Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Is A Boycott Summer Fest Facebook Page Next

I wonder if the Facebook group "Keep Windsor's Summerfest at the Riverfront!" will now morph into one called "Boycott Summerfest at the WFCU parking lot."

Since the City owns the site, and if people get mad enough, it might be shortened to "Boycott WFCU" since this looks like nothing more than a money-grab to make the failing arena white elephant look profitable if Edgar (aka Eddie) runs for Mayor again.

Is that what this means
  • "I don't like the decision," said Sleiman, who hopes to spearhead other events downtown.

    "I beg everyone in the downtown area and in the west end to not go to that carnival."

That might be an interesting idea since you know Summer Fest will not be coming back otherwise. As was written previously:

  • "Durocher said she would like Summer Fest -- which attracts 90,000 people over its three-week run -- to return to its old riverfront location next year. But she admits that decision depends on how well the carnival fares at the WFCU Centre.

    "If it goes to the WFCU and it's a monumental success, it would not only be our decision, it would also be the choice of World's Finest Shows," she said. "Wherever we go, if there's more return on investment, that's where they're going to want to go."

Wow, I wonder how many downtown restauranteurs will get upset, from one-star ones to five-star ones since a lot of business would be taken away. Or will they be convinced to be quiet since there might be other goodies they will be promised say, like an urban village again.

Or, I got it, how about a canal???!!!!

How about trotting that boondoggle out already. Why it's the salvation for the downtown isn't it and just before the election too. That mind's eye vision has been too quiet for too long. What a perfect set-up for the Mayor who can set up meetings all summer for citizen conversation about a canal. Consultation he can call it like the ones he did NOT have for daycare.

Of course, if the Mayor runs, he needs the downtown voters since they can be galvanized to come out to vote so he weasel-words Summer Fest:

  • "But Mayor Eddie Francis, parks and recreation representatives, and Barry Jamieson, president of World's Finest Shows, all said that the move is likely only for this year -- and only makes sense."

"Likely" is the word which he can use after the election when he says it will never come back downtown.

Think I am kidding, here is what Ms Durocher said to back off what she said before, to be more politically correct:

  • "In any case, Durocher said she hopes Summer Fest will return downtown next year"

No commitment there to come back. Just a "hope."

And why would it? Look at all the money it will make for the WFCU and the parking lot owner next door and the people who can sell booze there:

  • "She said for this year, Summer Fest will offer a lot more than just a midway at the WFCU Centre. She's hoping to bring in a BMX competition to augment lots of stage entertainment, vendors, buskers, and possibly another big event.

    Furthermore, the WFCU Centre, she said, may well choose to open up a licensed terrace during the festival.

    "It's not just going to be a midway in a parking lot," she said. "There's going to be lots to do."

And this silliness about

  • "The organizer of the popular Summer Fest said Friday that after reviewing all the options, the decision is now final: the annual Windsor tradition will move to the WFCU Centre this year to avoid riverfront construction.

    "We spent all morning at parks and rec," Maggie Durocher, president of Windsor Parade Corporation which stages the event, said after meeting with city officials for almost three hours. "We went through a map, we went through every possible venue that is available to the city, looking for alternatives, looking for a way to keep it downtown. But there is nothing that works."

Pure window-dressing to pretend that something was being considered

  • "Maggie Durocher, executive director of the not-for-profit Windsor Parade Corporation, which runs Summer Fest, said the idea to move came from Windsor's parks and recreation department late last year."

They had months to figure out alternatives.

Folks, it was a done deal. The decision was made and nothing was going to change it, not even citizen protests.

Come on people, you forgot. Mr Farhi's land is our new DOWNTOWN! Gord told us that a loooooooooong time ago.

  • "I can see eventually 60 acres being developed ... the equivalent of an entire downtown," said Farhi.

Now you know he was not kidding. I do hope though that the "huge piles of twisted scrap steel next door to the WFCU Centre" will have been cleared up by then.

After all, if we need an event for the downtown to help the businesses prosper there and to have a family event where it should be and which is probably most convenient for the people who want to go there, you know now whom the Mayor favours:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said it's "bittersweet news" that the plant is being demolished. "My first priority would be to have a plant open and people working." But it's better, he agreed, to have redevelopment in the Lauzon/Tecumseh area than a padlocked plant. "You want activity. You want action," said Francis. "The entire Lauzon Road corridor is going to come to life again. This just adds to and complements the activity at the WFCU Centre. Shrewd investors are already picking up properties."

Friday, March 26, 2010

Now It's NAFTA

You just know that more is coming. You can just feel it. What other big surprises does the Bridge Company have?

Why didn't Stephen call me? He should have listened to me. Now he is in a big pickle. NAFTA is in play as part of the dispute between the Bridge Company and Canada. Here is a copy of that document for you to read.

Why oh why? His people must have anticipated this response from the Bridge Company.

Prime Minister Harper will cost the Canadian economy dearly. The anti-NAFTA legislation introduced in Congress is much more serious than Canada seems to understand

Such naïveté

  • "International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan said Tuesday that the groundswell of protectionism among some U.S. lawmakers is directed less at Canada than at Mexico, as well as overseas markets.

    "I've been down there with the prime minister, meeting with President Obama. I met with congressional and Senate leaders and others that are key on trade files there, and what you get told again and again is, ‘Well, none of this is directed at Canada,'" Van Loan told CTV's Power Play.

    "And there are understandable anxieties, concerns about loss of manufacturing to China, some concerns about the relationship with Mexico, (but) Canada always seems to be sort of the favourite son. Nobody looks at us as a bad guy."

Mind you, this is the same Mr. Optimistic guy who said a while ago in his old job:

  • Canada-U.S. border review worries overblown: Minister

    Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan on Monday said he's convinced early worries that the new Obama administration might impose new security measures at the Canada-U.S. border have been overblown.

    At the start of a three-day visit to Washington, Van Loan said he's satisfied that a U.S. review of its northern border — ordered in January by Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security secretary — was simply a matter-of-course exercise by the department's new head to become familiar with her portfolio.

    "What I thought was very positive about that is that she recognized that the northern border is very different (from the U.S.-Mexico border), that we have a very different situation," Van Loan said in an interview. "She does view us in a very different light . . . She very much understands the objective here is achieving security while facilitating trade."

Where does this guy hang out? Didn't he read this:

  • "Representatives Gene Taylor, Walter Jones, Peter DeFazio, Bart Stupak, Michael Arcuri, Joe Baca, Roscoe Bartlett, Bruce Braley, Michael Capuano, Jerry Costello, Bob Filner, Raul Grijalva, Phil Hare, Maurice Hinchey, Steve Kagen, Marcy Kaptur, Dale Kildee, Larry Kissell, Dennis Kucinich, Mike McIntyreEric Massa, Mike Michaud, and Ron Paul, Mark Schauer, Peter Visclosky, Charlie Wilson and Lynn Woolsey introduced legislation to repeal the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    NAFTA and similar free trade agreements have resulted in a 29% decline in U.S. manufacturing employment since 1993. NAFTA discourages investments in U.S. manufacturing facilities and accelerates the erosion of our industrial base...

    Our trade deficit with Canada in 1993 was $11 Billion prior to NAFTA. By 2008 the trade deficit swelled to $78 billion and dropped to $20 Billion with the decline of the economy in 2009."

In case the name "Bart Stupak" is also unknown to the Minister, he was a key Democrat whom President Obama had to convince to help him on health care and who supported the President in the end on abortion protection. Obama owes him!

And we know that the Unions that helped make Obama President are not too happy with NAFTA either.

It cannot get worse for Stephen. And Canada!

Windsor In Dwight's Budget

We Canadians talk a good game about spending money on the border because it is so important to our economy but it is the Americans who have actually done it.

Perhaps there is something there in the Ontario budget on the DRIC road but I could not find it.

I saw this:
  • "The Province is also making ongoing long-term infrastructure investments that will continue to lay the foundation for future economic growth. Expanding transit and highways will improve the movement of people and goods, helping to lower travel times and transportation."

Maybe it is hiding under "other transportation" but the sums set out are so small relatively speaking that it appears that DRIC expenditures may have been cut back.

Note Dwight did say in the Star pre-budget:

  • "Work on the $1.6-billion Windsor-Essex Parkway, the planned new border feeder highway, will also push forward, Duncan said."

But the Budget did not say what work how much would be spent or how quickly.

Interestingly, the Star also reported that:

  • "Meanwhile, the government will save money by delaying a raft of capital projects, many of them in Toronto. Several GTA transit projects will be postponed, as will plans to build a Toronto courthouse as well as a $1.4 billion office complex at Queen's Park."
The Toronto Star pointed out:
  • "Belt-tightening will also derail expansion of public transit projects to save $4 billion over five years, including the TTC’s planned LRT lines for Eglinton and Finch Avenues and expansion of Scarborough rapid transit."

I guess that this came from Dwight saying:

  • "Once our stimulus-related infrastructure projects near completion, we will slow the pace of planning and construction of some of the government’s capital projects."
Like DRIC perhaps? He is not going to spend billions in Windsor if Toronto light rapid transit lines are being cut back!

Here is what I did find on the border:
  • "In addition, as Ontario’s economy shows signs of recovery, and trade and traffic volumes increase, it is critical that Ontario’s borders with the United States, Canada’s most important trading partner, operate as effectively as possible. Federal investment in technology and human resources at borders is critical to ensuring traffic flows as efficiently as possible. The federal government’s recent budget commitment to invest $87 million over two years to improve border efficiency and to expand and promote trusted traveller programs is a positive and welcome step in this regard."

Gee that sounds to me like Dwight does not want a bridge since if there is no bridge, there is no need for a DRIC road. Not a word about a Federal investment in a bridge.

  • "Ontario is advancing its interests in Washington, D.C. by establishing an office located in the Canadian Embassy. This office will promote the linkages and interests of the Ontario/U.S. relationship affected by U.S. policies through ongoing monitoring and focused advocacy. These include such important issues as border, trade, climate change, water, air and related matters."

Hmmm, the "border." Isn't the bridge a Federal matter Dwight?

  • "Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation net income is lower over the forecast period, largely due to the projected impact of a strong Canadian dollar and an unfavourable economic outlook for U.S. border states. These decreases are partially offset by a higher net income outlook for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario."

Poor Sean O'Dell. There go tourist numbers and therefore car numbers down, again. No wonder LCBO income is higher as tourist operators are being driven to drink!

Under The "B" For Bridge

Bingo, now I know how to explain the traffic machinations involving the DRIC bridge.

I have always felt that some people still do not understand why the issue about traffic volumes and the DRIC Bridge is so important.

After all, supposedly the need for the DRIC Bridge arose because traffic was going to double. Even now when traffic is at the 1999 level, or worse, Transport Canada can still say with a straight face:
  • "Butler said the Canadian government is committed to the building a new bridge to provide additional capacity for an anticipated growth in border traffic."

You see, in order to survive financially, even with traffic doubling, the DRIC bridge would have to take a ton of Bridge Company car and truck traffic and that of the Tunnel and the Blue Water Bridge. The DRIC experts said that after all.

Presumably if traffic did not double or, if the Bridge Company, whose tolls would be lower, competed ferociously for traffic, either the DRIC Bridge would go broke or the other crossings would have financial difficulties if the DRIC Bridge was subsidized.

I thought this was an easy concept to grasp. But I think I was wrong. People should not feel too bad if they are having problems with this because even the CEO of Chrysler does not understand it. You would think he would understand numbers and what lack of numbers can do to a bottom line:

  • "DRIC received an endorsement earlier this week from Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat and Chrysler, when he spoke to about 500 industry representatives at a dinner Monday in Michigan hosted in part by the Canadian Automotive Parts and Manufacturing Association.

    "The North American automobile industry and hundreds of thousands of employees in vehicle assembly and parts production depend on the smooth flow of just-in-time deliveries across this critical border gateway," he said. "Chrysler strongly supports the partnership between the governments of Michigan and Ontario, as well as Canada and the United States, as they work toward securing a new gateway at Detroit-Windsor."

Fortunately, the Bingo hall issue made the "traffic issue" simple for people to grasp.

As the Star story points out, just read how the proposed new Bingo Hall and the existing Bingo Halls will be fighting over a reduced number of bingo players--traffic--to understand the concept of how all of the Bingo Halls and the users could face serious problems. Apply it to DRIC and you will be much wiser:

  • "A group of charity bingo advocates will approach council Monday to open a non-profit bingo hall on the city's east end in what they are calling a last-gasp effort to rescue dozens of local charities on the edge of financial failure.

    The group wants to reopen the shuttered Hollywood Bingo hall at 3975 Wyandotte St. E. on the corner of George Avenue. The hall closed in 2006 under consolidation of the local bingo industry.

    Bingos were hit hard in Windsor by the proliferation of casino gambling, loss of U.S. customers through border restrictions and finally no-smoking legislation in 2006.

    There were once about a dozen local halls, but now there are only four owned by a single operator — the Poirier family of Poirier Electric.

    The operator of the remaining bingo halls — and some charities which profit from them — are fighting the move, claiming there is not enough room in the industry to support another bingo hall...

    Long-time charity bingo advocate David (Red) Wilson, who used to be president of the charity operations at the former Hollywood Bingo, is leading the effort to reopen the facility. He believes dozens of local charities will be better served under the non-profit hall.

    "There is no alternative plan for us," he said. "This is our opportunity...

    But the concept has supporters of the existing bingo halls furious and fearful the competition will drain away what little profits are being generated for both the Poiriers and roughly 75 charities those halls support.

    "The first 100 customers pay the overhead," said Phil Haddad, president of Charities of Classic Bingo IV located at Market Square on Walker Road. "The other 20 customers are the profit. We can't lose one person because that represents profit.

    "For us, this is deadly. If you don't make money, the charities have to put in more money if there is a negative pool."

    Should the new hall open, Haddad predicts everyone will lose.

    "Even the ones going to that hall will have a difficult time," he said. "If we were all turning people away and there was a need for another business, I'd say good luck to them. But that's not the case.

    "If you have another bingo hall you add free market competition and we will be fighting each other. You don't want that fight. Windsor's charities will lose as a result

And in another story, it was put more bluntly

  • "Backers of a proposed non-profit bingo hall on the city’s east end say it is a last-gasp attempt to rescue dozens of local charities from the brink of financial failure.

    But opponents say the move would only “cannibalize” the city’s fragile bingo industry, and everyone will lose."

See what I mean: one for-profit existing operator, huge drop in players because of the economy, new non-profit wants to open a competing hall supposedly for the public good, it would divert traffic, both operators might not have the numbers to be profitable. The result "everyone will lose" including users when traffic is "cannibalized."

Under the "O" for Ooooooooooooo do you get it now!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Ambassador Bridge And The US Ambassador

I will never be a good card player. I just do not have a poker face and would give away when I held a good hand or even worse, when I had a bad one.

In the same vein, I would never make it as a diplomat. Subtleties of language is not something I am good at. Making black into white is too difficult a job for me, even for Country.

But isn't that what US Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson did with his interview with the Windsor Star. The man is a real pro!

You would think the champagne corks would be popping in Ottawa after reading the Star headline:
  • "Obama backs DRIC, says ambassador"

In reality, after the Ambassdor's remarks and the Ambassador Bridge lawsuits, people are ducking under their desks to escape from the fall-out!

Why no one wants to come out and just kill the DRIC boondoggle has always mystified me. But that is what the US Ambassador did in a diplomatic way of course. Not directly but oh in such a subtle manner.

In comments very similar to how L Brooks Patterson suppported DRIC, the US Ambassador supports it because it is supposedly the only project around:

  • "With the DRIC project now the only bridge-crossing application still standing for U.S. regulatory approval after the Ambassador Bridge's disqualification, "my government supports the DRIC," said David Jacobson. "We think it's a good thing."

So if you want to build a bridge for capacity purposes, he is right in what he said. However, he went on to say:

  • "We believe there is probably demand for both crossings, Jacobson said"

So he is now supporting the Ambassador Bridge project as well. As you will see, in the US Federal mind, the issue is traffic flow, not capacity. And that is what the Enhancement Project solves.

And why is the Ambassador supportive of DRIC. He was misled. Simple as that:

  • "But certainly there is enough [demand ie traffic volume] for the DRIC"

No Ambassador, there is no demand. We are back to the 1999 levels.

However, forget all of that nicety of language. What the Ambassador effectively said to Canada is do not call us, we will call you someday when we can come up with a few hundred million dollars for a bridge.

  • "In the interview, he declined to answer questions regarding the financing of the U.S. half of the project, saying the money end was out of his pervue."

So much for Canada hoping that the US would put up Michigan's 20% of the billions required as well as its 80% of the DRIC cost if Michigan is unable to do so financially

Capacity issue, what capacity issue:

  • "There is no question Windsor and Detroit need far more crossing infrastructure, he said.

    As ambassador, Jacobson has spent "entire days crossing the border back and forth, to experience the different border crossings. I don't recommend it" as entertainment, he said wryly.

    Jacobson said he paid close attention to border traffic during his attendance at the Olympics in British Columbia. "There were no significant wait times at any point while entering Canada or the United States." And that was despite much larger than normal volumes of people crossing the border."

It's traffic flow, not capacity that is the issue. He is repeating what the Homeland Security Secretary said months before. The "crossing infrastructure" needed is not a new bridge for more capacity but the new Ambassador Bridge 6-lane bridge for adding a lane for the FAST and Nexus vehicles for traffic flow.

And when the Ambassador talked in the Star video about perimeter security, that means moving Customs away from the border as well and in effect turning the Bridge from a border choke-point into a mere road with the odd security check as in Europe. It won't happen quickly as the Secretary made clear because Canada right now is providing hurdles as with shared border management because it kills the need for DRIC.

In the end, when you ignore the headline and read what Jacobson said, the Ambassador likes the Ambassador. After all, his boss, President Obama, still does not care for what happened with NAFTA-gate. And it shows.


Listen to the Ambassador's latest CTV interview at around the 2:30 minute mark

He was not blind-sided this time. His concern re the border is how we strike the appropriate balance between security and efficiency ie how we defend together North America rather than how we deal with the "smaller issues" at the border.

So much for worrying about a new bridge here.

Why MDOT Needs P3 Legislation For The DRIC Bridge

Some Michigan Legislators are going to get very angry after reading this BLOG. Perhaps some people in Washington, DC too. Probably in Ottawa as well but for different reasons. I know I was angry when I was writing it since I felt I had been duped and misled.

I hate to admit it but I must in all honesty.

Public-Private Partnerships. A P3 for the DRIC bridge. What insanity. Except without such legislation the DRIC Bridge is dead in the water.

I get upset when I miss the obvious but it was my own fault. It has been staring me in the face for so long that I just ignored it. I was distracted. And that was part of the tactics. Distract us so they could try to slip something in without us knowing about it. It's an old trick and I fell for it.

But I bet that I am NOT the only one.

Oh I had my moments but my sin was not thinking it through. I just took everything I was fed at face value; I took it for granted and did not look below the surface to try and discover what was really going on.

Think about it. With the economic meltdown so money is impossible to raise, Moroun's competition (assuming the Governments still allow competition) and traffic at 1999 levels with little hope of growing quickly, who in their right mind would gamble billions of pensioners' or shareholders' or investors' money in a P3 DRIC bridge in Windsor/Detroit. The answer is: NO ONE!

Yet MDOT is pressing their Legislature for P3 legislation. Why?
  • "MDOT seeks Windsor-Detroit bridge partners

    Michigan's department of transportation has issued an official request for companies interested in being part of public-private partnership to construct new international bridge, plazas and feeder roads under a $5-billion government plan touted by the Detroit International Crossing (DRIC) team...

    The stage is being set to form a public-private partnership that will move the DRIC project forward, said Michigan's Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle.

    "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."

It cannot merely be because they visited Australia and were convinced by the time-zone changes that P3s made good sense. There had to be more to it than that.

Heck, they could have visited Windsor to learn about P3s. Canadian Government officials could have travelled there to meet with the MDOT people since we are so experienced in them. And look at the Michigan taxpayer money that could have been saved too. I guess they were afraid to cross the Ambassador Bridge since then they would have learned how to operate a border crossing properly and used that experience in Port Huron.

That was the sign though, the tip-off and I completely missed it. What MDOT was doing made no sense. It was ridiculous. A P3 bridge would cost a fortune compared with the traditional way of financing a major project like this since a P3 operator wants a return of 13-20% on these types of projects.

The BC P3 Port Mann bridge project which the Australians, Macquarie, could not finance in the end was a classic case. The poor economy meant that the P3 money could not be raised and the Provincial Government had to take over the project. However, using the same contractors as the P3 company, the Province would save about a billion dollars in costs and would finish the project quicker.

So who needs P3s?

I wish I could say that I figured it all out. But I did not. However, the answer was handed to me on a silver platter. Guess who spilled the beans: MDOT itself!

I know, I know, you cannot believe it either but here it is except it is in relation to the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal project and not DRIC and not dealing with P3s specifically so perhaps MDOT was a bit more forthcoming. And careless:

No wonder MDOT's Bill Shreck could say this after the Bridge Company bought land upon which the DRIC Bridge would be built:

  • "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.

    Bill Shreck, a spokesman for MDOT, said the state can simply expropriate the land it needs if necessary.

    “We’ve gone through it a thousand times in a thousand places. It’s normal operating procedure,” he said."

MDOT must believe that they can get around the Michigan Proposition 4 constitutional amendments by expropriating the property in MDOT's name so they are the owner and "leasing" it via a P3 to a private bridge operator.

MDOT would not be expropriating Moroun's land to give it to another private party. Since MDOT is always the owner, even though it could be operated by a private party for up to 99 years, they feel they are not caught by the law. A P3 upfront payment effectively gives MDOT the purchase money too so it works out so well for them.

Of course, they cannot circumvent the law that easily but why spoil their fun.

Do you see what I mean? I am sooooo embarrassed I missed that. It was so plain. P3 legislation is absolutely required NOT for financing reasons but for eminent domain purposes by MDOT.

However, to redeem myself in your eyes, dear reader, I thought of another reason why MDOT is pushing for P3s: to get around the Dubai ports issue for Canada.

If Canada bought the bridge as PM Harper seems to want to do, then all hell would break loose with President Obama and Congress with a foreign Government, even friendly Canada, owning a key border crossing. But if MDOT owns it, even if it leases it to Canada under a P3 for 99 years with the automatic right to renew for another 99 years, who can get mad? An American State Government is the "owner" isn't it?

Now that is clever. Very clever. In fact, it is too clever for MDOT. They are not that good.

Here is another revelation although I am speculating now. I would bet that it was Canada who came up with the idea of getting around the legislation and the Dubai Ports issue since CANADA has so much experience in P3 deals. Moreover, it is Canada who is at risk if it was seen as controlling the crossing.

So hide the scheme by using Michigan. That is the only reason Canada has any interest in a State that cannot even afford to fix its roads and bridges.

Canada would have considered such an issue before, say in the proposed Tunnel deal with Detroit that Edgar (aka Eddie) was trying to achieve. That deal was a lease deal too with Detroit maintaining Tunnel ownership but with Windsor taking over management for 75 years. If it had been finalized, it would have been the precedent for what would happen with the bridge!

So please forgive me. I promise to try and do better. I will try to ensure that there is no "next time."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Bad Is It For Canada

Remember the smears by Canada against Janet Napolitano, the US Secretary of Homeland Security. What a dumb and foolish strategy. It did nothing more than increase President Obama's distrust of Canada after NAFTA-gate.

Hmmm, the tactic sounds similar to the approach being undertaken against Matty Moroun these days too. I wonder who is quarterbacking that smear campaign.

From Canada's Messenger, Canwest's National Post newspaper. Oh you remember who the Chair of Canwest is don't you and that the Windsor Star is part of that chain:
  • "The border for dummies

    Can someone please tell us how U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano got her job? She appears to be about as knowledgeable about border issues as a late-night radio call-in yahoo."

  • Don Martin: Napolitano makes Bush administration look well informed

    This is borderline insanity.

    The most worrisome American official confronting Canada today is a former Arizona governor who thinks the U.S. northern border, which she’s only flown over and never actually crossed on the ground, is a security threat on par with the drug-running, immigrant-smuggling, terrorist-sneaking border wall with Mexico.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is moving unapologetically forward on beefed-up border staffing and enhanced documentation requirements that will make Canadians and travelling Americans yearn for the security paranoia of the George W. Bush administration.

    Ms. Napolitano’s brief interview with the CBC this week was confirmation we’re dealing with an irrational senior U.S. official who can’t differentiate between a secure border linking the world’s largest trading partners and one that’s a giant sucking sound for jobs going south and what’s been described as an ‘invasion’ of desperate Mexicans illegally sneaking north."

    "Obsessed with the border, Napolitano comes undone

    In a widely linked editorial in the Wednesday issue of the National Post, our ed board wondered how U. S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano got her job?"

Great tactic...if it worked and President Obama got rid of her. Horrific tactic if it did not and President Obama kept her on. As he did!

Just take a look at what can happen to Canada respecting border crossings and tell me that you still believe that a DRIC Bridge has any hope of being built. The threats are real too when security trumps trade.

I have made it easier for you to read too by setting out each topic in yellow type below:

Testimony of Secretary Napolitano before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, "Transportation Security Challenges Post-9/11"

Release Date: December 2, 2009

Getting rid of the Secretary to make Canada happy

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Chair, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee: Anyway, we have enormous respect for you. I respect you very much. Over the last eight years, your department has experienced a lot of growing pains. I know you are the right person to move the agency forward. I'm totally confident of that. I look forward to being your partner -- I think we all do -- in solving top-security challenges...

I totally thank you for being here. It's very important to us as a committee. We respect what you're doing and we want to be your partner.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ): Secretary Napolitano, we are very comforted by the fact that you're in charge there. You come with a great record of public service and you've shown a firm hand since you're here.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Madame Secretary, first of all two compliments.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Madame Secretary, for your briefing and your service to our country.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this hearing, and it's great to see my former colleague, former gubernatorial colleague, Secretary Napolitano, and congratulations, and I echo some of my colleagues' earlier comments about the good job you're doing.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Secretary, welcome. Good to see you here. Look forward to continue working with you

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Secretary Napolitano, thank you for being here and thank you for your hard work and dedication. I think the president chose well when he put you into this position, and your background and history and experience I'm sure has come into use every single day that you've been in this position.

Sen. Klobuchar: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Madame Secretary, for being here. I was just thinking of how full your plate is with H1N1 and the many other issues that you've had -- the Fort Hood shooting investigation and a lot of other ongoing changes with our security. So I thank you for your leadership

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding this hearing. Good to see you here, Secretary Napolitano. We both share the Southwest as home and I think you're doing an excellent job with a very, very difficult department there to manage.

Fingerprinting people entering and leaving the US could kill tourist traffic

"Sen. Isakson: And lastly, a question. On the US-VISIT program, we require biometrics, primarily in the form of fingerprints, which are validated when someone comes into the United States by air at the US-VISIT program. It is my understanding that it is the third phase of the program is getting ready to be announced, which will also require, in terms of airport -- leaving the country, a revalidation of the fingerprint to ensure the person leaving is the person, in fact, that is supposed to be leaving.

But that's not going to be required at our seaports or at our border crossings with Canada and Mexico on the ground. And 80 percent of the people that come to the United States come either by sea or by those -- the Canadian border or the Mexican border, as I'm told. Why would we not check those borders as well, when they leave, to validate that the person leaving is in fact the person that we think they are?

Sec. Napolitano: Senator I'll get back to you, but let me just -- my educated guess is that with respect to the Mexico and Canadian travelers, that the volume, in terms of number of passengers and number of lanes is such that the logistics of employing that for the exiting visitors at those land ports would be prohibitive. And that's really the bulk of what we're talking about."

Goodbye to Canada's ambitious Pacific and Atlantic gateways efforts and the Edgar (aka Eddie) airport transportation hub. And as for perimeter security, keep on dreaming

Sen. Cantwell: A second issue, if I could, is obviously that that U.S.-Canadian border is very important for shipping and we've had by colleagues talk about security and safety of cargo and container traffic. What are we doing to help ensure that all of North America adopts a regime for border security so that we don't have Asian traffic deciding to go to Canada because they can skip the regime that the United States sets up for border security, only to have that cargo travel all the way across the country and maybe enter, you know, someplace else that doesn't have that border security that you are establishing? So how do we get that North America regime established?

Sec. Napolitano: Well, if you're talking about, Senator, having almost like a perimeter policy around the continent, obviously that's somewhat difficult but I mean --

Sen. Cantwell: I'm saying there's billions of dollars of business -- of cargo container going in. We're probably, you know, 20 percent of all traffic coming from China. Now, if just up the road in Vancouver they decide they're not going to -- (inaudible) -- a security regime and it's cheaper and faster to go through Vancouver, all that traffic is going to go there and the U.S. is going to lose that transportation business. So what are we doing to help make sure that those ports adopt the same kind of regimes?

Sec. Napolitano: Well, I think, Senator, we are -- I am meeting regularly with my colleague -- my counterpart on the Canadian side -- as to what is necessary for security at those ports because there are certain things that are constants with respect to be it integrated port security, be it air security, be it land-border security. There are certain things that need to be done and need to be accomplished. But there are differences and there are very real differences between the two countries and I think part of that gets beyond my lane and gets into other departments in terms of negotiations as well."

Instead of blaming the US, is Canada the problem:

[From above] Sec. Napolitano: I am meeting regularly with my colleague -- my counterpart on the Canadian side -- as to what is necessary for security... There are certain things that need to be done and need to be accomplished. But there are differences and there are very real differences between the two countries

Sen. Klobuchar: Exactly. I'm actually going to mostly focus on the Secure Watch issue and some of the terrorist watch lists and the misidentifications on those lists but I wanted to start with one quick question about the Canadian baggage rescreening, and this is something that affects my state. We have a state-of-the-art airport and the requirement that checked luggage at appropriately-cleared Canadian airport facilities be rescreened before the transfer to a U.S.-based connecting flight it has frequently caused delayed connections for our passengers arriving (since?) Canada because their baggage has to be physically transported from the arrival. And I know that TSA has been working with Canadian authorities for well over a year to reach an agreement that could put in place new technologies for Canadian baggage screening that would meet our own United States security standards, and I wondered if you have any sense of when that agreement will be reached.

Sec. Napolitano: I know about the issue, I know about the discussions, and I don't know when they will come to a conclusion. But if, Senator, if you're asking me to see if I can prompt them to hurry up, I'll be happy to do so.

Bye, bye DRIC Bridge. A border is a border and there is a need for increased attention to the Canadian border the Secretary said, remember. The US Ambassador got his border crossing information from CBP, part of Janet's Department

"Sen. Hutchison: Thank you.

I wanted to go back to the border wait times. This is something that I know you are familiar with as well, having been the governor of Arizona. And my question is how can you address the border wait times; because there are trucks backed up for miles, taking hours to get through? Because it does make a difference in commerce, and people being willing to come across. How are you going to address it keeping security in mind as well as efficiency of commerce on our land borders?

Sec. Napolitano: Well, a couple of things. First of all, between Fiscal Year '08 and Fiscal Year '09, we actually saw a reduction in wait times, according to the data I have, a 12.3 percent reduction. And the wait times for commercial trucks, and I think that's what you're focused on, Senator, went from in '08 10.6 minutes to 9.3 minutes on the U.S. side of the border.

Where the wait times can add up is on the Mexican side of the border. And so, working with Mexico, they are now establishing their own customs capacity on that side of the border, which I think will do a great deal to resist. Because as you know, when you go through a land port, you're actually going through two borders. You're going through the Mexican side and the U.S. side. So the U.S. side, the wait times have gone down; and I think will continue to go down with our greater use of technology.

Sen. Hutchison: I really am referring to the Mexican side, because that affects so many of our border retailers. And it's commercial, but it's also people who will shop --

Sec. Napolitano: In those areas, indeed. And so, Mexico is now developing its own customs agency and deploying them to the border, which they really had not had before. As well as, as we build out our ports on the northern side of the border, we are working with them to build their infrastructure to match our ports so that they're paired up appropriately.

Sen. Hutchison: So, we do have an ongoing effort to work, to coordinate better the Mexican side with our side. So that we can get some of those wait times down for commerce.

Sec. Napolitano: Yes.

Sen. Hutchison: Okay. It's a big deal on our border. It must have been in Arizona as well. Because border retailers on our side, get a lot of business from that land traffic. And if you have to wait an hour or two, or more sometimes, it's a problem.

Is there something we need to do to increase further customs and also coordination because there has been a complaint that's ongoing for a long time of coordination of just working hours between DEA, Customs and Border Patrol? So that sometimes, one group is off in a coffee break, while the other group is on, but you have to have all of them. And is there an effort in your department to address that kind of coordination to better utilize our resources?

Sec. Napolitano: Senator that coordination should already be occurring, under the direction of who ever is the manager of the port. If you have a specific instance or a specific port where you are getting reports that that is not happening, I hope you would let me know about it; and we will follow-up.

Edgar's airport repair facility plan may be in jeopardy too now

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I appreciate you holding the hearing open until I had a chance to get here. I was over in Armed Services as we were dealing with the president's speech on Afghanistan last night and it took awhile for me to get my questioning done there.

I wanted to briefly bring up with you, Secretary Napolitano, something that I have been working on for a number of years now and that is foreign repair stations as it relates to airline maintenance.

I know this is not necessarily in your lane, but in the long run, it needs to be on your radar -- pardon the pun --

Sec. Napolitano: Mm-hmm.

Sen. McCaskill: Because we have increasingly in this country turned to foreign repair stations for not just kicking the tires, but significant maintenance and repair work for our domestic airline industry.

FAA -- it is from the many different hearings in this room we have figured out we're not really sure we certify certain repair stations, that we allow non-certified repair stations to do the work. We're not really sure why we don't have the same kind of standards at foreign repair stations in terms of background checks, in terms of perimeter security.

And I bring it up to you, because I think this is something that we could benefit from you -- your people taking a look at this. We have foreign repair stations doing significant work on some of our airlines in countries that were on the State Department's terrorist watch list.

So meanwhile, I -- with a smile on my face -- get wanded every time I get on an airplane, because I have one artificial knee and they go through my mom's stuff, because she has two artificial knees. We have repair work -- significant repair work being done in places around the globe where I don't think the American people would be comfortable with the level of security and oversight that we're providing them.

And I wanted to bring it up to you, because it's something that I'd worked on and I know we haven't had a chance to visit about it before, but would like your reaction to that and whether or not you think that some of your obligation, as it relates to homeland security, could reach out to at least do an assessment, in your view, whether or not this is something we should be worried about.

Sec. Napolitano: Well, thank you, Senator. And the foreign repair issue really reveals something, which I say often, which is that homeland security does not begin at the borders of the United States. You really have to think of it in a global context and then bring it home, so to speak.

On November the 18th of this year -- so just a few weeks ago -- we issued an actual notice of proposed rulemaking on foreign repair stations. And it builds on the certification requirements that the FAA uses. But it would require such things as making -- requiring that they be open to audits by the Department of Homeland Security on a random and surprise basis. It requires certain types of recordkeeping. It requires certain types of -- other types of checks in the stations themselves.

The comment period on the notice, I think, closes -- I want to say the third week of January. So it is something that has occupied our attention and we're moving forward in that fashion.

Sen. McCaskill: That is terrific.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Amazon And The Ambassador Bridge

The Prime Minister's secret mandate letter was really Canada's white flag of surrender. We ought to understand that now.

The brilliant, decade-long bureaucratic Plan to take over the Ambassador Bridge failed miserably, aided and abetted by an economic disaster that even the mandarins never saw coming.

They completely misread Moroun and his son as the Globe and Mail 2 1/2 page spread demonstrated. The reason is obvious---they are bureaucrats used to getting their way using limitless taxpayer money not business people who have to invest and risk their own money and who have to scrap to succeed.

The border war IS about to end. And not just because the US Federal Government has no interest in financing the DRIC project as the US Ambassador in polite diplomatese stated recently in his Ottawa speech.

Now we know the reason for the secret Harper mandate letter to buy the Ambassador Bridge NOW and to forget about DRIC. Read on and see how history is repeating itself.

Who is the smartest Legislator in Canada by far when looking at the border file: Liberal Senator Dennis Dawson.

In the Senate hearings in November, 2006, he stated the following:
  • "Senator Dawson: At the beginning, when this bill [Bill C-3] came in we were led to believe, and I am not saying there was any bad faith, it was going to be a bill that would pass easily as opposed to the division on a bill that had been proposed in the past, and it went through the House of Commons without practically any major discussion.

    All of a sudden we understand that there is an adverse effect for one of the strong participants in the bill. I was told last week by someone from the Department of Transport that Bill C-11 is now in the House committee and we should be expecting it here so we should be going on as fast as possible with Bill C-3. I want to be sure that as we process this bill through this committee that we understand it is not the same as Bill C-44, it is not the same as Bill C-26 and it does seem to have an adverse effect on a player that not been identified and, from what we have been told, has not been listened to reasonably by the department and not listened to at all by the minister. Therefore I want to be sure we understand that I hope we do not think we will be fast tracking this.

    Above and beyond the interests of the Ambassador Bridge, this government and governments will be going forward with PPPs in the future. We are hoping that more public-private partnerships will exist to share the responsibilities between the public and the private enterprise, whether it is Highway 50 or Highway 30 in Quebec or other bridges to be built. If we are not going to have respect for private projects that exist and that have been going well for 60 or 70 years, how can we expect private investors to risk, whether it is the "competing" project or the "existing" projects?

    ...However, I am now preoccupied that future projects and existing projects can be impeded by the fact that this legislation is not probably satisfactory at this time. I just want to be on the record on that, Madam Chairman."

He was prescient! He understood before others that Canada needed foreign investors to come here if projects were going to be developed and jobs created.

In Canada's latest budget, what did we see? Comments like:

  • "to attract foreign venture capital"

  • "Increasing Competition and Foreign Investment in the Telecommunications Sector

    The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians can benefit from increased competition and investment in the telecommunications sector, which will lead to greater innovation and lower prices for consumers. Increasing foreign investment is an important way of strengthening market competition and attracting new capital and innovative
    ideas from abroad."

  • "Consistent with the recommendations of the Competition Policy Review Panel, the Government is acting in Budget 2010 to remove the existing restrictions on foreign ownership of Canadian satellites. This will allow firms to access foreign capital and know-how and to invest in new and advanced technologies. The removal of restrictions will also allow Canadian firms to develop strategic global relationships that will enable them to participate fully in foreign markets."

  • "Improve the ability of Canadian businesses, including innovative high-growth companies that contribute to job creation and economic growth, to attract foreign venture capital by narrowing the definition of taxable Canadian property, thereby eliminating the need for tax reporting under section 116 of the ITA for many investments. The Canadian Venture Capital Association has indicated, in making representations for changes of this nature, that “...a broader exemption...would make Canada a more attractive destination for equity investments by non-residents and, in particular, venture capital and private equity funds.”

  • "Government would, in response to submissions by the Panel and others, review its outstanding proposals with respect to tax issues associated with foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts before proceeding with measures in this area"

  • "In addition, the Accounting Standards Board will require Canadian public companies to adopt the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as of 2011, which could help these companies better access international capital markets and reduce their cost of capital."

As was reported in the media:

  • "Foreign investment anchors economic agenda

    OTTAWA—The Conservatives are throwing open the doors to foreign investment in telecommunications and other vital industry sectors as part of a corporate-friendly agenda intended to reshape Canada’s economy in the years ahead...

    The government’s proposed initiative to open up more segments of Canada's economy to foreign investment, including satellite and telecommunications sectors, was described as a recipe for hollowing out the economy.

    “The long-term plans of the Conservative, of course is to turn all these key industries into branch plants of the United States,” NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) commented.

    Angus said Canadians have to look no further than the takeover of Stelco by giant U.S. Steel, which in no time forced a lockout and threatens to drive a stake into the once-proud Canadian steel producer, and the takeover of Inco in Sudbury by Brazil’s mining giant Vale. More than 3,000 employees at Vale's mill, smelter, refinery and six nickel mines in the Sudbury area have been on strike for seven months.

    “We’ve got Vale Inco who have come and decided that Canadian workers are now going to work like Brazilian workers in the Third World. This government has seen failed takeover after failed takeover,” Angus said.

    Historically Canada’s telecom sector has been protected from foreign acquisition for national security and other reasons but the government insists the rules are already in place that would protect Canada’s industry from being victimized by foreign investment.

    Industry Ministry Tony Clement said investment from outside Canada is necessary if the country is to prosper and create jobs.

    “This whole mythology that is being created by members of opposition or critics that there is a hollowing out the economy is not accurate,” he said.

    Clement said investment rules for the telecom sector must be relaxed if the industry is to continue to grow and create new jobs, but critics fear this will allow foreign investors to buy up newspapers and televisions and radio stations, which have always be protected.

    The government also said it would ease foreign investment rules governing Canada’s uranium industry."

So explain to me, dear reader, how can the Canadian Government at one time try to destroy an American's business by trying to force Moroun to sell out cheaply through the use of DRIC and at the same time, try to attract foreign invetment to help bring jobs?

You cannot.

No wonder the secret madate was issued over Xmas, before the Budget was introduced that would open up our economy to foreigners. The Government had to act quickly since it no longer had the time to fool around with DRIC. Buy the bridge BEFORE Canada would be forced to work with Moroun is the obvious message that I read into the situation.

Moreover, the anti-NAFTA legislation introduced in Congress scares the hell out of Canada. NAFTA-gate is still remembered by the US President and if he is going to be re-elected, he needs to do something in his final few years to get the Unions, who helped get him elected in the first place, onside! Heck, he may be forced to do something NOW to ensure that he has a majority in Congress after the next Congressional elections.

This is absolutely reminiscent of the FIRA lawsuits and the settlement reached BEFORE the new Free Trade Agreement was entered into with the US.

Do you really believe that there would have been a Canada/US Free Trade Agreement if there was a FIRA lawsuit ongoing with an American Company or if an American Company was being forced out of business.

No, the decision was obviously made, looking back, to retreat, settle with Moroun, do the deal with the US and then go after Moroun subsequently.

Canada would be hard-pressed to attract foreign investment, especially American, with the dispute against the Ambassador Bridge Company ongoing a second time. Canada is in a very awkward position so the decision was made to buy.

And if you do not think that another American Company has not already figured out that Canada is in a tough position especially in relation to cultural matters...

  • "The battle over foreign ownership is about to take a literary turn.

    Internet bookseller Inc. is poised to open a “fulfilment centre” in Canada – believed to be a means by which the Web firm can distribute products bought on its site without resorting to a third-party shipping service.

    But that decision – because it entails Amazon having a physical, rather than virtual presence in Canada – means the company is subject to myriad reviews relating not only to foreign ownership, but also to Canadian cultural industries, such as bookselling."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper knows I am right and have been for a very long time. He knows as well as I do that the Ambassador Bridge matter better be resolved quickly or can you spell:


CUPE's Diabolical Scheme

Whew, if true then at least I have a bit more respect for certain Ontario and national Union leaders. However, I do not share that respect with local ones who seem so out of the loop.

I cannot confirm that what you are about to read is 100% true. Or even 1%. I must admit that it made good sense when I first heard about it.

All that I can do now is lay out the facts and let you draw your own conclusions, dear reader.

Take a look at this press release and see what I mean. Note that Sid Ryan is no longer with CUPE but the head of the Ontario Federation of Labour. Clearly though what happened in Windsor and Toronto has impacted him and other Union leaders:
  • "Unified Labour Movement to Dwight Duncan: Ontario Needs a Jobs Budget

    (TORONTO) -- In a meeting today between Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and the leaders of Ontario’s fifteen largest private and public sector unions, representing over one million workers, the Ontario labour movement delivered a clear and unified message on behalf of Ontario’s working families: Ontario needs a “jobs budget”.

    The pre-budget consultation meeting, which was spearheaded by Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan, was an important opportunity for leaders of both private and public sector unions to articulate their key priorities for the upcoming provincial budget:

    1) support for private sector labour markets by facilitating the creation of good, green jobs;
    2) maintenance of the important public sector jobs and services which have provided a bulwark against the recession...
    5) providing support for precariously employed workers in their struggle to secure good jobs.

    Ryan characterized the meeting as a very productive consultation which provided both labour and government the opportunity for a frank exchange of ideas and concerns around the upcoming budget.

    “We are confident that Minister Duncan heard our call for a jobs budget loud and clear. Both public sector and private sector unions were absolutely clear that if jobs created in the private sector are accompanied by public sector job cuts, the net gain for working Ontarians is zero. We will not be pitted against one another.” says Ryan."

Outsourcing in other words won't cut it with Labour!

However, Union leaders are not dumb. They understand that their Government members are under attack. We have seen it in Toronto as well as in Ottawa:

  • "Economy 'fragile,' government must live within means, Day says after union talks

    Treasury Board President Stockwell Day says the federal government has to "live within its means," and the public service has to be part of the plan to eliminate the deficit.

    Speaking after pre-budget meetings with two of the federal government's largest unions, Day would not rule out pension or wage cuts - moves the unions have lobbied hard to prevent.

    But he promised to work with labour to "maintain the integrity" of public-service pension plans."

They know that their jobs, wages and salaries are being targetted by failed politicians just as they were in the private marketplace by failed business leaders.

Notwithstanding all of the so-call praise heaped on the CAW for their realism, the CAW had to be practical in a different way when their employers were facing bankruptcy.

The Union leaders know that the situations involving different parts of the labour movement have to be treated differently while the sycophants try to crush Government workers by using private union examples.

Clearly, fighting the Government for as long as possible was one of the methods used by CUPE in their fight to protect union members and their jobs. To deliver a message to the politicians. Unfortunately, Windsor workers had to bear the brunt of it with their 101 day strike. But you know "Solidarity forever" as long as it impacts Windsor workers only.

And Windsor workers did get a huge wage increase forever although few in Windsor know that thanks to the Messenger's non-reporting. Moreover, CUPE Toronto was able to get comparable gains in Toronto thanks to our near-riot due to the foolishness of Edgar (aka Eddie).

It was a pretty tough message the Labour Movement delivered.

Clearly though, CUPE and the OFL leadership understood that there might be job cuts and Windsor is again leading the way. While Edgar believes that he is the pacesetter for Governments across the Province with outsourcing, He is nothing more than the tool whom the OFL will use to beat the Governments.

Follow along.

Outsourcing will prove to be a failure. All it will achieve is making people opposed to the ruling party or individual Council members come out to vote AGAINST them in the next election and in the end demonstrating to the public that little was achieved after so much public hardship.

How can I say this? How can the Unions possibly stop outsourcing? It is impossible you may think.

Hardly. The tactic that will be adopted is the following:


What is the point of outsourcing if the end result accomplishes nothing. If wages are just about as high and if members of the public can be hurt by work stoppages, what will have been gained?

The answer is nothing.

Think I am fooling. Here is a prime example of what I mean and you will see exactly what will happen here in Windsor if a variety of jobs will be outsourced. From the CUPE Canada website:
  • "Strike looms at Ottawa garbage collection
    Mar 18, 2010

    OTTAWA, Ont. – BFI Canada Inc. workers, members of Local 1338-02 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are ready to go on strike if the company doesn’t show more openness to their contract demands. The workers are responsible for recycling and waste collection in the west end of Ottawa.

    The forty workers, who collect residential and commercial garbage and recycling for approximately 25 per cent of Ottawa, have voted over 90 per cent in favour of strike action if a fair collective agreement is not reached with the employer. The strike vote took place Wednesday evening.

    The union has been frustrated with the employer’s refusal to bargain fairly. The bargaining has stumbled on wages, hours of work and overtime, and has come to a complete halt over benefits such as healthcare insurance, long term disability, etc.

    Garbage collection is as one of the most hazardous jobs. BFI workers handle an average of 15 tons of garbage per day, roughly 600-900 bags per man every day. Injury rates average 35 per cent every year. The union is seeking the same kind of agreement that other workers in this industry have in Ottawa.

    “Our members are determined to be treated fairly and are united. Our goal is to get a fair contract similar to what other workers in the industry have already received,” said Daniel Sauvé, president of CUPE 1338-02."

CUPE organized garbage workers and now are demanding comparable wages and benefits. So what was the purpose of bringing in a private party supposedly to save all of that money for taxpayers when the unionized workers can still go out on strike to get City-type wages.

Edgar and Ms. Nazzani should think about this for their airport schemes too:

  • "Hamilton Airport workers seek fair contract to avoid holiday travel disruptions

    As the heavy holiday air travel period looms at the John C. Munro International Airport, 35 Hamilton airport workers, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), are trying to secure a fair deal from airport management before the Christmas season to avoid holiday travel disruptions for passengers and cargo flying in and out of the Hamilton airport hub.

    “Our members are dedicated workers who provide emergency, safety, security and maintenance services at the airport,” said Derron Vernon, president of CUPE 5167. “The last thing we want is to disrupt travellers’ holiday plans during the Christmas season – all we want is a fair deal so we can continue to provide seamless service for Hamilton airport passengers...

    Outstanding issues include wages and benefits, scheduling improvements, regular and increased staff training and other issues. The workers’ last contract expired on October 1, 2008.

    “We know how important the holiday travel season is for everyone and that’s why we are hoping that management also recognizes this fact, and are willing to hammer out a deal prior to Christmas,” said Vernon. “After all, the holidays are about spending time with friends and families and passengers should not be worrying about whether they will be able to get home on time.”

Would this be a warning to those companies who decide to bid on Windsor work? Come into Windsor and your entire workforce everywhere will become CUPE members.

And a warning to Edgar and the hardliners but more importantly to other politicians? Outsource and you will have even worse labour relations than before because now a private party has its interests to protect and not those of you or taxpayers. You lose control of labour relations and get all the blame if there is a work stoppage and none of the glory.

The OFL message being delivered to Government is for politicians to think again. It's a shame that Windsor workers have to suffer the consequences and not someone else, again, but you know the reasons for that don't you.

Not a bad strategy, even if only 1% of it is true!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Did You Know This

Some information that you might not have known:


We should be P3ing errrr outsourcing our parking collections shoudn't we if we are outsourcing parking enforcement. Or will that be coming as the first step in P3ing a number of our assets like Enwin and WUC and perhaps the Tunnel as well?

Considering that the Tunnel operator, Alinda, is in these businesses, it would NOT surprise me at all. Why else do you think we really have such a good S&P rating:
  • "Pittsburgh sees investors lining up for chance to lease public parking

    Eleven teams of investors and parking operators want a shot at leasing Pittsburgh's public garages, meters and lots, suggesting a vigorous competition for the potential nine-figure deal, according to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration.

    The teams include national and international companies, some with experience handling parking systems much larger than the 18,000 total spaces that the Pittsburgh Parking Authority is offering. Some have local ties...

    The healthy number of firms submitting qualifications by a late-Friday deadline suggests "that there's a convergence between the needs of the city, the needs of the private sector, and the benefits sought by the [parking consumers]...

    Now the authority and its advisers will sort through firms' qualifications and invite some or all to submit bids in mid-June for a lease that is expected to control rate increases, technological upgrades, and repair and reconstruction of parking facilities for decades...

    Alinda Capital Partners, which bills itself as the largest American manager of pension investments in infrastructure, also was expected to join the competition."

What it really means is higher parking rates in the long run since the investors have to make a nice return don't they. But in the long run, the decision-makers who get the cash and can blow it [in Pittsburgh's case at least it is to pay down pension liabilities] are not around any more and those in power will blame it on the past [IBG...YBG]


Wait a minute Gord, What are you talking about in your last column:

  • "The Mikhails aren't buying it. Joe said he has nothing against unions. His late father earned a good living working for Chrysler Canada and his widowed mother is blessed to have the generous benefits negotiated by the CAW.

    "But there's a time and a place," said Joe and the bizarre "Catch 22" predicament he and his brother are in reflects badly on the unions and the investment climate in Ontario and especially in Windsor.

    According to Joe, the potential investors they lure to Windsor love almost everything about the city, from the cost of living to the quality of life, but most end up going elsewhere because of one devastating factor, this city's militant union reputation. And now that costly rep is coming home to roost, employees or no employees."

You just cannot use the Mikhails every time you want to set up something for Edgar (aka Eddie). We all remember your story about Edgar and Sutherland until Sandra's key role finally came out.

But what happened to Gord telling us that Edgar created a new image for Windsor:

  • "The CUPE strike, which shattered this city's longstanding reputation as a militant union stronghold, was labour's low point in 2009."
  • "In going to war against the taxpayers of Windsor at the worst possible time, Ryan handed this city a gift, an unprecedented opportunity to vaporize its reputation as Canada's most militant union city, a city where table-pounding labour bosses have historically ruled like demi-gods.

    Week by week, garbage bag by garbage bag, defiant and resourceful Windsorites are punching holes in that decades-old image of Windsor as a blue-collar community in which big labour calls the shots and management either grovels or flees.

    It has long been a given in corporate board rooms that Windsor is hostile territory best avoided in favour of places like Cambridge and Alliston where an anachronistic union mentality hasn't been entrenched, along with a deep sense of entitlement, for generations.

    But that's changing fast, courtesy of CUPE's strategic miscalculation that it could bank on Windsor's rapid capitulation."

Silly me, that is the Sheriff telling us that Edgar blew it and what his re-election campaign will be.

Edgar was unable to build on the so-called CUPE win, did NOT capitalize on the opportunity presented and could not draw new investment here. Blame it on the Union will have to be Edgar's re-election battle-cry.


Remember Doug Schmidt Blogging this a few days ago:

  • "Don't Lose Windsor's BlackBerry

    Is this how Windsor lost BlackBerry?

    I got a lucky break the other day while working on a story on a council advisory panel’s criticism of the level of city hall support (or lack thereof) shown small business...

    I wanted to find out how new small business operators felt about their city hall treatment when they set about getting started, so I phoned the DWBIA for some references of recently opened shops...

    He described the nearly three hours of being pointed from one counter to another and being told his idea for a new business venture was too new, too off the local radar, for anyone at City Hall Square to be able to help him.

    I hope this isn’t what might have happened when the BlackBerry inventors (one of them a Windsorite) were roaming around southwestern Ontario a few years back looking for local support (before they set up their wildly successful venture in Waterloo, which is now raking in huge economic benefits). I cringe to think that desperately needed investment and jobs are being lost because somebody thinks they already have enough on their plate and so they can ignore this stranger with his strange new idea."

To be fair, Edgar cannot be blamed for not attracting Blackberry here in the first place but look who had the chance a few years ago to attract the Blackberry people here for new opportunities. That's right, our Entrepreneur at his 2007 speech:

  • "April 13, 2007

    Two-day conference at Case Western Reserve University will explore entrepreneurship in Canada and U.S...

    the Canada-United States Law Institute (CUSLI) at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law has assembled a number of distinguished experts to address the critical importance of entrepreneurship to economic growth.

    "Comparative Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship in Canada and the United States" will be held Friday and Saturday, April 13-14, beginning at 9 a.m. both days, in the law school's Moot Courtroom (A59) and other ground floor classrooms, 11075 East Boulevard.

    Keynote addresses will be given by William Davies of Research in Motion, Ltd., the inventors of the Blackberry; the Hon. Eddie Francis, mayor of Windsor, Ontario and former owner of Royal Pita-Baking Company"


Why take it out on CUPE workers. This report is unbelievable:

Is no one in charge?

Here is something that demonstrates the lack of business management skills at the City. Please do not tell me that Council is running a tight ship:

The Commish and Scholarly Conflicts

Oh boy, another possible mind bending question for the Integrity Commissioner to opine upon if someone decides to file a complaint. If I was the Commish, I know that this would be another toughie to decide.

Remember this video clip I posted before.

It is of Edgar (aka Eddie) telling us that he has no pecuniary interest in the daycare matter even though his daughter goes to private daycare

However, Edgar did declare a pecuniary interest out of an abundance of caution when his University of Windsor Alumni Association appeared in front of Council re the Food and Wine Festival.

A bunch of people it seemed thought Edgar's action was a big joke as you can hear but they do not know the rules the way that Edgar does since he IS a lawyer. And he is never wrong.

Being an alumnus is automatic it seems and lifelong:
  • "The very first day you set foot on the UWindsor campus, you received a lifetime membership in the Alumni Association, a tight-knit community of classmates, faculty and staff that's here to support you throughout your career. This network can help you find a new job, adjust to a new city and recruit the best and brightest employees."

He made the point that they would receive proceeds from the event so in that case, well you saw how quickly Edgar took off.

Wouldn't his daughter possibly receive "proceeds" if the Municipal daycare closed down, but in this case he stayed.

It is those two actions of the Mayor that have me wondering. In one scholastic case there was no "interest" and in another he declared one.

For some help, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act states the following way:

  • “child” means a child born within or outside marriage and includes an adopted child and a person whom a parent has demonstrated a settled intention to treat as a child of his or her family;

    3. For the purposes of this Act, the pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, of a parent or the spouse or any child of the member shall, if known to the member, be deemed to be also the pecuniary interest of the member.

    5. (1) Where a member, either on his or her own behalf or while acting for, by, with or through another, has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any matter and is present at a meeting of the council or local board at which the matter is the subject of consideration, the member,

    (a) shall, prior to any consideration of the matter at the meeting, disclose the interest and the general nature thereof;

    (b) shall not take part in the discussion of, or vote on any question in respect of the matter; and

    (c) shall not attempt in any way whether before, during or after the meeting to influence the voting on any such question.

Clearly, the Mayor has no direct pecuniary interest in the Alumni Association matter so his interest must be indirect.

Clearly Edgar's daughter has no direct pecuniary interest in the daycare matter but does she have an indirect one ie her daycare would remain open if they got new students or fees might be kept down if there were new students. If she does, then Edgar is "deemed" to have her interest under Section 3 and he may have a problem under Section 5.

That is the question....Was the Mayor wrong? Is there an indirect pecuniary interest that can be attributed to the Mayor in the daycare issue based on his alumni action?

Here is what complicates it even more.

Remember when the daycare issue started, even before it got to Council, operators said:

  • "Daycare operators worried

    Owners of daycares and Montessori schools are concerned that the province's new full-day kindergarten option will cause a significant drop in business at private-sector child care centres.

    "Everyone's scared," said Saskia Iannicello, executive director of Come and Play Day Nursery. "We're hearing that in two years, none of us are going to have jobs and they'll take our business."

    Full-day kindergarten will become available in 14 Catholic school classrooms and 26 public school classrooms in September 2010.

    The following year, the program will add seven Catholic school classrooms and 11 public school classrooms. Schools will also offer before- and after-school care from as early as 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    That could be bad news for people like Julie Roy, who owns three Montessori schools in the area.

    "People are just seeing free daycare," she said, of parents who may opt to save on fees at her schools by enrolling children in kindergarten.

    "Competing with free is impossible."

    Roy's schools offer educational and care programs for infants and children between the ages of six months and six years.

    She explained that it's the older children who make her business viable, since the student-to-teacher ratio is higher.

    "That's the meat of your program. A lot of times, we're in the red for the infant care."

    Children aged 21/2 to six years have one teacher for every eight students, while toddlers and infants have a ratio of one-to-five and one-to-three respectively.

    Roy fears if there's a mass exodus of older children from her schools to kindergarten, her business simply won't be viable.

    "There will be a definite employment impact if we lose 30 per cent of our kids," she said. Her three Montessori schools employ 200 people in Windsor."

However, the City getting out of the business of daycare could be considered a salvation for the private operators since they would get proceeds from monies paid by new students. Here are a couple of examples from the Council Minutes about what private daycare could do

The issue is not academic either since Councillor Halberstadt tells us the following to compound the problem:

  • "McNamara and Burton would be wise to focus on the benefits of the closure to the many non-profit and private daycares paying taxes in Tecumseh. Municipal centres like the one on Lesperance are exempt from property taxes.

    Jacquie Bourgeois is executive director of A Smart Start Daycare and her landlord at 11958 Tecumseh Road is paying the town $7,000 in taxes a year for the 3,500 square feet space.

    “Children are going to be displaced (by the closures) and I hope to get some here to keep us afloat,” says Bourgeois. “We are small and quaint so it won’t be such a huge transition for them...

    With the September closures, the provincial share of $4.7 million of the region’s child care funding will be re-directed to the private and non-profit centres to provide additional spaces and enhance the salaries of ECEs.

    It is anticipated that the system will have no difficulty absorbing the 425 children impacted by the closure of the municipal centres.”

The poor Commish! Having to decide this. Imagine the headache.