Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pita Politics

The stuff that urban legends are made of.

Remember the BLOG I wrote a few days ago: "The Edgar You Never Knew." Some stuff in there really bothered me. Perhaps Edgar (aka Eddie) could clear up my confusion.

Of course, you recall this:
  • "In June of 1999, there was an opening on city council and there was a bi-election that was open. This is a true story. Because of the profile that was gained through the "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" award and our work in the community, I was on my way to do a product pitch, and I got a call from a reporter at The Windsor Star.

    She asked me if there was any truth to the rumor. And I said, "Truth to what rumor?" She said, "You are running for Windsor City Council." I said, "Excuse me, who are you again?" She said, "My name is Granell--my name is Margaret Granell from The Windsor Star." I said, "I don't know what you are talking about. Thanks, good talking to you." That was it.

    Next day in The Windsor Star there was my picture with 15 others "Rumored to Run." Well, I thought about politics, but I never thought about running for politics."

I had never heard of "Margaret Granell." Neither could I find a reference to such a Star reporter and a reporter that I contacted at the Star had never heard of her either.

"Don't know what you are talking about... Never thought about running for politics." I went to my archives and lo and behold here is what I found:

  • "Line forms to replace Limoges:
    City council will likely hold a June byelection to fill vacant Ward 5 seat
    Veronique Mandal Star Staff Reporter. The Windsor Star. Windsor, Ont.: Apr 19, 1999

    A young Arab businessman, a retiree and a failed federal candidate all have their eye on the Ward 5 city council seat soon to be vacated by Rick Limoges.

    As soon as Limoges is sworn in as Windsor's newest MP, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday, city council is expected to call a byelection...

    Former chairwoman of the Catholic school board, Joanne Gignac can't wait to pick up a nomination form.

    "I'm just waiting for the election call," said Gignac. "And I hope they go with a byelection because it is the best approach and the best process to serve the people."

    Gignac, 49, says she understands it's a big jump to go from school trustee to municipal politician. But she wants to serve a ward she's lived in all her life, and where her family has lived for generations.

    "I know it's easy to be overcome by the mega projects, but roads and sewers are what people are interested in and I don't find that a boring proposition," Gignac said.

    The possibility of bringing fresh, young blood to city council is motivating 25-year-old entrepreneur Eddie Francis to run in the ward. The young businessman, of Arab descent, has been active in the Wyandotte Street BIA and often speaks on behalf of the growing Arab community in the city.

    Francis and his brothers continue to build and expand their father's business Royal Pita on Wyandotte Street East. They were voted Young Entrepreneurs of 1999 by the Windsor Chamber of Commerce.

    "I'm giving it very serious consideration," said Francis. "There are people I need to consult with to see if I can mount a team to help me win, and what my chances are."

    If he does run, Francis has the support of his family, says mother Arlette. "We tell him to do what he needs to do and we will support him financially. We're behind him," she said...

    Cooke says he will support Gale Simko-Hatfield if she's a candidate.

    Simko-Hatfield, 47, is taking a week of vacation with husband Percy Hatfield, to make a final decision.

    "This is a wonderful opportunity and I feel it's something I shouldn't reject," said Simko-Hatfield. "I have a track record of representing this ward on the school board and bring experience to the table."

    The public school board trustee ran three times before being elected and says her desire to do whatever she could for her community spurred her to keep fighting."

Quite an interesting group of people who ran.

But here is my problem. Perhaps there was another story by a Ms. Granell or perhaps she was just researching for the Star reporter. I do not know.

I got it. I will attribute it to Edgar's amnesia disease. Darn unscrubbed Tunnel exhaust fumes. However, if he can be wrong on this, can he be wrong on other matters?

It was NOT Margaret Granell who reported the story but rather Veronique Mandal, mini-Gord's "The Wife" and the person heading up the new Journalism program for St. Clair College.

As for "I don't know what you are talking about. Thanks, good talking to you.... I never thought about running for politics," here is what he said in the Star story:

  • "The possibility of bringing fresh, young blood to city council is motivating 25-year-old entrepreneur Eddie Francis to run in the ward..."I'm giving it very serious consideration," said Francis. "There are people I need to consult with to see if I can mount a team to help me win, and what my chances are."

Why even his Mother knew he was considering running!

And whom did he have to consult about a "team" when he said in the speech

  • "My campaign team was a campaign team of three: myself and two other brothers."

Another part of the speech was the very interesting and dramatic business entrepreneurial story involving the Ford Escort:

  • "And what we were able to do from a Windsor location, from a Windsor plant, was produce 7,000 packs an hour, ship them down to Atlanta in less than 24 hours and out-compete the bakeries that were in the Atlanta area...

    We were delivering in our Ford Escort backing up into loading docks with these big competitors, right? You got the Westins and the Dempster's in Canada. Here you have different Wonder Bread companies that distribute. So these guys were backing up and piling up stacks and stacks and stacks of trays of bread, and we are just walking in with four packs of bread, and we knew we were going to out-compete them."

The trip to and from Atlanta takes about 24.5 hours driving time not including loading and unloading time. The trip is just over 725 miles.

Now I don't know about you but I would get very, very tired and would be spending a lot of money on gas driving to and from Atlanta every day to sell 4 packs of pita bread. The price would have to be very high to cover the costs and to make a profit!

So obviously he meant that they were selling 7,000 packs at least to Costco delivered in his Ford Escort. It was not clear if that was 7,000 per day 0r 56,000 packs produced per day in an 8 hour day or over a quarter of a million packs in a 5-day week.

It could not be 250K packs since Edgar said they used 22 tons of flour per week. I did some calculations using Internet recipes and I figured out that only a fraction of that number could be baked using that quantity of flour.

Let's see, that Escort would have to be quite a vehicle. 7,000 packs alone could weigh several tons and take up several hundred cubic feet of space too.

And that Escort would have had to be constantly on the go too:

  • "Royal Pita, the small family company he and his brother expanded into an export business that now operates in 12 states as well as Toronto and London too."

Ford should have run a commercial about that Escort. It could have sold a fleet of them to other businesses.

I am sure that if I was a Star reporter and wanted clarification I would get an answer right away, like with the Council attendance story or with this story:

  • "Even before the [council advisory panel’s criticism of the level of city hall support (or lack thereof) shown small business] story ran in Wednesday’s paper, a sneak preview Tuesday night on The Windsor Star’s website elicited an email response from WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation executive VP Patrick Persichilli. He said “many programs” are being offered by the WEEDC and its Small Business Centre — “great things to promote small business growth and entrepreneurial incubation.”

    The next morning, Mayor Eddie Francis called to echo that."

But we poor lonely Bloggers, we never get a reply.

Uncongratulations To The Windsor Star

Forget the Ontario and National Newspaper Awards that the Star is trumpeting....boring!

An anonymous disgruntled reporters group I have heard is setting up a new award: the "Unnewsiees."

You have heard I am sure of the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation who presents the worst award, "the Razzie" for Worst “Achievements” in Film before Oscar night.

The night before the National Newspaper Awards program dinner, the reporters group will be holding an event for the Unnewsiee award, ie the Worst Achievement in News Coverage.

Nominations are invited but are closing soon. I have heard that so far, the Windsor Star has been nominated for the Unnewsiee by so many people for its uncoverage of the CUPE strike, and in particular for ignoring the Lewenza/Marra Ward meeting that revealed how the hardliners sold out the City by increasing taxes forever in the settlement achieved, that the odds of the Star winning is almost 100%.

Why The Media Fail Us

I just received this joke from a reader:

"A Harley biker is visiting the zoo in Calgary , Alberta when he sees little girl leaning into the bars of the lion's cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the cuff of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter her, under the eyes of her screaming parents.

The biker without hesitation runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch.

Whimpering from the pain the lion jumps back letting go of the girl, and the biker brings her to her terrified parents, who thank him endlessly. A CBC reporter has watched the whole event.

The reporter addressing the biker says, 'Sir, this was the most gallant and brave thing I've seen a man do in my whole life.'

The Harley rider replies, 'Why, it was nothing, really, the lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger and acted as I felt right.'

The reporter says, 'Well, I'll make sure this won't go unnoticed. I'm a journalist, you know, and tomorrow's paper will have this story on the front page... So, what do you do for a living and what political affiliation do you have?'

The biker replies, 'I'm a soldier in the Canadian military and a Conservative.' The journalist leaves.

The following morning the biker buys the paper to see if it indeed brings news of his actions, and reads, on the front page:

My reader may seem to be a bit harsh but is he? Take a look at this excerpt from an article that was sent to me and you decide:

  • "You see, journalism is the solution. Real journalism.

    Walter Cronkite would end his news show by saying "And that's the way it is." And millions of Americans agreed. They knew that Walter Cronkite had just told them the way the world was. That's why he was called "the most trusted man in America."

    And what Walter did is a lot different than what passes for reporting the news today: Reporting the arguments going on about the way the world is... and going no further than that.

    So, here's the solution to this whose-universe-is-right war:

    The news media - and not the opinion side, but the reporting side - must start reporting which side's argument is correct... and stop reporting only the argument between the two sides itself.

    The inability of the media to act as "the umpire" - the referee - between the two sides of our political "reality fight" is as astoundingly detrimental a development in our civic culture as the freedom corporations now have to spend as much as they want to influence policy development and election results.

    I'm not going to get into how the news industry got to this place. But I know it can't stay here. Because the only way American can return to being governed by a political establishment that - while they may disagree on some things - essentially lives in the same universe is for journalism to become journalism again, the way our Founding Fathers intended it to be.

    Imagine a future America in which - no matter how artfully one side used language to lie about the other side's position - our journalists didn't just interview those making such fanciful claims but called them out for being liars! Imagine how you would feel if that was what you saw on the news!

    To those journalists who say "I can't call people liars when I report on them," I say "It's called fact-checking. Try it. You'll like it."

    Imagine if the evening news didn't just report the debates going on in Congress - (as if the debates were news just for being debates... news because "people not getting along" has become newsworthy in unto itself)- but reported that "In today's debate on (fill in the subject of your choice), Senator XXX lied about what would happen if this bill was enacted."

    My God, the world of politics would be turned upside down!

    We, the people, act as if we have no choice but to tolerate the greatest country on Earth (at least as we see ourselves) being governed by people acting like 10 year old's having a never-ending school yard fight.

    "I'm right, and you're wrong." "No, I'm right; and you're wrong." "No, I'm right; and you're wrong." "No, I'm right; and you're wrong."

    Makes me want to throw up. And - to be honest - so does most of the coverage I watch (not counting reporting from some, like Rachel Maddow, who are starting to present lies as lies).

    We, the people don't have to tolerate this. We can demand better. And if we don't get it, then we really can stop paying for the poor quality news product we're currently getting (and which companies like The New York Times want to start charging us for).

    To all of those media executives who wonder how to get people to pay to read their newspapers or watch their news programs, if you would wake up and realize that you should give people the news they really need... that you should return to the job of being the umpire... the referee... that helps we, the people tell who is telling the truth and who isn't... you would start attracting paying customers again!

    You would be giving people news they would pay for, because it would be news that helps them have better lives... by helping our government function the way it was intended to function... by giving people the civic education they need to be informed citizens.

    It would truly be news "that is fit to print".

    I wrote an essay after Walter Cronkite died, which I will offer here in closing. I met Mr. Cronkite twice. And I swear he must be turning in his grave, as he sees how little his beloved profession is doing to fulfill its civic education role in American society today, a role which the Founding Fathers thought was so important that they enshrined the right to a free press in the Bill of Rights.

    I sincerely hope that this spirit of civic education returns to the profession of journalism. I can promise its leaders that we, the people will reward you for returning to this higher standard of public service.

    And that's the way it really is."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Canada Wants Matty's Bridge, AND At A Cheap Price

Why not just be honest and admit it already.

Why do we have to have so much drama that has destroyed Windsor over the last 8 years and which may last another decade as lawsuits play out? We could have avoided the worst of the near Depression if the Governments and Moroun had worked out their differences years ago.

In reality, unaccountable bureaucrats using an endless supply of taxpayer money thought they could crush a business person who made the Forbes list by using his money and with him taking the business risks. They just did not understand him and his family, like ships passing in the night.

Man oh man. The Windsor Star's story today was a real knee-slapper. I almost spilled my coffee from laughing so hard
  • "Windsor's Ambassador Bridge losing value, expert says"

Does anyone with half a brain think that the comments of some "expert" will influence Moroun? If it is such a disaster, then why did Prime Minister Harper issue a secret mandate letter over X-mas to buy the bridge?

Lord, we are back to a coffee discussion I had with an Ottawa bureaucrat years ago who explained to me in all seriousness that Moroun would sell out because he knew that Government could destroy the value of his bridge. According to this theory, Moroun would beg the Government to buy him out!

The 2 1/2 page spread in the Globe and Mail made a mockery of that bureaucratic theory. It's too bad that Peter Samuel had not read this history before he made his comments in the Star story

  • "For that reason, it makes sense for Moroun -- recently rated by Forbes as the 556th richest man in the world -- to sell the bridge, he said.

    "He is a businessman -- and obviously a very smart businessman. He might say 'let's talk,'" Samuel said.

    He said that once the DRIC bridge is built, Windsor could ban transport trucks from Huron Church Road, cutting off a major source of Moroun's revenue.

    "He's got to seriously think Windsor or the province might do something like that once the new bridge gets built. If he wants to get some value then he has to consider selling."

I am right after all and have been for a long time.

The DRIC road, Bill C-3 in which the Bridge Co was the only target, the anti-demolition by-law and Heritage action, the Schwartz Report and DRIC itself amongst other actions were nothing more than scare tactics to accomplish a purpose. Was DRTP? Who knows but it has now morphed into the doublestack rail tunnel which also would take away business from the Bridge and has now re-appeared co-incidentally.

The secret mandate letter was the proof to me that the Government's tactics did not work. The fact that it was Canwest who disclosed it was the icing on the cake. Its Chair must be hanging his head in shame.

To me, Matty cannot sell out cheaply. How can he? Wilbur Smith in its MDOT refresher has now said how huge the traffic volumes are going to be in the future (Mind you, their number is 10% less than the DRIC number only a short time before so all of their numbers are suspect anyway) Why should he give up that revenue value?

If he did not sell out in 2007, at the supposed height of the market, why would he sell at its bottom? The DRIC bridge may never be needed until 2035-2040 so until then, he is the only show in town. He is NOT like Canada or Ontario who must consider selling assets at any price to pay down their huge deficits. Moreover, he knows that if HE offers to sell to Canada then Canada is off the hook with the US re the Dubai ports issue. That is worth $$$ too from a political perspective for Canada.

Have you ever seen such news coverage of truck volume numbers increasing? I guess that was to convince the Michigan Legisaltors that there is a need for DRIC (even though the comparable 1999 numbers are much higher). However, it is a two-edged sword. It just makes Matty's bridge more valuable as traffic grows.

As Transort Canada's Mark Butler stated:

  • "Butler said the Canadian government is committed to the building a new bridge to provide additional capacity for an anticipated growth in border traffic."

That has to be worth an extra billion or two in itself. How can Transport Canada be wrong?

I am so glad that so many believe the value has decreased. That's in the interest of P3 operators isn't it!

Why wouldn't P3 operators want a cheap price? means that THEY make all of the future profits, not the Government. Moreover, if they know that Moroun is NOT their competitor, then they might even have an interest. Otherwise, without Government guarantees, do you think they can compete with tolls 3 or 4 times higher?

  • "And every day Moroun waits to sell, the value shrinks, he said. "If he would have sold in 2007, he would have got a higher price than now," Chase said. "Traffic and toll revenues were higher. Infrastructure investors could also borrow more money back then."

That also means that no P3 operator with the economic meltdown can afford to invest in a bridge that is supposedly losing traffic and revenue and has a smart competitor like Moroun. Even the Blue Water Bridge cannot compete with him around. Edgar (aka Eddie) could not find a financial source for the Tunnel deal.

Why then does Canada want to buy into this bridge when at the same time the Minister of Finance seemingly wants to get rid the Blue Water Bridge. Strange eh! Something stinks!

Wow, Mr. Chase's and Mr. Samuel's numbers come in so closely to those supposedly of Canada as disclosed in the stories that were reported with former Michigan Governor Blanchard telling us about the negotiations. Obviously, Matty will listen to them it would seem. NOT!

Does anyone really think that a headline and a story in a newpaper that is anti-Moroun and which is about to be sold because its parent company is in financial problems will cause one minute of distress in the Bridge Company offices? On the contrary, the price has just escalated even more IF the bridge was ever for sale and I doubt that it is!

Haven't the bureaucrats ever been taught how to negotiate a purchase? It is NOT done through the mainstream media. Today's Trucking maybe, but not the Star.

It just makes it so clear that Canada desperately wants the bridge and more importantly that it has failed once again in its mission.

I warned Stephen about that so many times in the past. I warned him that his negotiating position was diminishing and that he was backing himself into a corner.

Stephen just does not get it. He did not understand it when the new US Ambassador to Canada was appointed and he made a point of saying in his Senate Foreign Relations hearing:

  • "As I sit here today, I cannot help but think back to a family vacation I took when I was seven years old. We were going to leave the country for the first time. My parents, my two sisters, and I packed up our blue Buick to drive from Chicago to Niagara Falls. Our route took us to Detroit and we drove over the Ambassador Bridge. Despite my mother’s protestations that he would get us all killed, my father stopped the car in the middle of the bridge at the border. I will never forget my parents reaching from the front seat in Canada back into the United States and my sisters and I reaching forward into Canada. If anyone had said to that seven year old in the middle of that back seat on the Ambassador Bridge that some day he would be appearing before this great Committee as the nominee of the President to be Ambassador to Canada, I can assure you that he would not have believed it."

A nice, homey touch wasn't it but obviously, in the circumstances that he was getting into, a message to the Government of Canada that he understood the border file. He would not have been allowed to make that comment without specific approval from President Obama. He clearly had been briefed on the US Government's position in case the Senators asked a question. He was not going to be blind-sided as he was in the CTV interview.

Stephen should have understood that Matty is the biggest friend to trade between Canada and the US, not just for his bridge traffic but for his trucking and distribution business.

Stephen should have followed my advice and worked with Matty for the future of border traffic, not against him. Is it too late now for Stephen? Only Matty can answer that!

More Short Stuff

Lots of items to make you think


The battle to give money to the hospitals is lost. Everyone knows it because it is not political to be generous when you have to show you are tough to be re-elected. Heck, we cannot even give $3,817 for the Santa Claus parade! Give the money to the Toronto law firm of Miller Thomson instead because the Windsor Legal and Purchasing Departments are incapable of doing a tender properly it seems.

It seems to me though that Gord is scraping the bottom of the barrel to slam Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital
  • "A case of hearts versus the coming election

    They were oh-so-close. Or so it appeared. And then, out of the blue, in a train wreck of unlucky timing, they were sideswiped by the tragic (but entirely unrelated) revelations that dragged the hospital out of the shadows and thrust it under a national microscope...

    Yes. It's unfair as hell. The lawsuits and multiple investigations have nothing to do with the hospital's fundraising efforts on behalf of a $78-million expansion that will include an angioplasty centre and work and living space for new medical school residents."

YUP, pretend it's unfair and then use the problems to cut them off from money.

  • "But good luck persuading Windsorites that now is the right time to be writing cheques to an institution embroiled in crisis and facing big legal headaches...

    If it was a tough call before, it would be political poison now to force Windsor taxpayers to "donate" to a hospital with a cloud hanging over it."

Yes sir, if you are sick too, don't go to Hotel-Dieu Grace for help. You might have your head stuck in those clouds.


Well there goes the idea of attracting seniors to this area. Scrap that plan.

Our hospital will not be getting money and now we learn:

  • "Funding cuts threaten physician recruitment in Windsor

    Windsor and Essex County could face further challenges to physician recruitment as the province pulls funding for incentive programs and the city considers withdrawing funding for local recruitment efforts...

    The region's physician recruitment officer, Joan Mavrinac, said the changes will be a "big blow" to recruitment."

Actually, the whole recruitment approach has been wrong from Day 1 in my opinion, but that's another story.

It looks like we are doomed to continue to be the most underserviced area in the Province.

But things are not all bad. With fewer doctors, then we won't need to provide money to the hospital so much because we can drive to London and points east to get medical care.

Think of the money we will save so that Councillor Brister can tell us:

  • "We already have a standing levy. It's called the provincial tax return," said council's budget hawk...

    We want it. But we paid for it already. We should not be paying a second time for the same services."

Very Mayoral, Councillor, very. Too bad it achieves nothing.


Don't criticize me for saying nasty things about Edgar (aka Eddie) when he does a better job of going after himself out of his own mouth than I ever could. From the National Post:

  • "But the Mayor with the best odds in winning a plant is Eddie Francis of Windsor -- a city slow to diversify its manufacturing base. "We put all our eggs into the automotive basket," admits Mr. Francis.

    No one paid attention to the smoke signals that the big three automotive companies were sending out
    . "Back then, if you were to tell the shop owner he needed to diversify, that owner who was running three shifts a day, seven days a week on full payroll, would not have listened," says Mr. Francis.

    Now they are all ears. Plants such as Valiant Machine & Tool Inc. are retooling to service the aerospace and medical-device sectors. But with an unemployment rate still at 13%, the former car town is looking to green energy for economic salvation.

    "The Samsung announcement is critical to us," says Mr. Francis, who has met with company officials. His pitch is this: We have the most solar days in Ontario, a plan to invest $650-million in capital infrastructure projects and, most importantly, a skilled workforce.

    "I appreciate that other communities are trying to say they did this or that -- like creating a research park -- but we really build things here, that legacy is a skill set we have," he says."

However, Mayor Bradley of Sarnia told us what the reality is especially when there is a Provincial election next year and Dwight and Sandra like the jobs they are in:

  • "But Ms. Pupatello is adamant that her government isn't picking municipal favourites. "Samsung will go where it will work for them," she says.

    Let the marketing wars begin.

    "If it was a business decision, we'd stand a chance. But if it's a political decision, they will be built elsewhere," says Mr. Bradley, who is concerned that two powerful MPPs in Cabinet-- Ms. Pupatello and Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance -- are both from the Windsor region, a city competing for the Samsung deal.

    So, Mr. Bradley is doing what he does best: Promoting his city to Samsung and the government as a good place to establish a plant"


  • "The spread of boarded-up homes and urban blight across Windsor has helped spur at least two community activists to enter this year's municipal election race.

    The city's failure to combat the problem, including allowing the Ambassador Bridge company to buy up and then board up homes in Olde Sandwich Towne, "erodes people's confidence" in their city, said Ward 3 candidate Tristan Fehrenbach. Ignoring untended yards and old cars parked on lawns sends a message to visitors, investors and those the city is seeking to attract "that we do not care," he added...

    "We're starting to get that old reputation again, that the west-end is a place to be avoided," said Elliott, who, as executive director of the Sandwich Teen Action Group has for years been successfully steering local youths clear of trouble.

    After nearly four years of witnessing the proliferation of burnt-out and vacant homes in his neighbourhood and wondering why the city won't act, Elliott is disturbed by the trend and said it's time for fresh faces on council."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I am all in favour of it. Completely! I just wish I had known about it earlier.

No, not that kind of featherbedding, the unionist stuff:
  • "Featherbedding is a pejorative term for the practice of hiring more workers than are needed to perform a given job, or to adopt work procedures which appear pointless, complex and time-consuming merely to employ additional workers."

The real kind of featherbedding--sleeping on a bed of feathers.

If you want sticker shock, forget cars. Go and price out a mattress these days. When one buys a mattress every 20 years or so, one does not really watch their prices that closely. I've seen some of the high end ones priced near $3,000!

Marshall (my brand), Sealy, Serta, Simmons, Stearns and Foster, Monarch... even Trump-branded, who knows anything about mattresses.

I still remember the commercial with the bowling balls and pins on a mattress and now we have foam-type ones that are NASA recognized.

I was not sure that I needed a new mattress but my back was hurting a bit. After doing some research at a mattress site, spending a lot of money on a mattress that could sag early on did not make a lot of sense. Rather the suggestion was to buy a mid-priced one and get a topper. If the topper failed after a few years, it could be replaced at a fraction of the price of a new mattress.

I happened to be flipping the TV dial and saw that the Shopping Channel was offering a featherbed at a good price BUT since I had no idea what it was like and was not sure if I would be allergic to the feathers, I decided to buy one in person at a store where I could return it easily if it did not work out.

So off I went to Sears at Devonshire Mall to get one before I bought a new mattress. I decided to buy a more expensive one, from Pacific Coast Feather Company. Fortunately, it was on sale, 40% off so the price was not too bad. (NOTE Macys was selling it online at an even better price plus an additional 20% off but I had no US address to which I could send it). Believe it or not, Sears did NOT stock Featherbed covers so I had to get one via JC Penney to get the manufacturer's cover. They actually ship directly to Canada.

Who needed a new mattress! From the reviews I read, sleeping on a Pacific Coast featherbed was like sleeping on a cloud. How right they were!

Taking it out of the package, it fluffed up on its own into double or triple the packed size thickness in about an hour or so. (I defy a mere mortal to try and put it back in to the package!) Putting it into the cover was a snap as well. Treat it like a big pillow and slide up the cover.

The first time sleeping in it, it felt so good. It felt warm and snuggly on a cold evening. I seemed to sink in but the mattress below was firm enough that the combination of firm mattress and soft feathers just made everything seem perfect. No sagging feeling.

Normally, I toss and turn before falling asleep. That's harder to do now and requires some effort to change positions because the featherbed fits to your shape and you do sink in a bit. However, it was NOT a problem since I fell asleep almost immediately!

And the sleep, it was a very deep and restful one. The bed is supposed to "cushion pressure points like your shoulders and hips" whatever that means. All I know is that I have never felt so well rested when I got up in the morning and with no aches and back pains. No allergic reaction to the feathers either.

Pounding it a bit like a pillow fluffs it up again in the morning and I expect that fluffing it when changing sheets will help keep it in good shape for years to come.

Speaking of sheets, one needs the extra depth fitted ones to deal with the extra featherbed height on top of the mattress. I know a place that has a good Martex sheet sale fairly often and there is a 10% discount for opening a charge account but that is for another BLOG!

Good sleep and saving money, what a combo. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Amazing Stories

I am sure that you will not believe your eyes when you read this.


Forget shipping our vegetables to Europe to get the big bucks.

Edgar (aka Eddie) should demand that Canada let the Bridge Company build their Enhancement Project Bridge NOW.

Matty would then build a huge distribution warehouse for our local farmers and his trucking company would take our vegetables and ship them all over the US for our farmers to make really big money:
  • "Florida's usually exports 11 million kilograms of tomatoes per week. But exports have fallen to less than a quarter of that, said Reggie Brown of the Florida Tomato Grower's Exchange.

    As a result, the average wholesale price for an 11-kilogram box of the fruit has jumped from US$6.50 last year to US$30.

    Fresh tomatoes cost consumers an average of US$1.64 a pound during the week of March 4, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's 22 per cent more than during the same week in 2009.

    The shortage was being felt by some American fast-food customers. Signs were posted at Wendy's restaurants saying tomatoes would be provided only if a customer requests them due to limited availability."


An article in Canadian Business about border thickening but it brought up this bogeyman again:

  • "With one stroke, Abdulmutallab compromised important border infrastructure investments by Canada and the United States as part of their economic stimulus programs. The plan was to ensure aging and insufficient infrastructure don't hamper the $1.6 billion in goods that crosses our common border every day. As well, our politicians worked together to bail out General Motors and Chrysler, which produce vehicles on both sides of the border. Bridges may be built and tunnels dug, but they can still be blocked by ever-increasing security rules. Thanks to Abdulmutallab and his explosive underwear, America is once again clamping down on border activity, even at the vital crossings that link Windsor to Detroit, the jugular vein in North America's body of trade.

    The companies hurt most include the Detroit automakers that Canadian and U.S. taxpayers are borrowing billions to keep afloat. In Canada alone, taxpayers are spending an estimated $1.4 million for every auto job saved, because the survival of these manufacturing giants is considered crucial to the stability of the North American economy...

    And the need to protect the Canadian and U.S. economies from temporary disruptions caused by terrorism is one of the reasons that an additional crossing between Windsor and Detroit is considered an absolute necessity by all levels of government on both side of the border. But fear of terrorism is slowing it down every day."

Let's get rid of this ridiculous DRIC justification once and for all. As a reader wrote:

  • "We forget that we had redundant World Trade Center towers and terrorists knocked them both down. They didn’t come down because one building was too close to the other, they both came down because terrorists targeted both. Separate planes crashed into the two towers about 45 minutes apart. Otherwise, one tower might still be there. Even the dual Ambassador Bridge spans couldn’t be knocked down with a single attack."


We dodged the bullet. This time:

  • "U.S. exempts Canadians from $10 visitor fee

    The British will pay, the Aussies will pay, and so too will the rest of America's closest allies under a new travel initiative that will levy a $10 fee on visitors to the United States.

    Everyone, that is, but Canadians, who are exempt and will continue to enjoy fee-free travel on the merits of "our special relationship," U.S. officials confirmed Thursday...

    Travel patterns between Canada and the U.S., meanwhile, continue to tilt southward, with fewer Americans making the cross-border journey.

    In 2009, 20.5 million U.S. residents visited Canada, a 9.2 per cent decline from the 22.6 million in 2008, according to Statistics Canada."

Imagine the embarrassment for Sean O'Dell if that tax was imposed and border traffic died.


The fire, not expediting demolition:

  • "Fire destroys MDOT-owned house
    Vacant home was slated for demolition in plaza project

    A home slated to be demolished as part of the Blue Water Bridge plaza expansion project met its demise Sunday after someone lit it on fire...

    Port Huron Fire Capt. Mark White said the fire was started in the back stairwell of the two-story home and quickly spread.

    There were indicators an accelerant was used to start the fire, he said. No gas or electricity was running to the building...

    The house is owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation and was slated for demolition as part of the Blue Water Bridge plaza expansion project, White said. The charred building will be boarded up and then torn down, he said...

    Rob Morosi, MDOT spokesman, said the house was slated to be torn down within the next month. He said if problems with the houses became a trend, the department would look into expediting the process.

    Joseph Conard, who lives across the street from the house, said he wasn't too surprised arson had come to his neighborhood.

    He said as the homes affected by the bridge plaza expansion have emptied, people have been breaking into them and taking whatever they can find.

    "I can almost say it wasn't unexpected," Conard said"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do We Have A Border Stalemate

Honestly, nothing makes sense to me any more on the border file.

Canada has a secret Mandate to buy the Ambassador Bridge yet the Federal Budget only mentions $10M over 3 years "to support the legal, financial and technical work required to advance this [DRIC] project." Where's the slush fund hidden to pay for the Bridge if Moroun decides to sell?

For 3 1/2 years, the Coast Guard has held the Bridge Company file open. However, a few months before the Michigan Legislature is to decide if it is going to support DRIC or not, the Coast Guard suddenly hits pretty hard by returning the Bridge Company permit application to them but then tells them they can re-apply once certain conditions are met.

However, DRIC has property problems too and yet no one seems concerned about them:
  • "A land purchase by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun has created a new complication for the Detroit River International Crossing project -- but the Michigan Department of Transportation insists the plan for a publicly owned span won't be derailed..

    On Thursday, the Moroun-owned company Central Transport International Inc. announced it has bought property in southwest Detroit to consolidate its truck terminal operations.

    The 42-acre parcel of land is located on West Jefferson Avenue in the Delray area of Detroit. The southeast edge of the property overlaps the proposed footprint of the DRIC bridge...

    Asked what DRIC had planned to put on the land now owned by Moroun, Shreck replied: "I think it's where some access ramps may be."

Move-counter/move...and we have not seen the major lawsuits by either side started yet. We are in the skirmishes stage right now.

Good old Jack Lessenberry posted a column about the Coast Guard action and I decided to respond to it:

  • "If only life was as simple as Jack thinks.

    Let's assume Matty has been stopped, an assumption one ought not to make so quickly. Does that mean a DRIC bridge will be built?

    Nope, remember there are all kinds of lawsuits out there already that will have to be litigated including one that could stop MDOT cold.

    Canada tried once before to beat Moroun over Bridge ownership and was forced to settle. What has changed since then to improve Canada's position?

    A new bridge may NOT be needed until as late as 2035-40 according to MDOT's Algurabi at the hearings of Senator Cropsey. So why would money be spent at a time when the US and Michigan are in deep debt? Michigan already cannot pay for hundreds of road and bridge projects.

    Moreover, traffic is now below 1999 levels.

    The Ambassador Bridge would still be competing for traffic so who would invest in bonds that might never be repaid since tolls at the new bridge would have to be several times higher than Moroun's to pay back the billions involved. The traffic would stay at the old bridge and the new one would go broke. Or would Michigan taxpayers have to subsidize the DRIC bridge operations?

    Of course there is no P3 legislation in Michigan and the MDOT traffic report has problems since it does not meet the statutory requirement.

    Canada's secret mandate letter issued last X-mas to buy the Ambassador Bridge proves that Canada has NO intention and never did to build a DRIC Bridge but wants Matty's bridge and to build a second bridge there. DRIC was just a smokescreen to get Moroun to sell cheaply.

    What we have Jack is a stalemate right now. It can only be resolved by the Governments and Moroun sitting down and honestly trying to negotiate a resolution of the border war or we will be in this mess for decades.

    We have lost already the period from late 2002 until today because of this silly bickering."

I just do not get it. Why can't the parties work together to arrive at a solution satisfactory to everyone?

No Postage Required

It's true. No stamps are needed if you want to send me an email. So what is your excuse for not writing now?

1) CUPE has become a joke within the departments at City Hall. The strike of 2009 was a perfect storm of sorts;

1) The Great Recession and Windsor's ailing economy
2) An anti - union council and mayor
3) Two weak and inexperienced CUPE presidents
4) Minor CUPE provincial and national representation..

Jean and Jim should not seek re-election. If we vote them back in, then we deserve what we get. How can we decertify?

2) Someone is running against Jim Wood!!!

3) Handi-Transit negotiated a collective that contained a 1.5% increase.
Better than all of the City agreements and without a strike. Maybe council could ask how they did it????

4) Eddie should fly in garbage from Toronto for the Essex land fill.
This way his cargo hub is established and the dump gets filled.
Jobs and more jobs.

It's a win win situation and makes a good garbage business case.
It just fits, doesn't it?

5) With regards to today's blog:

They claim Detroit does not even have a grocery store left in the core. This creates a food desert and helps answer the question many affluent citizens have asked; 'How can poor children become obese?'

6) Progress on Childcare

1/ All centres will remain open until September 1st
2/ PAC meetings have been restarted
3/ Centres now accepting new students
4/ Amherstburg Council voted Monday, March 8, 2010 to send letters to Windsor City Council (to reconsider the decision to shut down all public daycares), MPPs Bruce Crozier & Dwight Duncan & Dalton McGuinty (to ensure that childcare is a priority in the provincial budget) AND to conduct their OWN study

7) Yes why am I still part of CUPE? I also wonder why I continue working for the City. Why people with more than 20 years seniority are losing their jobs. I wonder why garbage collectors are being outsourced when they rank number 3 in the country. I would not want their job ever, they do a great job and you couldn’t pay me enough to do that lifting all day not to mention the smell and abuse they take from some people verbally or by the way some people throw out their trash. The day care workers devote their loving energy to the children under their care. I’d like to know who is going to benefit from this. The children will suffer, the parents will suffer and we will have how many empty buildings? 5 that will be left abandoned. I wonder why the power that is his highness Edgar is picking on us small people. There are managers who manage the managers before you actually get up to the top of the totem pole. This is ridiculous. The out of town consultants the out of town lawyers like we have none here in Windsor. I’m sure we have many capable consultants and lawyers here in our once great City that we surely don’t have to pay the extra expense of hiring from our City. Once again “double standard.” Does not want an outside arbitrator to settle the strike however he has again hired an outside law firm to consult on his latest project.

I actually love my job, and don’t consider the job I do work. However, I am getting quite concerned at so of the things I see going on around me. I ask myself as a City taxpayer- yes I pay my own wages, why do we have all of these high paying salaried positions with full benefits and instructors who put their heart and soul into their jobs are only allowed to work 24 hours a week...

I guess cutting a few CUPE hours here and there are going to save BIG money so we can continue with the expenditures of Red Bull, going overseas, ever heard of SKYPE. Money on consultant after consultant, lawyers for this and that.

So I still haven’t figured out the answer, why am I still a CUPE member. How do we decertify and bring in the CAW? I think that the majority of CUPE members are women with single families some are afraid for their jobs, some afraid of the ramifications of trying to fight the union and the employer. Maybe we are just complacent Canadians that allow others to walk all over us.

8) The Labour relations hearing was not FRIVOLOUS. The OLB didn’t say that. They cited the primary reason was that an agreement had been reached. If the hearing hadn’t been put on hold, that argument could not have been used. So…..

Who asked for the OLB hearings to be put on hold? Why did CUPE agree to that?

It’s funny though how quickly an agreement was reached after the OLB application was made in June. If the Mayor hadn’t flown the coop to Greece, it may have been over sooner.

But CUPE was stupid in their application. They stated that the OLB determine what penalty to impose.

9) I fully expected this response since the Union didn't attach any monetary factor to the submissions... We, the body of the unions, both L82 & L543 voted to continue the submission anyway. We wanted a monetary return attached, but it didn't happen. This is just another example of our "useless" leadership. Useless seems to be the right word, since they don't seem to research efficiently or apply effectively. Hindsight being 20-20 as it is....

10) I think unbelievable is an understatement.

The members now have cause to decertify the union because of non-representation. The complaint to the OLRB was pooched in form and content and set it up to be dismissed.

I don't think there is much motivation or will from the members to do anything more, at this point.

Unbelievable. What a sad, sad, situation.

11) [CUPE] Wow!...Talk about incompetent. A league unto themselves.

12) and we the little guy loses again. maybe the member should bring charges against the union.

13) i am so very disappointed.

14) At the high point there were 300 then by the time of the speeches it had shrunk to 250 with people leaving to run back to work. "The Rock" radio was there and I saw a TV camera but not sure who it was. The mayor had one of his minions filming for evidence. Police were in attendance. It was as if the Eddie Francis Strike was still in progress.

It was amazing to see that many people out in the middle of a Friday afternoon workday for this march. Who has the time?

Some people that made the time were Parents & Children, Early Childhood Educators, Children's Aid Workers, CAW National Skilled Trades Workers, CAW 444 Workers, CUPE Workers and even Concerned Residents of this municipality (imagine that!). We marched from the Casino on McDougall Ave, between the 400 building & City Hall, back onto McDougall Ave to Wyandotte and then east to the Glengarry Childcare Centre.

Presenters at the mike included Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario President, Jean Fox, CUPE Local 543 President, and Children's Aid Society Windsor. There were others but the most respected was Scott Cipkar of Amherstburg. A parent to a child in public daycare there. He spoke of his concerns with these changes coming up and how his family is trying to cope. Said it is not a simple matter of just moving a kid around. There are scheduling issues, logistics, personalities, and that we can always keep a public daycare open with taxpayers footing the bill but what happens when everything is profit-driven? Without a safety net, the doors can close overnight (like our plants) and the impact on the child is immense. The family comes tumbling down. And when families are tumbling down, well what happens to our community then?

Another thing that Scott had to say was this, "Politicians have forgotten that it was us that put them there and it is us that can take them down!"

15) did you not see council on monday? lewenza standing up to eddie announcing to residents that he has been asking to present to council and residents for 4 MONTHS! and the mayor has been blocking the presentation to the public!

16) Same story, different city

"OSHAWA -- It's been just over three years since the General Motors Centre opened its doors, and on the surface, not much has changed.

City councillors are still lamenting the lack of shows at the downtown Oshawa arena and the finances are still in the red -- the City is on the hook for $537,000 in 2009losses alone.

It's a frustrating state of affairs for GMC general manager Vince Vella and the rest of the Global Spectrum team, which took over management and operations of the venue in the summer of 2008, after Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment asked to be released from its contract.

Mr. Vella sighs when he talks about the fact some councillors and taxpayers still argue the $45-million venue should never have been built...

Mr. Vella says it's unfair to judge a facility on the performance in its first three years, especially when those years involve a sudden management change and a crushing recession...

But, making the GMC Durham's entertainment destination is a threefold challenge, one that Mr. Vella calls "a journey, not a sprint."

First, Global Spectrum staff has to understand the community enough to gauge which shows will be successful in this market...

Next, staff needs to convince promoters to take a chance on a city that many outsiders see as an economic wasteland thanks to the state of General Motors.
"People think there are tumbleweeds blowing down Simcoe Street," Mr. Vella said. "We try to tell them about the university, the courthouse, the health care, all the things that are happening here, but it takes time."

Finally, Global Spectrum needs thousands of people -- anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 depending on the configuration of the show -- to buy tickets, so Oshawa builds a reputation among skeptical promoters as a sure thing, not a risky venture..."

17) A question... about 4 months ago with a lot of "hoopla" from our favourite Mayor it was announced that we would see a new, dynamic economic development commissioner starting with the city and county February 1st. Has this new person started? If not, why the silence and what is the story?

18) Now they have outsourced shredding services to a London Co. Today Cintas came in and removed all their shredding boxes. Contract was a huge deal for their co., now they will probably lose local jobs. Contract was given to a London Co. who will drive down here, pick up shredding nd take it back to London. Shame on the City, giving more work to out of towners instead of hard working Windsorites.

19) Please ask this question in your blog sometime….Do we not have any f… lawyers in Windsor??? LOL

20) In your Blog "We need their dough here" You mentioned about how Canada Bread was looking to build a new plant and how Windsor should be going after them. I don't know if you heard today but Hamilton was chosen as the city that will get the new plant and 300 jobs.

"Canada Bread Co. has purchased a parcel of land in the former North Glanbrook Industrial Park, now called the Red Hill Business Park, to build the country's largest bakery. The move is expected to bring 300 new jobs to Hamilton, as well as an extra 120 jobs during construction.

Gary Goodyear, the federal minister responsible for southern Ontario's Federal Economic Development Agency, was also on hand this afternoon to announce $2 million in design and engineering support for the project. The cash is intended to kick-start the project as part of the economic action plan."

21) ok, now you have stumped me, what do the feds want? You can build a bridge, own and operate it but you can't make people use it. Are they trying to drive Moroun out of business?

22) Great job!! Keep up the great work...

23) Have you put you name in the hat for mayor OR AT LEAST COUNCIL. You know now that Sheila Wisdom WILL BE RUNNING!!!!!!. I can't see how she gave up a 100,000 a yr job for that. Also with that kind of enormous salary yessiree I will surely NOT be giving money to the United Way. What are the others salaries there. My goodness what a slap in the face to the lowly labourer in this city.


"Tiger Woods

"I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled," Woods said.

"I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules; the same rules that apply to everyone apply to me."

More letters To The BLOGMeister

I thought you might be interested in reading the thoughts of some readers. Don't be bashful, send in your comments too.

Oh and have you told your family, friends and colleagues to check out my BLOG daily? If not, what are you waiting for!

To make it even easier for you, just send a list of people and I will send them out an email every day letting them know what the topics du jour are.

1) Provincial audits have always brought with them a great deal of anxiety, but this one is particularly difficult because it has hit the press. Heavy pressure has been placed on Ms. Warsh, transferred to Teresa Piruzza, placed upon the shoulders of middle management, who in turn have ‘cracked the whip’ on caseworkers. Many procedural changes have been introduced as a result of the recent audit findings, designed to reduce the occurrence of overpayments. OW cases must be monitored more closely now, and on a more frequent basis, so that potential overpayments can be identified earlier and hopefully prevented altogether.

Here are some of the reasons why overpayments occur or have occurred in the past:

First of all, approval of OW pending EI has never really been considered as overpayment, rather they are ‘assigned’, and usually get reimbursed. They are not entered into the computer system for collection. I do not believe that auditors see this as overpayment either. Occasionally, errors occur where the EI is not reimbursed and income is back dated; but, these overpayments do not represent the majority.

During the strike, an ‘approve everyone’ policy was adopted, since there was not enough trained staff available to manage and assess eligibility. Eligibility checks were not performed, and monies were issued for nearly everyone applying for or in receipt of Ontario Works. Upon returning after the strike, staff had to sort through the new files and audit the existing ones to determine ongoing eligibility. This was, and still is an ongoing task which must be performed while maintaining all other duties. The backlog from the strike and the current economic situation make the task all that much more difficult to complete in a timely fashion.

Since Ontario Works was introduced in 1997, active participation became a priority, and benefits that would assist participation were encouraged. Employment Related Expenses is one of the benefits that could be used at staff discretion for any ‘reasonable’ activity or employment need. Now, because of infrequent or irregular monitoring, ERE has been targeted as a benefit that has been overpaid. Transportation allowances or bus passes come from this fund, and has traditionally been issued for all employable participants. The fund could also be used for car repairs, grooming, equipment, etc. to remove some of the barriers to employment. Now, the department has put heavy restrictions on the use of this benefit, requiring verification of need for every dollar issued. In too many instances, it was determined that funds were issued when the participant was not attending any programs or actively participating in any activities.

Annual eligibility reviews were not being carried out in a timely fashion (this has always been a problem). Shortage of staff and time management issues are often to blame for this problem. Unfortunately, if there is an eligibility issue that goes unchecked or not reported, an overpayment continues to escalate until the review is completed. Simple issues can become large overpayments if not dealt with immediately, such as incorrect shelter costs entered in the system, or changes in income or assets. These are easily incurred, as many participants are unaware of how these areas can affect eligibility and don’t always report the change.

Some overpayments are incurred by fraud, where the participant knowingly withholds information that would affect eligibility. Usually, this means a failure to report changes in income or assets. Only a small portion of these cases are prosecuted as fraud; most are applied to overpayment.

Lastly, computer/human error can account for many overpayments. If not caught immediately, these errors can be costly. As an example, just a mistake in an effective date can create thousands of dollars in overpayment. Stress levels and adequate training can play a large part in addressing this problem.

I hope I was able to shed some light upon this issue of overpayments, and that you find the information useful. As for the Star, all they care about is their ‘Headline of the Day’, and are not necessarily concerned with the facts. That article had plenty of effect at the workplace, and morale is at an all time low.

It is no wonder that staff does not fight the battle with the cutbacks, privatization discussions, job losses and CUPE’s apparent lack of intestinal fortitude. They have been beaten into submission!

2) It is true when and individual applies in Windsor for money from Ontario Works while waiting for money from the EI program that individual must sign assignment forms against the EI funds and once the money starts flowing from the Federal Government,the assignments are honoured and deductions are made from that individual's EI cheque and paid back directly from the Federal Government to the Windsor Ontario Works Office.

3) Hi Ed, after reading your blog I have to write you to mention this. I was a fulltime student at St Clair College this past summer from May to Aug and I will tell you this. Everyday the students would come into class and tell other students to go to the welfare office and get a check BECAUSE while the strike was on they are just handing out the money, doing no checking or verifying. I know people who did this all through the strike. With a phoney address and all. I sat there as a mature student just shaking my head.

Its all to sad to be funny. I just wanted to tell you because it fit todays blog so well.

Thanks for your ear.

4) Nominations for 82 executive board is next week with voting in May! Could see change!

5) I wonder what percentage of the $530,000 is as a result of improperly approving people for the bridge loan by managers during the civic strike? When the trained and competent workers were walking the picket line, forced out by Eddie, the managers were inside approving people left and right because of the over whelming numbers applying because of the tremendous downturn in the economy. Just a thought.

6) Matty's price for the Ambassador Bridge just tripled that's if Harper still wants to buy it.

7) What's with Windsor Star FAILING TO PUBLISH all of our letters to the editor and now publishing the very same letter (minus only one sentence) to the editor twice within two weeks?

How often is this happening?

A bit of lobbying for Red Bull's $8MIL investment... This is shameful in my estimation.

Close our daycares to save $200,000 this year Mr Provincial Finance Minister but spend $4MIL to entertain the foolish masses? And to see my local newspaper help him do it just p***es me off!!!!! It is so very wrong to lead the public this way!!!!

Red Bull Air Race should be welcome February 27, 2010
... what they don't do is bring hundreds of thousands of people in to our downtown
area for almost a week.

Red Bull makes money for city February 11, 2010
... what they don't do is bring hundreds of thousands of people in to our downtown
area for almost a week.

8) [RE Bullying] THANK YOU....

Putting the correct label on this for the public to see is ABSOLUTELY INVALUABLE...

you've just reached more city staff, and others, in one blog than I have been able to in 10 years

9) When I read the article in the paper about the absentee councillors, we all knew that the mayor aimed this directly at Bill Marra. How very sad for Bill and his wife that they have to take this abuse. But we have come to realize that according to the mayor all is fair in love and his getting re-elected. Anyone who can read a newspaper, blog or listen to the news knows what Eddie's feelings are for Bill Marra. Now we know that Bill not only has to deal with the illness of his wife but also the petty, mean and wnwarrented attack on him. As usual the Windsor Star did their usual bang up job of doing anything in their power to help Eddie get re-elected.

10) Oh, that EDGRRRRRR....

I'm not a huge fan of ANYONE on the present council, but I can't fathom such unmitigated cruelty, especially out in the light where everyone could see... normally, this sort of abysmal behaviour happens in secret...

11) my only regret is that I didn't see through him BEFORE I voted for him first time around

12) Keep up the good work.

13) Arena results not surprising.

Years ago, when asked directly by Global Spectrum, a certain promoter in town told them that getting premium, revenue-generating shows at any new Windsor arena facility would be very difficult, if not impossible – and the reasons why. At the time, the reasons had nothing to do with the economy, and everything to do with how this business works. The reasons still have everything to do with how the business works – the economy is only exacerbating them, along with our biggest competitor, the Province of Ontario down there on Riverside Drive.

This certain promoter also told the same thing to any councilor or city official who would listen. Apparently they listened, but didn’t hear.

This is what we ALWAYS get when our civic “leaders” choose to listen to outside influences who tell them what they WANT to hear, instead of hometown experts who tell them what they NEED to hear.

$90,000 a year to fail – I could have used that gig! Thanks for reaffirming what I already knew.


Basic Reasons:

Location: surrounded by big-time venues – Joe Louis Arena, Cobo Hall, Fox Theatre, Comerica Park, Palace of Auburn Hills, DTE (formerly Pine Knob). These are some of the biggest halls and sheds in North America. They didn’t get that way by letting every little rinky-dink arena within 50 miles eat their lunch. Windsor is in that restricted area.

Artists: How do they keep their prices up? By not performing at every little rinky-dink arena within 50 miles of their meal tickets (see above).

It’s a simple business principle – competition.

14) Ah, fun with numbers. The city memo is obviously lacking in detail and as
such is difficult to base any firm conclusions on however, I am struck by
the labour amounts. The memo indicates that the cost (wages + benefits) of
retaining 20 of the 60 workers who are guaranteed employment is $1,336,608.
If that is the case then wouldn't the current labour costs of the 60 workers
be three times that amount, not the reduced amount indicated? Also,
presumably these 20 people would bump other lower seniority positions and
there would be some additional cost savings.

I agree with your comments about the equipment and while past practices do
not give me alot of comfort, the City could/should stipulate in its tender
that the successful bidder will have to purchase the equipment or
alternatively, will agree to lease the equipment from the City for a
specific period of time.

The argument does highlight one archaic union principal, that being
guaranteed employment. As you well know, that is unheard of in the "real"
world. The requirement that the City must retain/retrain these people and
place them into other positions is absurd in the "real" world and quite
frankly no company, either public or private should be forced to operate
under such stringent labour practices. At the end of the day, the City, the
public and the low seniority union members suffer at the expense of 20
employees. There is growing unrest within the union shops and the younger
generation seems to be getting the short straw in most of the instances.

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Auditor General Coming

I heard that I was NOT supposed to find out about the vote that went on at the in camera meeting re the Auditor General.

Obviously there was a BLOG hiding there and I had to rise to meet the challenge.

Back on September 13, 2008 for those of you who are superstitious and can feel another Civic disaster coming, this was reported about Windsor's proposed new Auditor General:
  • "The city's audit committee has hired the nation's largest headhunter firm in its search for a new auditor general for Windsor.

    City council earlier this year pushed to create the position to increase financial and political monitoring of the city, as well as its committees, agencies and boards.

    The job is designed to not only point out wrongdoing, but also inefficiencies. The new role has greater powers than the current city auditor's office in terms of what or who it can investigate...

    the committee selected the Toronto office of worldwide firm Ray & Berndston to oversee the process.,,

    The recruitment is expected to cost about $45,000, while the new job will pay up to $134,000.

    The audit committee also voted Friday to ensure four of its five members not be involved in the final selection.

    Chairman Max Zalev is top administrator for Windsor Utilities Commission and Enwin Utilities, George Sandela is a WUC board member, while Alan Halberstadt and Bill Marra are city councillors. All were felt to be potentially in a conflict position because an auditor general could investigate the utilities and council.

    "This is not like we are recruiting a senior manager or executive director," Marra said. "I think we need to remove any perception of bias on this, make sure there are no perceived conflicts."

Wow, it is taking almost as long as trying to find a new CEO for the Undevelopment Commission. We did get someone didn't we. He has been virtually invisible since his start date.

In any event, a few weeks ago:

  • "The city's audit committee is asking city council for approval to hire an auditor general. Funding for the position was approved two years ago, but the job has not been filled. Chairman Max Zalev would not identify the individual under consideration for the job. "We have someone we are working close with," he said. "We are sending a letter to get approval from council. We are hoping to make an announcement in the near future."

That Council approval came I am told at the last in camera Council meeting.

Annie, the Pizza Queen, should be thrilled:

  • "I'd like to plow that money into something with teeth that addresses what taxpayers really care about: how their money is spent. Plow that $43,000 into the new auditor general's office."

    What I want is an auditor general, someone whose job is to hold council and administrators accountable for taxpayers' money, ensuring value for dollars spent. An auditor general can study all municipal operations, including local boards, municipally controlled corporations and organizations that receive municipal grants. An auditor general has access to all books, records, accounts and reports, can examine people under oath and subpoena.

    I'm thinking of a Sheila Fraser, auditor general of Canada. Canadians love her because she pulls no punches."

Of course everyone wants such an officer. He/she could have investigated the 400 Building, would be able to examine the arena expenditures, could decide if we received value for money with all of the consultants fees paid on the border file and who knows what else.

Apparently, the audit committee wanted a budget of $500K for the Office. Not an unreasonable amount I would have thought.

So everyone was onside right? The Mayor and all of the Councillors supported setting up the office right. After all, his/her function is:

  • "responsible for assisting the council in holding itself and its administrators accountable for the quality of stewardship over public funds and for achievement of value for money in municipal operations."

Uh, no. At least three Councillors voted against it or so my inside moles tell me. Who were the three who must have been terrified for some reason to have such a position. Go on guess. I bet you can't.

Why would the three be so opposed to a person who is required to:

  • "perform his or her responsibilities under this Part in an independent manner"

And has the power to:

  • "examine any person on oath on any matter pertinent to an audit or examination under this Part."

And has very extensive powers:

  • "For the purpose of an examination, the Auditor General has the powers that Part II of the Public Inquiries Act confers on a commission, and that Part applies to the examination as if it were an inquiry under that Act."

Ok, Ok. I will tell you who they are, according to the inside moles. The three are Councillors Brister, Gignac and Valentinis.

Can you believe it, the penny-pinching hardliners have a problem with an A-G. I heard that Councillor Valentinis was concerned that the AG's office could run up huge bills in an investigation. A nice try to kill the Office but the poor Councillor forgot that the Act sets out specifically:

  • "Subject to this Part, in carrying out his or her responsibilities, the Auditor General may exercise the powers and shall perform the duties as may be assigned to him or her by the municipality in respect of the municipality, its local boards and such municipally-controlled corporations and grant recipients as the municipality may specify."

Some cynics might say they voted against since a bad arena audit could end their political careers, especially if it came out just before the election. All three of them were on the Arena Steering Committee. But that cannot be. Look at what they said in their final report:

In passing, note that the Mayor was there for a whole 7 minutes out of the 57 minutes of the meeting. Yes he was there so you cannot knock him on his attendance record but what was the point since he missed most of it.

Honestly, I wish I could tell you exactly why the three voted NO but I cannot. As I pointed out above, the meeting was held in camera so the poor members of the public would not know anything.

But do you what to know the real hoot....a recorded vote was taken at the in camera meeting! Imagine that. A recorded vote in which three Councilors voted NO. Why bother having a recorded vote in a secret in camaera meeting. It's ridiculous. The public would never have known about it but for this BLOG!

Perhaps a member of the traditional media could ask a few follow-up questions. I would do so but I am still waiting for the Mayor's Office to answer my request re attendance at non-Council meetings. It looks as if the Star has better access and gets speedier results than I do.