly tangential either but fundamental to the next round of bargaining. Junior set up Administration with every question he asked and then summed it up at the end beautifully, mocking them.

So now we also know what a Council meeting looks like if run by Vanilla Man, Councillor Bill Marra, as Mayor rather than the combative Mayor Edgar (aka Eddie) Francis.

Interesting, what a difference in tone: no tension, no cutting off of Councillors who were speaking on the microphone, freedom to ask questions and to get them answered even if embarrassing to Administration. What a difference a trip to London, England makes. Edgar should never have allowed a Council meeting when he was not around.

Edgar was made to look foolish and incompetent as a our Voice of Council in labour matters. At least to people watching on Cogeco

Actually, it did not matter. Edgar could travel more at taxpayer expense and need not worry much. As I said above, the Star carried on its tradition of not telling the public anything that Councillor Lewenza disclosed at the session that again demonstrated that the Mayor and hardliners have no idea how to undertake labour negotiations.

Why make the Mayor look bad in the only matter he has got going to get him re-elected? Why tell the truth to the public when the Star can pretend it never happened and the Unions do nothing to tell the public otherwise!

The Firefighters Arbitration---3 years in the making at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars I am sure in staff time, outside legal fees and arbitrators’ costs—achieved little that the City wanted. It took so long that this extravaganza became an “interim” decision with more to come. The result as the City knew in advance, since it budgeted for it over the 3 years, followed the pattern bargaining of matching police increases.

How Councillor Marra could say what he did in the Star was shocking to me and a disappointment. He looked foolish when he said:

  • "Windsor ratepayers took a “big hit” in an arbitrator’s interim award that granted more than $7.3 million in retroactive pay to city firefighters, but some of the toughest stuff remains to be negotiated, says Coun. Bill Marra.

    “When you look at the environment we’re in today, it’s a situation that isn’t manageable for a municipality like Windsor,” Marra said of the more than three per cent in annual pay hikes awarded the city’s firefighters for the period Jan. 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2009 — a non-compounded increase totalling 12.64 per cent."

Instead of playing to the uninformed masses, he had the perfect chance to slam the Francis negotiating technique, or rather the lack of one. He had the perfect opportunity to reveal to the public his approach to problem solving and to provide an alternative solution. He blew it!

Why have an arbitration then? Nothing was achieved if the result was predictable in advance by those who wasted 3 years of effort.

Marra said again foolishly:

  • "We’re not surprised but certainly disappointed,” said Marra."

DUH...Marra knew there was going to be a hit--he was not surprised-- so why make ridiculous comments that destroy his credibility. His disappointment ought to be that he did not pay attention to his Wardmate on labour matters.

The hardliner strategy failed miserably. Again. And Bill became part of the problem!

In Toronto, David Miller was chased out of town by the media. In Windsor, the Star covers up for Edgar as he spends more time overseas at a time when Councillor Gignac whines that we are so desperate to save money.

Where was the big mouth, political coward at Council? The big anti-Union man, Councillor Brister. Hiding behind Councillor Gignac? Not a peep out of him, no support given to his colleague when the camera lights were on since he knew if he dared say anything, Councillor Lewenza would destroy him politically. Edgar was not there to protect him either. Nope, he can just run to the Star Columnists where they can protect him from himself.

What a whiny Councillor Ms Gignac is. Write a letter to mommy and daddy for protection against the big, bully arbitrators: AMO and the Province. Demand that they tell arbitrators to protect us. Sure, pass off responsibility to others instead of learning how to negotiate. Act tough, suffer the consequences and then bleat like a lost sheep. She will be as successful in her Resolution and letters as she was in getting the Province and Premier to listen to Windsor on the border road.

Why did she open her mouth to put her foot in it? Councillor Lewenza frankly treated her with contempt by laughing at her Motion. I know, I know, it is sometimes hard to have good manners but Junior better try no matter how silly she sounds.

Poor Councillor Gignac. Doesn’t she understand that AMO and the Province have absolutely no jurisdiction over an arbitrator. Yes, write to the Management Lobbyist for Municipalities and tell them to force arbitrators to toe the Management line. Unbelievable.

It is clear that she has no concept whatsoever of labour negotiations. She as a hardliner thinks that she can impose her will on the City unions and on arbitrators who have to decide issues on the facts. Doesn't she grasp the concept: arbitrators only get involved when the City has failed in its dealings with its employees. Deal honestly unlike the actions with CUPE and there is no need for arbitration.

I guess she still does not understand what happened during the CUPE strike because she cannot yet see that Edgar had a political agenda at play.

Here is the big difference between the hardliners represented by Councillor Gignac last night and the softliners represented by Councillor Lewnza. The hardliners take the “tough” approach, our way or strike or arbitrations where a third party can make a decision that can cost taxpayers. The softliners want a Made in Windsor solution negotaiated by the parties that takes into account other settlements but adapts it to Windsor’s needs to meet the objectives of taxpayers, the City and the unions.

What a remarkable difference last night showed. Edgar would have never allowed his weakness and dirty linen of failure to show. We learned in the Arbitration who allowed the farm to be sold.

No one on the hardliner side could explain why the Library, WUC, Enwin and Transit Windsor could all settle without labour unrest within a similar framework but a 3 year arbitration was needed for Fire and a 101 day strike was needed for CUPE.

Can you spell P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S. Failed politics on Edgar’s part at that. He must accept the blame.

Doesn't anyone find it fascinating that in two of the matters that were resolved amicably within the City framework--WUC and Transit Windsor--Councillor Lewenza played an important role in the settlement, not the Mayor. It speaks volumes.

Here is the stupidity of Edgar’s firefighter approach. The City wasted 3 years and hundrds of thousands of dollars in a war yet knew virtually to the dollar what an arbitrator would allow. In a $7.3M award, the City was out a mere $90K, or about 1.2% as the Treasurer calculated. All that money wasted to save nothing. What was the point?

It gets worses. 14 sessions were held with the firefgithers and not one single issue was resolved between the parties over 3 years, not one. Tell me that this was not a political move to try to take away PRBs from the Firefighters, then CUPE and then the Police. It failed.

All that happened is to force the stronger Unions to dig in and not trust the City for anything.

Why choose a Made in Windsor solution as advocated by Councillor Lewenza who was involved in settlements of WUC and Transit Windsor without a strike. Rather Council adopted the same approach that resulted in failure. Don't they ever learn?

Just follow Edgar blindly, the Mayor who achieved nothing that he set out for and cost the City and taxpayers money in CUPE and the firefighters arbitration. It just boggles my mind.

Oh I am sorry, as long as the Star continues to hide the truth, most residents will think the hardliners won. I get it now.

Councillor Gignac made a big deal of reading the City’s representative's comments on the arbitration board re taking into account the economic difficulties faced by Windsor. The Administration rep at Council last night said that the arbitrators did take that into account already.

Thanks to the Councillor, she absolutely demonstrated that the Mayor either deliberately did not tell us the facts about the arbitration process or was so negligent in not knowing about how it operated in fact. This BS about arbitrators giving away the farm or not taking into account economics was not true at all.


Frankly, for that alone, any responsible newspaper would run him out of town; he ought never to be allowed to place his name on a ballot again. However, the Star so far has been silent.

One small last point. The whole public discussion at Council was a fraud. You see, Councillor Marra told us that they had discussed their position previously in camera. It did not matter what was said. The hardliners had already won.

In fact the CAO scolded Council a few times for speaking out in public. Those conversations according to her should be held in private. Heavens, who wants the public to know what is going on although it was clear from the Admin. Report that the Firefighters were to be screwed in round 2 of the Arbitration.

That is how Council works in Windsor. That is how Edgar can go away and not be too worried. Too bad that they won't let us in on the secrets. Heck, we only elect them and pay for everything.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BREAKINGBLOG news: Depression Is Good For Windsor/Detroit

We made it finally. The world's stage is almost ours. Here is how we compare with 272 cities in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK.


Let's keep fooling around with the border file in this region. Why there is no need to diversify even with a so-called automobile industry meltdown.

Come on, the sky is not falling. The Detroit auto show drew lots of people. See it really was a cyclical downturn not a structural one like the doom and gloomsters were alleging.

Look at the competitive advantage this region has in house affordability:

In 2008, consider this:

  • "In a recent international study of affordable housing, Windsor placed 12th in North America, a ranking that is being touted by the Windsor Essex Development Commission as it tries to attract new industry and investment to the region. With a median house price of $145,900, Windsor is tied for fifth across Canada and for 12th in North America, according to Demographia International, which conducted the survey in the third quarter of 2007."

Man did we ever do well this year in the Canadian rankings but slipped a bit in the international rankings. Darn Detroit, trying to steal our thunder.

As I wrote in 2008:

  • "Wow, here I was thinking that all of these businesses closing down in Windsor was bad for us. Am I ever dumb. In fact people being out of a job and having their homes foreclosed as house prices drop here is probably the best thing that ever happened for us...

    This is fantastic news for us. I did not understand the hidden agenda behind the Mayor's plan to ensure that the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project and the DRIC road not be built. If those projects were to get the go-ahead immediately, then 15,000 high-paying infrastructure jobs and spin off jobs and opportunities would be created...

    Can you imagine the economic mess that would make for us here. All of these employed people with money to spend would never bring us the kind of prosperity we think we should have.

    My goodness we need to thank the Gazelle Feeders for not going out and finding jobs for people here"

Congrats to the Mayor, Council and Undevelopment Commission. Keep those mortgage foreclosures coming.

Is Star Reporter Doug Schmidt Looking For A New Job

I know times are tough for Canwest and other papers. I suspect that jobs for journalists are not in big supply. Accordingly, a reporter needs to be careful in what he/she writes.

So how does one explain City Hall Reporter Doug Schmidt's BLOG "Schmidt City?

And how does one explain how it was pushed by the online Star?

I mean really... he has to work at City Hall and here he smears a number of the major players in language that even I would not dare use and mocks others. Seriously, he seemed so protective of the establishment in the published Star. Why remember how he has gone after Junior in the past!

  • Another such message came from the fact only Jo-Anne and Ward 1 Coun. Dave Brister joined Mayor Eddie Francis for the clock’s dedication, also attended by Bangladesh’s top guy in Canada, High Commissioner Yakub Ali. Not one of the four councillors representing that downtown strip of Ouellette Avenue bothered to show (Alan? Caroline? Fulvio? Ron?). Dave and Jo-Anne offered no comment — but took my bait and impishly rolled their eyes — when I asked why."

  • I’d called her [Ward 2 Coun. Caroline Postma] to ask why she left Monday night’s council meeting early and thus missed the high-octane debate and super-tight vote to give Assumption Church quintuple the city’s normal maximum contribution for a heritage restoration job.

    The final vote was 5-4 in favour of the church’s $250,000 request. Caroline, who represents the ward where the crumbling church stands, told me she was “leaning towards not giving,” which would have forced tie-breaker from Eddie, he of recent notorious stinginess (at the clock dedication he told me it was too hypothetical a question to say how he would have broken a tie)."

  • Control freak megalomaniac strikes again

    Well conspiracy theorists, listen up, ‘cos that city hall megalomaniac has done it again.

    Mayor Eddie Francis, dubbed a “control freak” even by admirers, is now master and commander over all our garbage and blue boxes, after being appointed the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority’s chairman on Wednesday.

    That leaves maybe a few sand traps at Roseland Golf Course as about the only public things left around here that aren’t directly controlled by hizzoner Eddie.

  • Is there any wonder he’s so keen on getting Windsor included in the next Canadian cities edition of the board game Monopoly? Once that foothold is established, pretty soon Eddie’d be erecting his homes and hotels from Mediterranean to Boardwalk — he’d be the true Chairman of the national Board.

    “I knew this was going to happen,” he told me after I pointed out his empire-grasping antics and the optics following his EWSWA ascendancy.

Doug also told us that Edgar

  • Let’s see, he’s already chairman of the Windsor Police Services board, chairman of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Corporation, chairman of Windsor Airport — a.k.a. Your Quick Gateway (Windsor) Inc. — and chairman of Enwin Energy, which falls under the corporate roof of Windsor Canada Utilities Ltd., which, ummm, yes, Eddie also chairs.

    He’s a commissioner at the Windsor Utilities Commission — “I think I’m vice-chair,” he told me — and a director with the Windsor-Essex Development Corporation, as well as a mere member of countless other entities, including committees of council (where he sets the agenda) and loftier stuff like the Great Lakes Mayors group and Canada’s Big Cities Mayors caucus.

What he should also have told us is how many of these postions are paid, how much Edgar gets and how he is NOT required to share all of his money with his Council colleagues. It might explain his huge salary.

Aha, that might have been a clue. He did NOT do the obvious. THAT would be going waaaaay too far!

He seemed tough against some but was he and seemed sympathetis towards others but was he? Could it be all a front? Could this be part of a plan/counter-plan that only a master political mind could think up? Was this an effort by the Eminence Greasie that even Doug did not know about?

Consider his latest BLOG in which he both attacks and praises the Mayor "City critics be damned!" Did someone get to him and explain the facts of journalistic life:

  • "The agenda was stuffed with juicy stuff like the audit of the messy 400 Building fiasco — bad, dumb stuff, for sure, the city’s hired guns tell us repeatedly, but nothing seriously “criminal” — as well as another six-figure taxpayer dollar request for another study on the airport “cargo village” dream. Of course, that guaranteed the public gallery would be teeming with citizen watchdogs bracing for a night of political whack-a-mole, the chief “mole” being the guy with the gavel (or, as is the case here, the guy with the finger on the microphone mute button).

    But no sullen cowering from the dais. A combative Eddie demanded evidence to back up allegations, he challenged loosely flung factoids, stared down bluffs and cut down the blusterers. More than once he lectured on “correcting the misperceptions” that council “at times may look to ignore the facts.”

    Citizen auditors demanded answers to “unanswered questions” on the 400 Building affair and that the criminals behind it be outed and dealt with. Eddie asked the real auditors whether there was “one sliver or ounce” of proof of “malfeasance.” The top gun Toronto lawyer the city hired to conduct the $658,000 probe replied he found “nothing evil or corrupt.” Those politicians and bureaucrats involved simply ignored laws — not criminally, remember — governing how multimillion-dollar contracts are awarded."

Why he is almost playing Gord's game of hitting at Edgar while seemingly standing up for him so no one can criticize him. Or was this his way of getting back into favour? It is so baffling.

However, consider this statement in his BLOG:

  • "Share all your election and civic news and views, tips, event info, insider secrets and gossip worthy of a blog with Windsor Star city hall reporter Doug Schmidt."

Really, no one reads Star BLOGs except...well no need to go into that after seeing what happened to certain reporters who were too honest in their BLOGs. You don't fight City Hall.

What about this scenario---someone reads this statment and foolishly takes it seriously and gives Schmidt some juicy insider gossip---such as the BLOGMeister will announce his candidacy for Mayor on Februrary 14, Valentine's Day with the slogan:

  • "I want to capture the hearts of Windsorites!"

Of course, Schmidt publishes it as he is entitled to do. Lo and behold Edgar gets some great insider info that he can plan against that he might otherwise may never have picked up.

Poor Doug---he probably has no idea that he is being used in this fashion. Who cares what he writes as long as he obtains sensitive political information. He can suffer the consequences at the appropriate time when he is no longer of use.

Think I am making this up. I was accused early on when I started writing this BLOG of pretending to be deliberately anti-Edgar so that Edgar opponents would contact me and then I could tell Edgar who was acting against him in the City! My response was simple: my mind does not operate in that diabolical a fashion.

That's politics, dear reader, Windsor-style.

So You Want a Public Bridge (Part 2,498)

You may finally agree to dump the concept after this.

Poor Matty Moroun. He has been given a bum rap. All those nasty thing said about him being secretive and ignoring governments. Attacks on him for how he is handling the "heritage homes" issue in the West End of Windsor. I am sure that you will agree with me after you read this BLOG that he has been treated unfairly in comparison with what others say and do.

Pshaw, he is an amateur at this game. Where are the Lessenberrys and Masses of the world and the Sandwich westender types on our side of the border burying Public Authorities, not praising them.

Imagine, Matty is playing by the rules on the homes issue in Windsor and going through the legal system. Have you ever heard him say something like this:
  • "When Farhi speaks, [London] city hall listens, as was the case 10 weeks ago, when he told politicians to step up with plans for parking or he'd raze or let rot some heritage properties.

    "Literally, I can knock down 20 buildings tomorrow," he said then."

Remember all of the abuse he took over the Bridge inspection report. SECRECY. I am still waiting for the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel one and no one seems upset, even Congressman Dingell who was so concerned about the safety of border crossing users.

Take a look at this story about Public Bridge Authority in Niagara Falls if you want to know what secrecy means:

  • "Bridge commission salaries at issue
    Judge weighs suit asking for details

    On July 21, 2008, Thomas E. Garlock abruptly and mysteriously left his job as executive director of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.

    Since then, commission officials have refused to reveal why Garlock left, what kind of severance package he received or what his salary was when he was working.

    Friday, attorneys for the commission asked U. S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to protect their right to keep that information secret.

    The issue touched off heated legal argument — including tough questions raised by the judge.

    If the salaries for federal judges— $174,000 — and other government officials are public record, Arcara said, why are the salaries of bridge commission employees kept secret?

    “What’s the big secret?” Arcara asked. “Who can get the information? . . . I’ve never heard of a government agency that isn’t accountable to anybody.”

    But the bridge commission is not a government agency, does not receive any funding from taxes and is not subject to Freedom of Information laws, argued two attorneys for the commission, Kevin M. Kearney and Adam W. Perry.

    “[The commission] is a federal international transportation undertaking,” Kearney told the judge. “Not a public authority.”

    The opposite viewpoint was argued by attorneys Charles E. Graney and Nelson Perel, who say the commission is a public agency supported by bridge tolls paid by taxpayers.

    “This is a public commission. They should operate in transparency,” Graney said.

    Arcara made no decision on the dispute Friday and is expected to issue a written decision sometime within the next month.

    The bridge commission — a body made up of four Canadians and four Americans — operates three of the region’s international bridges, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge and the Whirlpool Bridge.

    Congress created the commission with a resolution filed in 1938.

    Two Niagara County legislators, Danny W. Sklarski and John D. Ceretto, filed a state lawsuit last year, trying to force the bridge commission to make the information public. They are supported by other county legislators and by State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, and B. Thomas Golisano, the billionaire owner of the Buffalo Sabres.

    Since the public pays bridge tolls, Graney said, there is a legitimate public interest in finding out what kind of salaries bridge commission employees are making and also whether Garlock received “lucrative” severance pay and benefits.

    Garlock, 57, of Lockport, was not in court Friday and could not be reached to comment. He has never publicly disclosed his reasons for leaving the commission.

    The lawsuit was recently moved from the state courts to federal court. Arcara must first decide whether his court is the proper jurisdiction for the lawsuit before then deciding whether the bridge commission is subject to Freedom of Information laws.

    In 2003, Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the State Committee on Open Government, issued an opinion that the bridge commission is subject to state Freedom of Information laws, but the commission’s attorneys say Freeman’s opinion is “incorrect.”

    “I don’t understand the secrecy of all this. I’m befuddled by that,” Arcara said. “It would be a lot easier to turn over the information than to go through what we’re going through today.”

    Because half of the commission’s members are Canadians, the commission maintains that it must observe Canadian laws, which bar the public from finding out the salaries of many public officials.

    Four of the commissioners are appointed by the governor of New York, and the other four are appointed by the premier of Ontario.

    Releasing the requested information about Garlock would be “violating principles of Canadian law,” said Norma Higgs, chairwoman of the commission, in a statement issued late Friday afternoon.

    Although the commission says it is not subject to Freedom of Information laws, it does put out an annual report that includes some information.

    According to its annual report issued at the end of 2008, the commission had $33.6 million in income for the year and $28.6 million in expenses. That included more than $6 million in administrative expenses."

What is in the air in that region. Remember that the Peace Bridge has argued that they are an "international compact entity" so that many laws do not apply to them. [BLOG: "Masse's Border Authority"] ].

A Court in the US seems to agree with them respecting the argument re the Buffalo Infrastructure Improvement Project:

  • "The New York State legislature authorized and empowered the Public Bridge Authority to enter into a compact with Canada with respect to the bridge crossing between New York and Canada. Laws of New York, Chapter 824 § 2 (1933). As required by the United States Constitution, Congress granted its consent to permit the State of New York to enter into the compact with Canada for the establishment of the Public Bridge Authority. House Joint Resolution 315, 73rd Congress, May 3, 1934.

    Thus, the Public Bridge Authority is “the product of a compact between New York and Canada, approved by Congress...”

    What Effect Does an Interstate/International Compact have upon a State Agency?

    An “interstate compact, by its very nature, shifts a part of a state’s authority to another state or states, or to the agency the several states jointly created to run the compact.” Hess v. Port Auth. Trans-Hudson Corp., 513 U.S. 30, 42 (1994). The resulting entities “are to be regarded not as extensions of each compacting state’s authority, but rather as independently functioning parts of a regional polity . . ..”

    “In all circumstances, the compact governs the internal operations of the compact entity...” The Court’s “role in interpreting the Compact is, therefore, to effectuate the clear intent of both sovereign states, not to rewrite their agreement or order relief inconsistent with its express terms.”

    Neither state may unilaterally regulate the internal operations of a compact entity. eg New York cannot enforce its human rights laws and New Jersey cannot enforce its “Barrierfree Statute” requiring access for individuals with disabilities upon the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Nor could New York impose its anti-discrimination statute regarding employment for former inmates upon the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, an interstate compact between New York and New Jersey. Similarly, New York cannot impose its Labor Law upon the Port of New York Authority...

    However, compact entities remain subject to regulation by the compacting states when their actions affect the health or welfare of the citizens of the state...

    internal operations of the Authority – unlike its external conduct which is subject to each of the Compact State’s health and safety laws – are independent from the unilateral control of either State without the other’s concurrence...

    Is the BIIP subject to SEQRA or the City of Buffalo’s Site Plan Review Process?

    As set forth in the enabling legislation, the Public Bridge Authority has the power to “maintain, reconstruct, repair and replace and operate any properties acquired by it, and pay for the same out of any funds collected by it in the operation of properties acquired by it...”

    As the undisputed facts demonstrate that the BIIP involved internal infrastructure improvements and relocation of existing infrastructure, neither New York nor the City of Buffalo can impose their environmental regulations upon the Public Bridge Authority. To hold otherwise would usurp the authority granted to the compact.

    Is the Public Bridge Authority subject to New York’s FOIL and Open Meetings Law?

    The enabling legislation for the Public Bridge Authority authorizes the board to “adopt such by-laws, rules and regulations for the calling and conduct of its meetings and the management of its affairs as it may deem necessary or proper, not inconsistent with the provisions of this act.”

    This legislation expresses no intent that the Public Bridge Authority would be subject to New York’s subsequently enacted FOIL or Open Meetings Law. Moreover, it is obvious that New York’s FOIL and Open Meetings Law would affect the internal operations of the Public Bridge Authority. As a result, New York’s FOIL and Open Meetings Law are not applicable to the Public Bridge Authority."

Want to know about self-confidence. As the Buffalo News reported:

  • "Three residents who live on the West Side near the Peace Bridge filed a lawsuit in May 2004 seeking to stop the changes. The residents called the changes improper because they were not considered as part of the bridge expansion project. They said that violates a 2000 order by State Supreme Court Justice Eugene M. Fahey that work on the plaza could not be studied separately from a bridge expansion.

  • The authority proceeded with the project even with the pending litigation."

Jack, Brian, do you see what I mean. Matty is a pussycat compared with that developer and those Public Authorities. They are really tough aren't they.

It's time you reconsidered your position on supporting a public entity running our border crossing don't you think. Imagine if Matty learned from them!