Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mayoral Showdown: Edgar vs. Junior

Wouldn’t that be a hoot! In the end, Ken Lewenza Jr. would win by a land-slide!

It would undoubtedly be, at the beginning at least, the most polarizing campaign ever seen in Windsor. It certainly would pit two completely different points of view against each other. There would be clear-cut differences in solutions, content and style.

I can just imagine the Star columnists and Editorialists licking their chops as they would dream up different ways to vilify Junior. Actually, that would be the best thing that ever happened to him. The Star's declining reputation is such that being demonized by them is a big Plus. As time went on however, I would expect that people would get a better appreciation of Junior and his abilities and that the stereotypical picture of him would soon disappear.

I would be willing to make a bet as well that we would never see such a campaign. My own view is that if Lewenza announced that he was going to run for Mayor, Edgar would not do so. He could not face months of blame and criticism from someone who knows the facts about the way that Edgar has run this City into the ground and the mistakes that he has made. And Junior would NOT be afraid to use them in a campaign.

Oh it would be ugly and Edgar could not stand the heat. And neither could the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget who did not have the guts to debate Junior after the CUPE strike if he ever thought about running if Edgar did not.

I was thinking about all this when I read the Star story about the meeting involving the Windsor Utility Commission rate increase and this comment in particular:
  • “Lewenza and Wladarski blamed the current problems -- and a five-year water "infrastructure deficit" of $148.8 million -- on years of political reluctance to raise fees."

I thought about the difference in styles of the two men on two major issues: the WUC rate increase and the DRIC $78 million sellout.

In the DRIC sell out, Edgar, the Voice of Council, arranged for the resolution behind closed doors during secret breakfast meetings with Sandra and Dwight confirmed by an in camera vote of Council. With the rate increase, Junior is prepared to take his chances by holding meetings across the City out in public to explain what needs to be done and to hear what the population would say, whether good or bad.

To the thousands of people who sent in postcards to support the Greenlink campaign of the Mayor and who attended all of the meetings so that he could get a few extra dollars at the expense of their and their childrens's health supposedly, what Edgar did has to be a slap in the face.

Compare that with what Junior did such that even one of his strongest opponents in the past could say after the meeting:

  • “We've got to have a rate increase, there's no way around it -- we've neglected this too long," said city hall watchdog Al Nelman.”

Do you really believe that Edgar had the nerve to face the public on his Greenlink settlement? He would have been shouted down. No wonder we have hardly seen a story about it since it happened. Even the Star could not justify the sell-out and has to be embarrassed about its role!

Yet Junior was prepared to go to the public and sell his point of view, as he did successfully, even though he was asking people to pay more money"

  • "The Windsor Utilities Commission heard what it wanted Thursday night, when a small group of city residents gave support to new water rate hikes during the first in a series of ward meetings on the subject...

    WUC's selling job was so good that west ender Louise Jamieson was among the converts...

    "What you're paying for is access to the system," said Lewenza.

    He said it costs $50 million to run WUC and maintain Windsor's water system, whether consumers conserve or not.

    "I understand I have to pull my weight, but it doesn't seem to pay to be thrifty," said Jamieson."

Remember when Edgar first ran for Mayor, he made the following comment about him being a politician:

  • "Over the next four months I will engage the voters of Windsor in a discussion about our future, the future of Windsor. I will do this not as a politician but as a citizen who wants to serve you…

    I said to you earlier that I am not a politician and I am not running for office to be Mayor for life…. Should I be fortunate to be elected to lead our City, and should I ask the citizens for a second term …….My term is not to exceed two."

Yea, right, especially in relation to possibly running for a third term. Supposedly, we are going to find out what he’s going to do sometime in May. When I see that, I will believe it.

Look at what he said in the past with respect to WUC rate increases, before an election:

  • "The Windsor Utilities Commission will have to justify any water rate increase this fall, Mayor Eddie Francis said Wednesday.

    "I pay for water and I want to know what we pay these rates for," Francis said at a meeting of the commission.

    "(The rates) have to be justified. We aren't going to stand by when they say 'We need this.' We are going to ask why."

    Francis said in an interview he believes water rates are too high...

    When the study is completed, Francis said he hopes it will show water rates can be decreased."

Too high, hopes that they can be decreased! Boy, was he wrong! What a businessman. How does one explain this. After the election, we were hit with an 86% rate increase which the Mayor took the lead in justifying.

Look at what he has said now with respect to possible rate increases, naturally before the election. In passing, he was not at the WUC commission meeting where this matter was debated and decided. He chickened out:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis, also a WUC board member, missed Thursday’s meeting because he was overseas, but agreed Friday the water company may have to look at a more gradual increase.

    The mayor took the lead in pushing the 86 per cent hike in 2007.

    “Right now this community cannot handle a 10 per cent increase,” he said. “You need a more realistic approach in what’s required. You are not going to resolve the infrastructure deficit in one or two years. Maybe there needs to be a 10- to 15-year plan and be balanced in people’s ability to handle this."

Edgar was front and centre supporting the 86% increase but where is he now defending the latest WUC increase before the next election? Invisible!

Compare that approach with that of Councillor Lewenza who was effectively putting his career on the line by going out to meet with the public. Naturally, the Star wants to vilify him since coincidentally there is a story about the big rate increase at Enwin where the Mayor is on the Board. The numbers were given to Enwin last Thursday and it took this long to crunch them and to have the Star report them!

What did Edgar have to say about this increase? Invisible in the story. Instead, all we received was excuses from the Company that pays Members of Council huge amounts so that their Council salaries are increased dramatically.

Oh I would love to see a Mayoral campaign between Edgar and Junior but that would never happen. Obviously, the first issues that would be discussed would be the 101 Day CUPE strike and outsourcing. Edgar could never dare debate that matter with Junior because the Star protection of Edgar’s huge sellout of the citizens as a hardliner would be demonstrated. His reputation would be shot forcing him to pull a “David Miller.”

Edgar could never stand up to the questions about why garbage should be outsourced or daycares closed without consultation whatsoever. Even on parking enforcement, the discussion was held behind closed doors until Edgar had to say:

  • "The matter was subject to much debate behind closed doors Monday night, but Francis said council concluded, "out of an abundance of caution," to have the matter dealt with in public at next week's regular council session."

It would have been fun for me at least to watch this campaign go forward but alas it will never happen. Pity for us.

Border Traffic Numbers In A Perspective

Whew, all that good news about the border traffic numbers increasing massively over the last few months must feel like good news to Transport Canada's Sean O'Dell and the DRIC supporters who will be trooping over to the Detroit Chamber offices for their big pro-DRIC rally on Friday.

I hope Sarah Hubbard keeps that list I asked of her of attendees. I want to see how correct I am that the usual suspects will be there.

Then the Ambassador Bridge Company goes and spoils it all by issuing a Press Release that tells us what the numbers really mean:

  • Ambassador Bridge traffic up, delays down

    WARREN, Mich. – Traffic crossing the Ambassador Bridge increased 11 percent in the first quarter of 2010, compared with the depressed levels of automobiles and trucks using the bridge during the same three-months of 2009.

    The Detroit International Bridge Co. (DIBC), which owns and operates the Ambassador Bridge, said the increase was more a reflection on extremely low levels of traffic at all border crossings during the first quarter of 2009, caused by the global economic crisis and near shutdown of the automobile industry at that time.

    “We are happy that the increase in traffic during the first quarter shows the economy is better than it was last year and we hope the trend continues,” said DIBC President Dan Stamper. “Even if traffic continues to hold at higher levels, 2010 will be on track for the second-worst year over the last decade.”

    The Ambassador Bridge is the No. 1 international crossing in North America and it alone carries more than one-quarter of the trade between the United States and Canada.

    First quarter traffic this year was down 12 percent compared with 2008 and down 44 percent from 2000.

    Most of the first quarter increase was truck traffic, which was up 22 percent compared with 2009. But truck traffic in the first three months of 2010 was 15 percent lower than 2008 and 30 percent lower than 2000.

    Automobile traffic in the first quarter was up just 5 percent from 2009, but 9 percent fewer autos used the bridge compared with the first three months of 2008 and 51 percent fewer than in 2000.

    “It is interesting that the increase in traffic we had at the Ambassador Bridge, particularly with trucks, corresponds with a doubling of toll rates at the Blue Water Bridge, where traffic was up at a lesser rate,” Stamper said.

    Average wait times for passenger and commercial traffic crossing the Ambassador Bridge was well below 9 minutes in 2009 and significantly below the 70-minute average wait times that occurred in 2002 in the aftermath of 9/11, when U.S. and Canadian government inspectors increased border security.

    Working closely with federal authorities on both sides of the border, the Ambassador Bridge added additional inspection booths, parking areas and pre-processing centers for commercial vehicles and made electronic processing assistance available. Wait times at the Ambassador Bridge plummeted as a result.

    Analysis of internal hourly data on wait times from January 2010 shows that wait times for passenger cars traveling to Canada using the Ambassador Bridge exceeded 9 minutes only 4 percent of the time. Trucks going to Canada experienced wait times exceeding 9 minutes only 3 percent of the time. Wait times for cars and trucks entering the U.S. from Canada had wait times exceeding 9 minutes less than 1 percent of the time.

Yes, I know that cars are not trucks. However, if only the Bridge Company had mentioned as well what Crains did to demonstrate that the increase in traffic for the region overall was not all that it is cracked up to be when looking at what the Tunnel lost and the Bridge gained, then the story would have been complete:

  • "Car and truck traffic at the bridge is up slightly more than 11 percent through March, an increase of 167,192 vehicles to 1,663,965 from 1,496,773 at the same point last year.

    Tunnel traffic, however, is down more than 15.5 percent for the year, to 886,477 from 1,049,865. That’s a decline of 163,388 vehicles over the first 90 days of the year."

And I hope David Bradley is there to talk about his perspective about empty trucks and how his members will be pleased to pay the huge DRIC tolls considering he whinged about the tolls increasing at the Blue Water Bridge:

  • "there's still a long way to go to return to peak levels, observers say.

    "It's a hopeful sign but I don't think we're out of the woods yet and I do think there's a long way to go to recoup the traffic that has been lost," said David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association.

    "How filled are these trucks? It's one thing to have trucks crossing, we're glad to see those numbers pointing in the right direction. I still think there's still some issues in terms of balance of trade across the border and therefore making sure those trucks are filled both ways."

BLOGExclusive: The Granholm Legacy--P3 Taxation

  • "The latest overseas trip was Granholm's 10th since taking office in 2003."

I hope she will not be stopped at US Customs. Rumour has it that not only will the Governor bring back jet lag on her return but she will be carrying some strange stuff in her suitcase: the concept of P3s as a salvation for Michigan.

Oh it is serious, addicting many politicians world-wide it seems. Take a look at the BLOGs I wrote about P3 addiction if you want to know more about this fatal disease if not treated properly:
P3 Cocaine (Part 1)
P3 Cocaine (Part 2)

Of course, what that really means as Michigan Representative Pam Byrnes told us in her e-newsletter is a big rally on Friday for business, political and labour leaders to promote the passing of P3 legislation to save DRIC. Naturally, it won't be presented this way. The P3 umbrella will surround and hide DRIC to make P3s oh so appealling

Why Michigan leaders want to endrun President Obama by helping Canada out on DRIC has always mystified me. It cannot help the Governor if she wants a federal job. Take a look at my BLOG "Why MDOT Needs P3 Legislation For The DRIC Bridge"

P3s would serve a purpose for MDOT for sure and for Canada:

  • 1) little legislative oversight over spending if the money is coming from the private sector (until payback time when it is too late)

  • 2) a way perhaps to try to get around the eminent domain legisaltion

  • 3) a way to avoid a Dubai Ports situation and having Congress intervene.

Let's cut the P3 BS.

It is nothing more than a financing tool that Wall Street is trying to sucker Governments to adopt to make bankers richer. After all, the fees are huge. With the economic melt-down, who needs the investment bankers when Governments can borrow money at cheaper rates than the private sector. Look at the mess Macquarie is in with their tollroads to see what happens when this concept sours.

  • "Macquarie to split gems from dud pikes

    Macquarie are proposing to split their portfolio of pikes into the gems (called Mature MIG) and the duds called (called Active MIG). For the MMIG gems investors will pay a premium but will see the returns roll in steadily. The duds, Macquarie management will be working their tails off - active management - to make them less duddish. But being a more dicey investment AMIG the dud securities will probably sell at a lower price."

I do not understand why a State which can borrow money at low rates these days would want a P3 where the bankers want a monopoly and a rate of return from 13-20%!

I thought the rules about off-balance sheet borowings had changed so that a "loan" as a P3 deal really is has to be shown as one and not merely "expensed out" to make the State balance sheet look better.

If you want your hair to curl, take a look at this story about bankers and loans to Government. While not dealing specifically with P3s, if true, it is a scary read. Of course, I say, "if true" because I cannot vouch for its accuracy so you will have to read it with that caveat in mind:

  • "Looting Main Street:

    How the nation's biggest banks are ripping off American cities with the same predatory deals that brought down Greece

    By Matt Taibbi

    April 12, 2010 "Rolling Stone" - - If you want to know what life in the Third World is like, just ask Lisa Pack, an administrative assistant who works in the roads and transportation department in Jefferson County, Alabama. Pack got rudely introduced to life in post-crisis America last August, when word came down that she and 1,000 of her fellow public employees would have to take a little unpaid vacation for a while. The county, it turned out, was more than $5 billion in debt — meaning that courthouses, jails and sheriff's precincts had to be closed so that Wall Street banks could be paid."

Go to the top left of my BLOG and place the words "Port Mann Bridge" in the search box. You will learn the gory details of how the Macquarie P3 deal for a new bridge costing over $3B fell apart because of the economic melt-down and how the Province of British Columbia had to step in and save the deal.

More importantly, you will discover how the Province using the same contractors as the P3 group would save a billion dollars for taxpayers by financing the project the traditional way and shave a year off the project time-line.

A DRIC bridge financing would be a disaster since tolls would have to be up to 4 times higher than that of the Ambassador Bridge. Who would ever use it at that rate? Don't forget the bridge alone is over $2B and the entire project on both sides of the river is estimated at $5B. We know those numbers are not going to hold but will be much higher! Our Boston Big Dig by the time it is done.

Need proof of the financial failure to come---where are the financing numbers of the second section of the MDOT Wilbur Smith report and why hasn't MDOT revealed them BEFORE the rally!

If the tolls will really have to be that high, how can the new DRIC bridge compete? It cannot. Unless there is a subsidy to be provided by taxpayers, a new tax in other words for years to come for Michiganders. How many other bridge and road projects around the State will have to be postponed or cancelled to pay for DRIC? And that is exactly now being contemplated! As I Blogged before:

  • "

    "That is why separately Transport Canada's Mark Butler said:

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

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

    Now you know why it is not set in stone. But it gets even worse:

    "Given the anticipated tolled nature of the border crossing, MDOT says there are several public-private partnership models ranging from real tolls to availability payments that could be applied to the DRIC under current market conditions."

    What a joke...from real tolls to phony tolls ie payments support by either direct Government payments or guarantee or subsidies. All at extra taxpayer expense forever! They dare not say that in the RFPOI because then the Legislator who reads it would know that this is a financial disaster."

We are all being sold a bill of goods. Michigan especially now that we learned that the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, really wants to be the owner after he issued his secret mandate letter to buy the Ambassador Bridge. The DRIC project was a phony, designed it appears to me to help him out in his fantasy.

I have Blogged before about the Danish Professor and his work on Mega-Projects. Here is another expert and what he has to say about these Mega-Projects as well:

  • "Error and optimism bias in toll road traffic forecasts
    Robert Bain

    Abstract Traffic forecasts are employed in the toll road sector, inter alia, by private sector investors to gauge the bankability of candidate investment projects. Although much is written in the literature about the theory and practice of traffic forecasting, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the predictive accuracy of traffic forecasting models. This paper addresses that shortcoming by reporting the results from the largest study of toll road forecasting performance ever conducted. The author had access to commercial-in-confidence documentation released to project financiers and, over a 4-year period, compiled a database of predicted and actual traffic usage for over 100 international, privately financed toll road projects. The findings suggest that toll road traffic forecasts are characterised by large errors and considerable optimism bias."

In other words, P3s are a recipe for disaster. Why the Governor would want to be remembered for this is beyond me!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

CUPE Elections

I believe that the elections for CUPE Local 82 are coming up soon.

I heard that Jim Wood, the President during the 101-day strike, is being challenged for the top job.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Will the union members vote him out which would mean to me a repudiation of his leadership during the strike and afterwards, especially in relation to garbage outsourcing? Or will he remain at the helm of the Union either because the members liked his leadership or don't like his opponent.

If he loses, what would that mean to Jean Fox of CUPE Local 543 who has announced that she is running for re-election since she has a similar issue with her actions during the strike and with daycare closing.

The results of the election could also have an impact on relations with the City depending on the outcome and the platform of the winning candidate. Will we see a CUPE that is conciliatory or one that will become more militant.

The fundamental question in my opinion that Union members need to ask is whether they were well-served by their leadership during the strike and are they being well-served in the outsourcing debate and with other possible lay-offs at City Hall. In other words, how well has their leadership dealt with the public backlash against their members promoted primarily by the Star's one-sided support of the position of the hardliners on Council.

If there is a question period for candidates, I would ask why simple actions have not been taken that could have demonstrated why the hardliners "lost the war" contrary to what the Star said to re-establish the credibility of CUPE workers and why action has not been taken to stop outsourcing and closing in the face of obvious problems that the City has.

I have an opinion on what I would do if I was a CUPE member and have millions of reasons to support it. But since I am not, then I will keep quiet.

Can You Help Francis Kwame

I received this email, twice. Honest I did. I did NOT make it up. Francis Kwame was the name of the sender.

Someone overseas has a weird sense of humour

For a second, I thought it might be legitimate because of the reference to "Holiday to Bobo." Gee, I first thought it said "Boblo!"

Interestingly, another lawyer sent out an identical letter---Richard Agese. What a co-incidence.

However, something rotten is going on. Mr. Balino Harem, a third Attorney at law, also sent out a similar letter but his amount was $15M, not the $13M


This deed must be dealt with immediately. I think I had better send out a mass mailing to millions of people world-wide asking for assistance and money to help track down the thieves.
  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Francis Kwame
    To: ..
    Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 11:40 AM

    1515 CIRCLE GATE

    Dear Friend,

    I am Mr. Francis Kwame ,an Attorney at law, and the personal lawyer to Engineer Dr Alfred A. Corbeil, a foreigner who used to work and owned Corbeil Oil International in Burkina Faso, Herein after shall be referred to as my client.

    It may interest you to know that , I got your contact at the office of the Chamber of commerce and Tourism in Ouagadougou Burkina faso as I was going through some directories. On the 10th day of August 2003, my client, his wife and their two children were involved in a car accident along Ouaga - Bobo express way while arriving from a Holiday to Bobo.

    All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives. Since then, I have made several enquiries to their embassy to locate any of their extended relatives and this has also proved unsuccessful. I am contacting you to assist in repatriating a fund valued at USD$13Million,(Thirteen million United States Dollars),left behind by my client before it gets confiscated or declared unserviceable by the Security Finance Firm where this huge amount were deposited. The said Security Finance Company has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have his account confiscated within the next twenty one official working days.

    Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 4 years now, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin to the deceased so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to you. Therefore, I will not fail to inform you that this transaction is 100% risk free.

    On smooth conclusion of this transaction, you will be entitled to 30% of the total sum as gratification, while 10% will be set aside to take care of expenses that may arise during the time of transfer, internal revenue tax and also telephone bills, while 60% will be for me towards any profitable investment in your country. All I require from you is your honest co-operation to enable us see this transaction through.

    I guarantee that this will be executed under a legal framework and legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. I expect your urgent response indicating your full interest in this great business transaction to our both mutual trust.Please i advice you reply to my private e-mail address for privacy and confidentiality ( Kindly give me the information below to enable me establish you in the bank as beneficiary to my deceased client.

    1. NAME IN FULL:.......................
    2. ADDRESS:..............................
    3. NATIONALITY:......................
    4. AGE:.....................................
    5. SEX........................................
    6. OCCUPATION:......................
    7. MARITAL STATUS:............
    8. PHONE..................................
    9. FAX:........................................

    Best regard,
    Francis Kwame Esq.


Hey everybody, forget Monopoly and having a space on the Board named after Windsor. Boring.

We need a distinctly Windsor take-off on a game to pass away the time at the unemployment office until our economy booms again. Something exciting but quick since we know that the attention span of Windsorites is low. That is why the Star publishes stories with the key points buried at the end so no one will read them.

The game has to be timely too so people will understand its significance. I figured that the game could be a take-off of Tic-tac-toe. Oh that game is NOT as simple as you think:
  • "The simplicity of tic-tac-toe makes it ideal as a pedagogical tool for teaching the concepts of combinatorial game theory and the branch of artificial intelligence that deals with the searching of game trees."

Accordingly, I wanted a simple but fun game that is a good pedagogical tool for teaching the concepts of the border file settlement that was just reached. Thus in three words we learn everything as I name the game:


Do you understand. It explains that

  1. we got a DRIC road settlement,
  2. the Taqtaq family sees hopefully Duty Free Shop improvement as the Plaza gets fixed up (although under Edgar's leadership, Tunnel volumes are tanking so they may need a big rent reduction) and their lands around the Tunnel are expropriated finally and
  3. Windsor gets dough for its projects, the $78M that Edgar negotiated with the Province.

Naturally we need to replace the X's and O's. So here is how it would look

OK, OK, I know I am being silly but surely not as silly as the sycophants whose vicious objections and opposition to the DRIC road disappeared as quickly as saying "Re-elect Edgar Francis For Mayor" when he got $78M extra. Health concerns, pollution and noise impacts and the effect on children simply if they never existed. Because they did not.

You have to admit though the three words do explain it all very concisely. Let me go into more detail. I have already Blogged about DRIC ("It's A Sell-Out") and the Dough ("The Price Of The DRIC Road Compromise"). Now let me talk about the third part.

$24.2 million dollars of Provincial money to help out an international border crossing, the Tunnel, owned by the City of Windsor. What a great use of Provincial money in a time of deficit. Does her Majesty's Loyal Opposition at Queen's Park know about this and approve it? Torontonians must be so proud of us that we get the money they are losing.

What a coup by our Mayor. I am shocked that the Star did not publicize it more. We all ought to be applauding it not seeing it hidden away by the traditional media. Come on guys, let us know more so we can praise the negotiating skills of our Leader.

Hmmmm, that's odd. I have not seen so far what I am going to tell you reported in the Star. Why not? Oh, I guess their reporters don't know any of this. It's all factual too just like the Bloggers Basher on CKLW wants. Were the following facts reported by the very well-trained journalists on the radio? Naw, I guess they did not know the facts either.

I really think that this is a gorgeous photo of our Mayor at the wedding of his obviously good friend, Abe Taqtaq.

In case you forgot, Abe's family runs the Duty Free Shop at the Tunnel Plaza location which is leased from Windsor taxpayers (I am not sure now if it is still the Windsor Tunnel Commission who is the landlord or the new Tunnel Corporation, both of which are headed up by the Mayor).

The Tunnel is the beneficiary of a huge contribution from the Province as part of Edgar's negotiated DRIC Road deal in case that part of the Edgar (aka Eddie) is our hero in the Star stories escaped you.

The Taqtaq family also is an owner of the plaza where the Mayor's spouse has her business. PCR, who built the new East End arena under a single source contract from the City, was also the contractor there I believe:

I mention this because of this startling declaration in a Tunnel Commission Minute. Surely it must be wrong. Surely she does not rent space at the Tunnel too but that is what it says:

All of this intense interest in the Tunnel on the Mayor's part to make it part of the DRIC Road deal. Think this is strange. Nope....It's hardly a surprise as you shall see. After all, the Tunnel is a City asset, right, and we have 5,000 commuters to protect no matter what the cost or so Edgar claimed before.

Let's see now. Here are some Tunnel facts that may interest you:

  • the Tunnel has been described as a "unique security" risk
  • the report on the shape of the Tunnel has never been made public (I guess Congressman Dingell still does not care about the safety of Tunnel users the way he did with Ambassador Bridge users, both crossings being about the same age)
  • the Mayor wanted to spend $75M of Windsor taxpayer money--where it would come from, who knows--to take over running the US half do the Tunnel, not owning it either but failed miserably to do so at a cost of over a million dollars of taxpayer money in legal and consulting fees.
  • the Tunnel no longer pays the City a dividend
  • the Tunnel Plaza Improvement project was dead in the water since the City could not afford its $10M share and the price of the project had escalated dramatically as was told to us by the now departed Dev Tyagi

    (Current Project Status
    The first of three scheduled Public Information Centres on the proposed alternatives was held February 23, 2006. This is part of the Environmental Assessment (EA) process to allow the public to comment on possible alternatives for the improvement area. The second Public Information Centre was held July 26, 2006.
    Next Steps

    We are working with the City of Windsor to finalize the schedule for this project based on the remaining requirements for the EA study."
  • the Tunnel traffic is falling dramatically: "Detroit-Windsor Tunnel - almost all cars and local - is doing horribly. Jan-Mar this year totaled only 886k v 1,050k Jan-Mar 2009, over 15% off."
  • the DRIC Bridge is expected to take away a huge chunk of their business.
  • The Provincial share of the project increased by 142% from $10M to $24.2M and its share of the total project increased from a one third share to 55% (Whatever happened to each of the Governments sharing equally?)

All of this interest and expenditure in a declining asset. Yet Edgar made it part of the DRIC Road deal.

Would it have been a deal-breaker if the Province said NO? I guess we will never know unless Sandra and Dwight tell us what they discussed over breakfast in Sandra's house. How charming. I wonder if there was any concern about the Members Integrity Act as Sandra made waffles and coffee for them.

Good to see that the Province and City want to become active participants in a NAFTA case!

So what is one of the big deal points on a settlement that is primarily concerned with the DRIC Road to the Ambassador Bridge (yes that is what will happen) and that takes up a good chunk of the $78M prize money that Edgar (aka Eddie) negotiated as a consolation prize for chickening out and putting Windsor at risk using his own and David Estrin's presentations as evidence:

  • Building on the Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving (LGWEM) strategy

    Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Canadian Plaza Improvements
    • Ontario is investing an additional $10 million for improvements to the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Canadian Plaza. This is in addition to the $10 million announced under the LGWEM strategy in 2004 and $4.2 million spent on property to date.
    • Ontario and Canada will immediately restart the environmental study.
    • Public consultation sessions will be held shortly leading to completion of the study and the necessary environmental report.
    • Subject to environmental approval, property acquisition, and completion of further engineering work, construction could start as early as winter 2011 and will take approximately one year to complete.
How terrific that it is getting started so soon just after Edgar turned the Tunnel into a private company where pesky taxpayers and reporters can be kicked out of Tunnel meetings just like at the airport.

$14.2M extra...making a $30M project now $44.2M. I am certain not all of that increase is due to construction cost escalation.

But wait, the City did not have $10M in its budget for its share....Where will that money come from? Perhaps from the sale of all of those City properties to the Province:

  • "$12 million for the purchase of 150 city-owned properties along the route of the parkway"

Or maybe it will come from the obscene selling price that the Feds paid for the Brighton Beach property sold by Edgar.

Oh well, at least the Taqtaq family can breathe a big sigh of relief. They run the Duty Free Shop. The Star also claimed several years ago that they owned a lot of land around the Tunnel. You must remember the 5-part BLOG series I did about Friendship.

They must have been quite concerned because nothing was happening with the Tunnel Plaza Improvements for years! You remember the BLOG I did about this property right across from the Tunnel. Why it was empty for so long that they must have lost a fortune in rental revenue.

Moreover, their Duty Free business must have been suffering badly with the huge reduction in traffic as well. With the improvements at the Ambassador Bridge, who would ever want to use the Tunnel.

Please note above the Mayor's declaration of pecuniary interest and declaration thereof in only two of them. Edgar is so modest. "member of the former campaign." Pshaw, Abe was his campaign manager. As the City Clerk told me after I asked, remember:

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Critchley, Valerie
    Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 12:40 PM
    Subject: FW: Declaration of Pecuniary Interest

    Good Afternoon:

    Thank-you for your inquiry which has been directed to me for response.

    I can advise that the Mayor has always been cautious to take the high ground with respect to any possibility of an actual or perceived conflict of interest and has always chosen to excuse himself from any discussion or voting on any matter related to the Duty Free Shop. The basis of his caution is his personal acquaintance with Abe Taqtaq, his former campaign manager. Also, while the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act excludes matters that are remote and insignificant, the Mayor has also noted that his spouse is a tenant in a building that Mr. Taqtaq has an interest in.

    I trust this answers your inquiry and remain,

    Yours Truly,

    Valerie Critchley
    City Clerk
    Corporation of the City of Windsor"

The Taqtaqs must be overjoyed that part of the DRIC compromise negotiated by Edgar resulted in so much more money being given to the project so that their business operations can be improved and so that their land can finally be expropriated. Didn't the Star say at one time that:

  • "Closing a portion of Goyeau Street to all but tunnel-bound traffic is being considered by the Windsor Tunnel Commission as a solution to the traffic tie-ups at Goyeau and Wyandotte Street East. The closure, which would affect Goyeau between Park Street and Wyandotte, would allow an expansion of the tunnel plaza and reduce the congestion during morning rush hour and at other peak crossing times.

    "The status quo simply isn't working," said Mayor Eddie Francis, who is chairman of the commission. "We don't want people to panic because it may not be feasible, but we have to find an alternative to a situation which has become intolerable for our citizens, for commuters and for tourists."

    The commission has requested a report from the traffic engineering department on the impact of closing the street and what it would do to traffic patterns in the immediate vicinity.

    Along the stretch of Goyeau being considered, the only building not owned by either the city or the Windsor Tunnel Duty Free Shop is a Burger King franchise opposite the tunnel entrance."

Of course as I said above, the Mayor must protect the Tunnel's business but note this as well where the Mayor did NOT disclose a pecuniary interest when he was a Councillor. I do not know why he did not do so:

He introduced the Motion to support what the Duty Free Shop wanted and did not declare a pecuniary interest.

Remember also the Coltaq Motion introduced by the Mayor that must have helped the Coltaq and Collavino families:

Moreover, Phase One of the Let's Get Windsor-Essex Moving Strategy included:

  • "Windsor, Ontario, March 11, 2004 - The Governments of Canada, Ontario and Windsor today announced new measures that are part of a joint $300 million federal-provincial investment to help improve the Windsor Gateway, Canada's busiest border crossing.Today's agreement identifies five initial project investments, including:

    •Improvements to the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Plaza in order to provide for more effective traffic management, including the implementation of the NEXUS program;"

At the time, the decision to focus on the Tunnel made little sense to me when Huron Church was supposed to be the trouble spot. And the agreement was signed within months of Edgar becoming Mayor too. The improvements are very important to the Taqtaq family because business was hurting at the Tunnel obviously with the reduced number of visitors:

  • "Traffic at the Windsor-Detroit tunnel remains in a slump, and the border crossing's retail duty-free store is feeling the impact. It's been this way for months, and while the list of reasons seems as long as the tie-ups some days, Marwan Taqtaq, who operates the Windsor Tunnel Duty Free Shop with his family and staff, remains optimistic.

    The pending redesign of the tunnel plaza is expected to provide better store access for vehicles."

In passing, did the request to "abandon a standard" create a huge liability on the City if something went wrong? How could the City argue that it was acting in a reasonable manner by abandoning what the association said should be done?

I don't recall the City negotiating that kind of money for the Tunnel's border competitor, the Ambassador Bridge, to improve their operation as part of the Strategy. There was $300M in BIF money around after all. Why not? They are an important crossing too. They have been hurt in traffic reduction. Their Duty Free Shop must have lost business.

There never was a Phase II Agreement which presumably would have dealt with the Bridge. What the Bridge received from Edgar, instead of helping them with a property issue, was the denial of demolishing homes on Indian Road!

There you have it dear reader. The new game, an explanation of each of the key elements and knowledge about the border file so that you can dazzle your friends with three little words.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some Info About Matty Moroun

Here are some things that you may not have known about Matty Moroun


That should be his new name after a story was written about him:
  • "Detroit's Donald Trump Is Buying Up Small Lots Across the City...

    His name is not as well known as Donald Trump, but Manuel "Matty" Moroun is clearly a landed force to be reckoned with in his home state...

    how come he doesn't have his own TV show like that other real estate mogul"

This was a comment about the Detroit Free Press articles about him buying property in Detroit.

Wouldn't you just love to see him say to Edgar (aka Eddie): "You're Fired!


  • "Moroun said he buys property in Detroit hoping to provide truck and rail hubs to industry"

    "He concentrates his buying in areas of Detroit once known as industrial and transportation hubs and where he hopes his holdings might contribute to a revival."

While Edgar runs off to Germany and has Lufthansa do a study where we know that City taxpayer money will have to be spent to encourage business to come to our Cargo Shanty at the airport, The Matty spends his own private money to accomplish the same objective.


  • "Today we're buying property on the southwest side of Detroit because that's the only place for rail. ... I don't know why everybody's hell-bent on knocking rail out. They're making a mistake."

DRTP will have to talk to him if they have any hope of building their rail tunnel.


  • "Moroun said he bought land as an active investment, trying to make something happen, not as a passive speculator."

Now here it comes:

  • "I'm not a speculator. I don't sell anything."

So much for the Prime Minister's secret mandate letter to buy the Ambassador Bridge

And to emphasize the point:

  • "Moran, Moroun's corporation counsel, dismissed such complaints. He said Moroun hopes and plans to redevelop as much of his Detroit property as he can.

    "We're not just buying it waiting for someone else to come along and want it and then get a price out of it," Moran said. "We're buying it because we have a game plan. Some of them are short term, most of them are long term, for the redevelopment of Detroit. In the meantime, we try and be as good a neighbor as we can. We pay taxes, and we help the city coffers."

That just follows what he said in the Detroit News in December 2008 if anyone forgot:

  • "The bridge is a living thing," Moroun said. "It's become part of me and I think I've done a good job. It's my legacy. They want to steal it from me but that's not going to happen, I promise."

I am sure that I do not have to remind bureaucrats of the Globe and Mail 2 1/2 page spread either.


I Blogged before that Canada should have worked with him but the Ottawa types refused to do so.

  • "He at times smiled, chuckled, grew pensive, and often urged a Free Press reporter to treat him fairly.

    He complained of being "demonized" and "vilified" in news media reports, and urged a Free Press reporter to "Rise above it!"

Thanks to Line of Sight's BLOG, I forgot what had been written before about him during the FIRA era where he was investigated when he wanted to buy the Bridge. That clearly explains the smear tactics being used against him today:

  • "Moroun often finds himself in court. The Canadians, citing federal law, were demanding 50 percent interest when he took control of the bridge in 1979. Moroun took the Canadian government to court in the United States. The Canadians struck back, launching an investigation into his background, intimating that Moroun had ties to organized crime. The allegation was never proven. After a decade in court, the Canadians capitulated, settling for almost nothing, except an agreement that Moroun make improvements to the bridge."

That tactic did not work before but Canada is trying it again. That is why The Matty has become the most "public" reclusive billionaire ever!

And the Free Press real estate stories and Editorial---timed perfectly in advance of this Friday's pro-DRIC rally.


The call has gone out and the friends of DRIC are responding.

Who cares if DRIC will cost Senior Citizens in Michigan more money. No time to listen to them when DRIC duty calls. No answers either to their questions.

DRIC is in big trouble. Gather the forces to save it from being ended. Saving taxpayer money, get real.... The boondoggle must go on!

Big meeting to convince and pressure the Michigan Legislature to salvage the unsalvageable DRIC. Or rather to pass P3 legislation to help make Wall Street investment bankers rich again.

Has anyone seen the financing numbers report from Wilbur Smith yet? I have not seen the report publicly even though the traffic numbers report was issued some time ago. If not, I can guess why.

They have to be so horrible meaning that an "alternative payment" regime is necessary because there is not enough money in toll revenues or the tolls would be so high no one would ever cross the border in Detroit/Windsor (except at the lower cost Ambassador Bridge!). ie taxpayer subsidy needed. After all, the total cost is $5 billion for roads, plazas and bridge.

As I Blogged before:

  • "That is why separately Transport Canada's Mark Butler said:

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

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

    Now you know why it is not set in stone. But it gets even worse:

    "Given the anticipated tolled nature of the border crossing, MDOT says there are several public-private partnership models ranging from real tolls to availability payments that could be applied to the DRIC under current market conditions."

    What a joke...from real tolls to phony tolls ie payments support by either direct Government payments or guarantee or subsidies. All at extra taxpayer expense forever! They dare not say that in the RFPOI because then the Legislator who reads it would know that this is a financial disaster.

    "Current market conditons" is a euphemism for saying there is no way that a "real toll" bridge could ever be considered because of

    ---the multi-billion cost which would drive users away

    ---economic melt-down,

    ---lack of infrastructure money and

    ---competiton from the Ambassador Bridge whose tolls would be 1/4 of that of the DRIC bridge.

If there is no legislative approval, then the project is dead. Think how badly off financially and upset the DRIC consultants and engineers and bankers and P3 operators and lobbyists and lawyers will be. $60M or so earned so far from this project on both sides of the border and even more millions yet to be made at public expense!

Never mind how distraught Canada and its bureaucrats and politicians will become. Another effort to beat Moroun and take away his bridge cheaply down the drain.

Now you know why Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent out his secret mandate letter to buy the Ambassador Bridge. He knows that the DRIC was always a phony and that the DRIC supporters in Michigan have blown it.

We need to run a pool about who will be attending the meeting. I need a trustworthy person to mark off the political, business and labour people from this list below. Those are my guesses. Perhaps Sarah Hubbard from the Detroit Chamber could do it. I am sure she WILL be there.

These people surely will be attending, rooting for DRIC even if some of them are supposed to be independent and not a cheerleader. I mean they were there when DRIC needed them before:

Council Payments---Read It And Weep

Perfect time to release the info, buried in the Communications Package as Item 21 out of 28. With the DRIC matter taking the headlines.

Just doubleclick the images to see them more clearly.

Lots of meetings at Enwin to generate fees like that! I bet CUPE workers wish that they could increase their salaries merely by attending Board meetings like that.

Oh and the expenses incurred by Edgar (aka Eddie)

And the Councillors:

Wow, going to BC is not cheap!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Playing With Border Truck Numbers

Seriously, have you ever seen Bridge Company traffic numbers receiving as much publicity as they have been over the past few months.

Naturally, you are seeing them as traffic numbers increase by such high percentages. I don't recall seeing them as much in the headlines as volumes were tanking. Makes Sean O'Dell feel good I bet.

But here is a math example for you:

If your high was 100 trucks per day and your low was 50 trucks per day, then a 20% increase in volume from your low is still only 60 trucks per day.

Of course this is all propaganda designed to convince Michigan Legislators that there is a need for the DRIC Bridge. How do I know, mini-Gord revealed it:
  • "Truck traffic crossing the Ambassador Bridge is up 22 per cent this year, the Detroit Chamber of Commerce said Monday.

    Truck traffic shot up by 25 per cent in March, for more than 1,500 extra trucks per day. Passenger car traffic is also up over 2009, the chamber said.

    Since the economic recovery has just started, traffic is likely to continue to grow.

    The traffic increase belies the repeated claims of environmentalists, the Ambassador Bridge and other opponents with an economic interest in blocking or delaying the badly needed new road and new bridge."

The Detroit Chamber is impartial? Hardly. Just remember the Sarah Hubbard interview I Blogged

And the Chamber's endorsement of DRIC in this unbelievable statment:

  • "We favor the DRIC," said Sarah Hubbard, the Detroit chamber's vice president of governmental relations. "We don't oppose the Ambassador Bridge overtly. And, if they build a second span, we could live with it. But we support the bi-national effort of the DRIC."

How does she oppose the Ambassador Bridge project, covertly?

Heck, even David Bradley of OTA, another supporter of the DRIC bridge, casts some doom over these increase in numbers:

  • "there's still a long way to go to return to peak levels, observers say.

    "It's a hopeful sign but I don't think we're out of the woods yet and I do think there's a long way to go to recoup the traffic that has been lost," said David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association.

    "How filled are these trucks? It's one thing to have trucks crossing, we're glad to see those numbers pointing in the right direction. I still think there's still some issues in terms of balance of trade across the border and therefore making sure those trucks are filled both ways."

I wonder why no one has publicized this since I saw it in Crains only:

  • "Car and truck traffic at the bridge is up slightly more than 11 percent through March, an increase of 167,192 vehicles to 1,663,965 from 1,496,773 at the same point last year.

    Tunnel traffic, however, is down more than 15.5 percent for the year, to 886,477 from 1,049,865. That’s a decline of 163,388 vehicles over the first 90 days of the year."

[UPDATE: also pubished similar stats on March 16.]

In other words, almost no net gain, just a shift in traffic. Hardly an endorsement for an economic revival. Hmmm, maybe that is why the Tunnel Plaza Improvements have never been done. Make it hard for people and commerce to use the Tunnel to keep the Bridge numbers high even in this near-Depression!

But let us take a different perspective on all of this. Let us accept a comment as true what was said in the Detroit News:

  • "Supporters of a new bridge believe traffic, especially truck traffic, will continue to improve as the economy improves."

So what would be the timetable for considering the DRIC Bridge again. Decades from now at the earliest. Why:

  • "Pew study: Michigan on track for California-style money woes

    Detroit News Lansing Bureau

    Recession-rocked Michigan is one of nine states on the verge of a California-style economic disaster, according to a report released today by the Pew Center on the States.

    The Washington, D.C.-based public policy think tank found that after the auto industry collapse plunged this state into recession in 2001, from which it has never recovered, leaders here have failed to modernize the tax code, have used temporary solutions to resolve budget deficits and have been slow to diversify its auto-reliant economy.

    "Michigan's recovery is going to be a long haul," the report says. "Even if the state were to immediately begin growing at the rapid rates of the 1990s, it would be 2025 or 2030 before it replaced all the jobs it lost this decade.

    "The state will have lost more than a million jobs by the end of this decade, more than a third of those this year, and 268,000 of them in the auto industry. The state's 15.3 percent unemployment rate is highest in the nation...

    "The recession accelerated drops in state revenues and has left Michigan's government trying to deal with today's problems on a 1960-sized budget," the report says.

    The state has not come to grips with the fact that it is no longer one of the nation's most prosperous states, according to the study.

    In addition, the state's aging population and "generous income tax exemptions for pensions and other retirement income" will take a toll on future revenues.

    "In 20 years, we're going to look like Florida does now if the demographic trends continue, and no one's going to be paying taxes except those that are working," Michigan House Fiscal Agency Director Mitchell Bean told Pew researchers."

Why are the numbers 2025 and 2030 so interesting? Go back and read my BLOG "Place Your Bet In The DRIC Bridge Completion Pool

As I Blogged:

  • "Sen. Cropsey’s chief of staff, John Lazet, told the Journal of Commerce that falling commercial and passenger traffic now and into the future, and Michigan’s current years of economic distress, mean billions should not be poured into an unnecessary publicly-owned bridge when Moroun wants to build a span adjacent to his present bridge. Lazet said a regional transportation authority in southeast Michigan projects DRIC construction could take until 2025 to complete...

    In October, 2009, SEMCOG was now looking at the 2021-2025 time period for DRIC.

    That did trigger a memory:

    "Stuedle said construction on the bridge needs to begin somewhere between 2015 and 2030 depending on traffic flow."

    That meant completion around 2035-2037 now! That seemed more likely since it was consistent with a recent Pew Center on the States...

    And here was what was said at the Cropsey hearing that fits in as well to a much later start:

    "Algurabi: We believe we need ten lanes. Now the need for it, it varies. Again it’s based, I’m told its more of an art than it’s a science, at least traffic projection. When you’re looking at that the need could begin as early as 2025, or could be as late as, I believe its 2015 all the way to 2035 that the need will be, will be there and you’ll have to have it. But the time to plan for it and have it in place, you can plan for it, then you gotta plan for it in advance"...

    We legitimately can now go out as far as say, 2040. And that is outside the DRIC study period so we may need to start all over again and get new dates taking into acount today's economic reality."

So keep on expecting to see these traffic number headlines, at least until early June when the Michigan legislators have to make a DRIC decision.

And don't worry if numbers go down again. DRIC will haul out Windsor's Mayor who can justify the fall as he did the Tunnel's disastrous decrease in numbers by bringing out the old chestnuts:

  • "Numbers for the Windsor-Detroit tunnel showed a drop of 15.9 per cent in passenger vehicle crossings from January to March of this year compared to last.

    Mayor Eddie Francis, the chairman of the city's tunnel commission, said the combined effects of the stronger Canadian dollar and new passport regulations are still being felt."

A Few Random Thoughts

I just thought of these things. I wonder what you think:


Remember the children's game where kids are asked to spot the differences between 2 pictures. Here is a Windsor adult version of it using a Star cartoon. Once you spot the change you will understand the significance of how the Star tries to mold its readers' opinions:


I wish I knew who has responsibility of looking after the acres and acres of green space that Windsor will inherit as a result of theDRIC road being built, if it ever is.

I did not see that mentioned in the love-in amongst Edgar, Sandra and Dwight. Hmmm that means Windsor taxpayers are stuck I bet!


Why do the unions where Edgar (aka Eddie) is intimately involved face labour stoppages or compulsory arbitration but those where he is hands-off get settled. Maybe Ken Lewenza Junior ought to teach him how to negotiate since he has been very successful.

I know, I's all politics. Edgar wants to be the pacesetter against public service unions

Here is the latest Police Association salvo:

    April 9, 2010

    WINDSOR – The Windsor Police Association today denied being the cause of delays in its contract negotiation with the Windsor Police Services Board. Thedelay, they insist, results from the Board's demand that the Association accept an unprecedented and unrealistic pre-condition to negotiation.

    “It’s unfortunate that the Mayor and the Board are publicly pinning the delay on us,” said Ed Parent, President of the Windsor Police Association. “It’s not a fair representation of what’s causing the delay; we’re acting in good faith and they know it.”

    “The sticking point,” explained the Association’s administrator and chief negotiator John Burrows, “is the Board’s inclusion of a pre-negotiation condition that would allow the Board to make additional proposals to the contract negotiation at their discretion, at any time.” That kind of “moving-target” negotiation, Burrows said, is unacceptable – the kind of thing that can make negotiations difficult.

    “Indeed,” he added, ”by insisting on having the right to add proposals at their discretion, the Board seems to acknowledge the Mayor’s earlier comment that, from his perspective, ‘everything is on the table’. In point of fact, a total of only 18 proposals are on the table, those advanced by the two sides.”

    The Mayor’s claim that the Board is “at the table” is also regrettable, in the Association’s view. “Being seated in the room isn’t the same as being at the table,” Burrows said. “Being at the table means you’re ready to negotiate the proposals as they’ve been put forward. The Mayor and the Board aren’t there yet.

    The Association, Parent insists, is ready and eager to negotiate the proposals that have been tabled by both sides. “They’ve laid down their proposals and we’ve laid down ours,” he said. “I’m sure the citizens of this city want and expect us to get down to the business of negotiating,” he added. “That’s what we want, too.”

    Ed Parent
    Windsor Police Association

It's the same tactic that Edgar played before. I trust this time around the Police Association is smarter, especially in the PR category, to get and keep citizens onside and to put the blame for the failure to get a deal where it belongs.


Does anyone know what they think? Does anyone care? I don't recall them being interviewed in the Star.

Oh, I forgot. There is just one Voice of Council.


  • April 9, 2010

    President’s Letter to the Membership

    I believe this term as president has been the most challenging, demanding and gruelling term ever held by any president. Almost two years filled with job eliminations, the tornado that almost destroyed our office building, a punishing 101 day strike, contracting out issues and now the closure of our Day Care Centres not to forget the bumping that will result from it.

    But while it has been laborious it has also been fulfilling, rewarding and inspirational, which is why I have decided to run again for the position of President in the upcoming May election.

    With everything that has happened these past two years it is clear to me that our union stood strong, with our heads held high and fought what we believed in. We stayed strong and returned to work with much more than had we not gone out on strike. We made front page headlines in major newspapers across Canada (don’t think for minute I’m including the Windsor Star as a newspaper, o.k.) and earned the respect of union brothers and sisters all across Canadian. We have much to be proud of.

    There are however many more serious issues to be address. The next few years are going to be anything but easy and it is even more important than ever to have an experienced President. My experience and dedication of over the past 25 years working my way up the ladder has afforded me the knowledge, skill and experience to handle not just the small issues but the major ones we will be soon facing.

    I have always seen so much support from CUPE 543 members and I truly hope that May 19th, I will have your support again. I know may had mixed feelings about the strike, believe me if I could have prevented it, I would have. Decisions are often extremely and many believe they could have done better. What I do know is that I always do my best and will continue to do so. It is more important than ever to have someone with knowledge and experience as President looking out for your best interest. Which is why I need your support?

    Below is a quote which I would like to share.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

    I would appreciate feed back on your support. Thank you

    Jean Fox

One of the Councillors asked me during the strike whether I was trying to be President of CUPE. Hmmm, I wonder if the rules allow me to do so.

Relax Jean, just kidding.

I wonder though if she will be challenged. Some people could think of a reason every pay cheque or say 30 million reasons why she and Jim Wood ought not to be re-elected.


This will be a tough race for any candidate to win, running against Alan Halberstadt. I am surprised he is running since he seemed to have lost his enthusiasm.

I am surprised at this comment of his but then again, I guess he does not want the Star angry at him. So much for Edgar's arrogance and no bounds:

  • "Halberstadt acknowledges he and Mayor Eddie Francis haven't always seen eye to eye.

    "There have been some conflicts with the mayor and council ... and myself in particular," he said. "I'll be the first to say Eddie works very hard ... he's brought a lot of money into the city," he said.

For this alone, I would not vote for Alan never mind this comment:

  • "He describes himself as a "realist," but acknowledges the pro-labour types may "believe I'm a hardliner."

Oh, so he admits he helped Edgar cost taxpayers a fortune on the CUPE settlement.

Here is what one person running against him set out in a Press Release which the Star will never publish:

  • "I am pleased to take this opportunity to announce my intention to run in the upcoming municipal election for the position of Ward 4 councillor in the City of Windsor.

    I am committed to providing the residents of Ward 4 with effective representation. Further, I intend to work with the rest of council and the mayor to rebuild the connections in our community that have, in the past, made our city the great. I believe that only when we reject the divisions that currently plague our residents, can we truly move forward. I hope to improve the current dynamic of council and work to build consensus. I love our city and I am anxious to get to work on behalf of Ward 4.


    Jody Percy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

BLOGexclusive: Stats Can Kills DRIC Bridge Need

It is no wonder that Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued his secret mandate letter over Xmas to buy the Ambassador Bridge. The data below may not have been released publicly yet although it is publicly available.

A devastating Government of Canada Report makes mockery of the need to build a DRIC bridge. It makes clear that the information about border problems--capacity, thickening--was nothing more than misinformation spread by the Government and its followers and lapdogs to accomplish other purposes including probably perimeter security and the purchase of the Ambassador Bridge!

The problem with the border is the Government itself: its paperwork and regulations NOT border infrastructure!

It makes me sick to see the waste of taxpayer money so far on the DRIC project. However, it is a mere drop in the bucket of the wasteful extravagance that is yet to come. For what reasons are billions going to be spent other than to make a few private investment banks very, very rich at taxpayer expense.

I trust someone is pleased with this obscene taxpayer rip-off and boondoggle. I am not and I trust, dear reader, neither are you. Wait until you see the real cost of the DRIC road, plazas and bridge! No wonder that MDOT has not yet released publicly the Wilbur Smith financing numbers for Michigan Legislators to review.

Statistics Canada undertook a very interesting study on the Canada-US border

  • "The Canada-U.S. Border Survey aims to measure the number of manufacturing businesses operating in Canada experiencing barriers to exporting and importing goods to and from the United States via the Canada-United States border and the extent to which these barriers affect strategic decisions. As well, the survey will provide data on mitigating strategies used by these businesses to overcome theses impediments. It is a cost recovery survey funded by the Security and Prosperity Partnership Research Fund and led by the Policy and Sector Services Branch of Industry Canada.

    The results of this survey will be used to enhance government decision-making by providing data for developing programs and policies to promote efficient border crossings between Canada and the United States...

    The target population for CUBS is all establishments operating in 2008 within selected manufacturing industries with at least 5 million dollars in revenues for 2008."

It is a huge survey with over 5,000 businesses contacted. The results of the survey just came out recently and the results should be a shock for DRIC supporters. As study after study has demonstrated, although the authors throw in a gratuitous reference to our border crossing, capacity is NOT the issue and never has been except as a phony justification to destroy the Bridge Company business.

The problem is the paperwork and rules that are destroying our border.

If we have billions to spend, spend it on what is really causing our industry problems and not on some bureaucratic hidden agenda that will involve us all in lawsuits for a decade.

Let me give a short summary of some of the relevant questions and answers

Q28 Factors which would most likely cause a business to start or increase importing across the Canada - U.S. border in the next three years

What this means in the words of a Stats Can economist is:

  • "4% of all companies who responded are saying that "Improved border infrastructure and/or increased staff at border crossings" would most likely cause their business to start or increase importing across the Canada - U.S. border in the next three years."

It is hardly the crossings that are the problem. Rather it is the Governements themselves that are the cause of border problems and yet the Governments want to throw billions on a non-issue.

"Border thickening" will NOT be improved one iota by a DRIC Bridge. The paperwork logjam will remain and continue to cause problems.

Q9 In 2008, were shipments late because of Canada - U.S. border issues or processes?
Only 49% said YES

Too bad it was not broken down further.

Q13 Which of the following would most likely cause your business to start or increase exporting across the Canada - U.S. border in the next three years

Virtually the same percentages as above for importing. Our exporters do not see the border infrastrucutre as the problem but Governments themselves

Q23. In 2008, what percentage of imports from the U.S. arrived on-time?


Section 5: Border Thickness

Border thickness is a term used to measure perception of how difficult it is to import or export. Border thickness includes the following items that could affect the time and expense related to importing or exporting.

Q31. Over the last 3 years, have Canada – U.S. border delays…
01 Decreased---14
02 Stayed the same---51
03 Increased---35

Q 32. Over the last 3 years, has overall paperwork related to using the Canada - U.S. border
01 Decreased---10
02 Stayed the same---41
03 Increased---48

An interesting co-relation. Increases in delay matched by a much bigger increase in paperwork.

What is really fascinating is that Stats Canada identified other border problems eg NAFTA rules of origin or Canadian or U.S. requirements for product standards, health and safety but did NOT mention border infrastructure or capacity issues at all.


Q38 In 2008, please indicate how Canada - U.S. border thickness in 2008 when importing, compared to border thickness, when exporting.

01 Border thickness was greater for importing---18%
02 Border thickness was greater for exporting---38%
03 Border thickness was the same for importing and exporting---45%

Clearly Governments need to clean up their acts first!

Q 44 Canada - U.S. border thickness
01 Not a challenge at all---24%
02 A small challenge---30%
03 Somewhat of a challenge---34%
04 A significant challenge---11%
05 An extreme challenge---2%

Unbelievable...Canada has built a border issue of thickening over nothing...only 13% of companies have a major issue. And we want to spend billions on this. Incredible.

Section 7: Border Challenges

Now I am going to ask questions specifically related to challenges your business may have faced in 2008 due to the Canada - U.S. border. Please rate the following factors as not a challenge at all, a small challenge, somewhat of a challenge, a significant challenge, or an extreme challenge.

Q 47. Border delays?
01 Not a challenge at all---31%
02 A small challenge---34%
03 Somewhat of a challenge---26%
04 A significant challenge---9%
05 An extreme challenge---1%

Almost the same percentages as border thickness. Only 10% have major problems.

Q 48. Overall paperwork related to using the Canada - U.S. border?

01 Not a challenge at all---22
02 A small challenge---28
03 Somewhat of a challenge---32
04 A significant challenge---16
05 An extreme challenge---2

Q 49. Uncertainty related to the extent of border delays?

01 Not a challenge at all---32
02 A small challenge---21
03 Somewhat of a challenge---37
04 A significant challenge---10
05 An extreme challenge---1

Billions for 11%?

53. The number of hours and timing of when inspectors are on duty at the border?
01 Not a challenge at all---46
02 A small challenge---27
03 Somewhat of a challenge---19
04 A significant challenge---7
05 An extreme challenge---2

Again, as above, what is really fascinating is that Stats Canada identified other border problems but did NOT mention border infrastructure or capacity issues at all.

Q 57 In 2008, which of the following was the most important border issue when exporting to the U.S.?

01 Border delays---8%
02 Overall paperwork---34%
03 Uncertainty related to the extent of border delays---8%
04 Costs including freight transport and insurance related to using the Canada - U.S. border---16%
05 NAFTA rules of origin regulation---8%
06 Tariffs or fees payable at the border---3%
07 The number of hours and timing of when inspectors are on duty at the border---2%
08 Canadian requirements including product standards, health and safety and border-related regulations---too unreliable a number
09 U.S. requirements including product standards, health and safety and border-related
10 The differences between Canadian and U.S. requirements including product standards,
health and safety and border-related regulations---9%

Government paperwork and rules are the biggest factors!

Q 58 In 2008, which of the following was the most important border issue when exporting to the U.S.?

01 Border delays---11%
02 Overall paperwork---34%
03 Uncertainty related to the extent of border delays---8%
04 Costs including freight transport and insurance related to using the Canada - U.S. border---18%
05 NAFTA rules of origin regulation---8%
06 Tariffs or fees payable at the border---2%
07 The number of hours and timing of when inspectors are on duty at the border---3%
08 All Canadian requirements including product standards, health and safety and border-related regulations---5%
09 All U.S. requirements including product standards, health and safety and border-related regulations---2%
10 The differences between Canadian and U.S. requirements including product standards,
health and safety and border-related regulations---9%

Government paperwork and rules are the biggest factors, again!

Q70. In the last three years, did your business change which border crossing to use or change the mode of transportation due to border thickness?

Only 13% said YES.

Is there a major media outlet or a politician who will finally scream that enough is enough? Will taxpayers demand that the waste be stopped? When will the Auditor-General act? Who is going to make the unreasonable and unjustifiable profits? Who will investigate this?

Does anyone care?

The Price Of The DRIC Road Compromise

Wow, a CKLW pre-emptive News Commentary strike against BLOGGERS before the big DRIC road sell-out announcement on Friday. Discredit Bloggers in advance at all costs. I am very impressed.

You have to be careful of me and my colleagues, dear reader, because we are not trained journalists like the clapping seals perhaps at the radio station. "Thank God!" I can hear many of my readers shouting out!

Imagine how powerful we must be, or certain politicians at least must believe that, for such an attack to be made at that time, right out of the blue.

Here are a few reasons some are terrified of us. We cannot be controlled. We can think. We can analyze. We know the facts. We can tell you what some traditional Windsor media reporters do not dare report about. We can give an alternative perspective from the love-in about Edgar (aka Eddie) and his DRIC triumph over the Province that you will read about in the Star as an example.

Let me show you what I mean.

I am sure that if I told you that this deal was timed precisely to conclude now in order to help beat Matty Moroun, you would think I was mad. If I told you that it was designed to prove to Michigan Legislators that only DRIC should be supported, you would think that I am stretching it.

Of course, I am not. The Saturday Star Editorial gave it away, right at the end because Windsorites are too dumb to be able to read that far or to comprehend that much intellectual prose or so the Editors believe. Remember that there is a June deadline whether DRIC will be killed in Michigan:
  • "Border deal
    Now we're shovel ready

    Just as important, the federal government, the province and city are finally all on side on the border file. From Canada's standpoint, all the pieces are in place and everyone is working together -- that co-operation is critical for our partners on the American side to see.

    It's time to turn our attention to the start of full construction and getting the new bridge open to traffic as soon as possible."

See what I mean. There may be much more to the DRIC settlement than meets the eye and who in the traditional media has opened your eyes to the possibility. Certainly not the commentator on CKLW.

Gord Henderson got it very wrong in his column...we got the Joint Management Committee and the Hurst "Made in Windsor solutions in one neatly tied package. The Star told us in a frontpage headline how much the sell-out cost

Not a word that the building of Lauzon, the widening of Walker as well as the Manning upgrade mean that an upgraded E C Row can built to service supposedly Edgar's airport hub. In reality, Edgar's protestations about no trucks on E C Row really give Commerce another route to the border as the Nine-Point Plan wanted to do. You know the Plan that Edgar had opposed so strongly. Windsor now has become a truck stop on the NAFTA Super highway thanks to Edgar. The Star told us in a frontpage headline how much the sell-out cost

We learned, even though Edgar made this a crucial issue, what the price of our health--cancer, asthma, cardio-vascular--is worth to us, our children and generations of children to come as not one single inch of tunnelling was added. We learned how much the Greenlink post-cards, flags, meetings, Council Chamber banner, painted buses and decals on police cars earned Edgar and how much fear and divisiveness in the City cost Windsorites. The Star told us in a frontpage headline how much the sell-out cost

In fact, the Star Saturday Editorial blessed the sell-out. Now you know another reason I am so happy I cancelled my subscription:

"It also means the city did not get the extensive tunnelling it originally wanted, but $78 million in refinements that were enough to lay the groundwork for an acceptable deal."

What is the cost of betrayal: a measly 1.56% of the total $5B DRIC project, mere bureaucrat lunch money. Our tax money used to betray us too. How ironic.

What is the real price of the compromise to Edgar? Probably the end of his political career because Greenlink supporters will understand that they were played once they look past what the sycophants claim. But I don't think he was going to run anyway so it is no big loss to him. He will pull a Mike Hurst on us and decide not to run in the last minute and then get a nice job somewhere where his talents can shine. Just one-upping Mike's theatric performance that he pulled on Edgar at the riverfront.

If you think I am kidding, look in the bottom right of the photo from the DRIC road website.

All he got that was important according to DRIC was some green space. Impressive! As mini-Gord wrote, it was a complete and total capitulation by the Mayor:

  • "Battle over Greenlink declared over

    GreenLink is dead...

    The deal is intended to conclude all talks regarding the controversial, $1.8-billion Windsor-Essex Parkway, including the city’s insistence that the province build “Greenlink,” its concept for a highway with 1,000 more metres of roadway buried under concrete and landscaping.

    Under the terms of the deal confirmed in both Windsor and Queen’s Park, no additional covering or so-called “tunneling” will be added to the below-grade parkway, which had been a key demand made by Francis."

Even mini-Gord was disgusted at first blush so it had to be bad. Of course, I am sure you read what he wrote after a good night's sleep!

If you want to see how badly Edgar lost, go to the Greenlink website:

Ooops, it is gone too just like the Greenlink banner in the Council Chambers.

Now the sycophants will proclaim an Edgar victory. But they can be ignored because he lost big time.

Reasonable people might think that Edgar should be congratulated for doing a good job and getting us more money. Except he MUST stop misleading people with the $300M solution already. That sum money had NOTHING to do with DRIC and Edgar knows it.

On the face of it that is true. All the fights and arguments as the parties would like us to believe except Sandra gave it away in the Star video when she said in answer to whether the "feud was overblown:"

  • "it has been blown out of proportion because people do not see is that despite that we do not agree on the methodology we agree on where it is we want to go... There has been dialogue all along. There has never been a point where we have not been talking... What the public sees and what actually goes on often are not the same, often they are."

Do you see, it was all a show, a drama, an opiate for the masses. Nothing was going to happen until 2010 or after. Schwartz, full tunnelling, Greenlink, son of Greenlink, grandson of Greenlink, judicial review threats were all time wasters, stall tactics, delaying mechanisms, part of pretending.

No one can forget the Gong show performance by Ministers Duncan and Caplan that completely ignored Sandra as if she never existed. Laugh until you cry at the "support" claim given to Schwartz's plan as I Blogged:

  • "You remember the last time they performed in Windsor in May, 2005. Their act was the talk of the town for days and days. No one could believe that Ministers could be that foolish:

    "The province has committed $800 million to border infrastructure in the Windsor-Detroit corridor between now and 2013 following the recommendations of the Schwartz Report.

    Ontario Infrastructure Renewal Minister David Caplan made the surprise announcement Wednesday at Energy Minister Dwight Duncan's constituency office.

    "The McGuinty government is fully supportive of the vision and investments recommended in the report by Sam Schwartz," said Caplan, who made the announcement on the same day he announced a five-year investment of $30 billion in the province's infrastructure.

    "There is a commitment," Caplan said.

    "There is total support. We're totally in."

    Now I can remember just howling at that funny last line at the time, It was so absurd that no one could have taken them seriously. But the boys topped it off the next day with something even wilder if you can believe it:

    "Ontario infrastructure minister David Caplan apologized Thursday for revealing a closed-door government decision to spend $500 million beyond 2010 for new infrastructure to fix Windsor's border problems.

    The funding was announced by Caplan and MPP Dwight Duncan (L -- Windsor-Tecumseh) late Wednesday in a hastily arranged news conference inside Duncan's cramped constituency office...

    MPP Sandra Pupatello (L -- Windsor West), who was not present for the announcement, said Caplan was in Windsor for a private party function with Duncan when he decided to speak to the media about Renew Ontario...

    The announcement should have been made in a more formal setting and through Premier Dalton McGuinty, she said.

    "Minister Caplan regretted it and apologized this morning," Pupatello said...

    A day after the revelation of what he called his "big secret," Duncan was said by his spokeswoman Thursday to be too busy to talk."

And then more proof from a Transportation Minister who came and went like a ship in the night:

  • Buses, trains set campaign in motion

    Transportation Minister revealed truth behind announcement when she said, 'Now let's get elected and get on with it!'

    KAREN HOWLETT, Globe and Mail, June 16, 2007

    Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's vision to build transit systems snaking through the Greater Toronto Area has all the earmarks of a campaign goodie…

    In fact, it was Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield who let the cat out of bag at the end of the event held at a Mississauga bus garage when she said, "Now, let's get elected and get on with it!"

    Money for the project, announced out of the blue yesterday, will not begin flowing until 2010 - which is why there was no mention of it in this year's budget, a senior Liberal source said."

So you see, I cannot congratulate people who have been trying to fool me for years and who have put a huge strain and pressure on families, especially those within the area of mass destruction.

I cannot praise people who wasted almost 7 years of our time and who effectively let people suffer because this road project was not started years before. Many of the job losses, foreclosures, business closings might have been avoided if the project had already been started and created thousands of highpaying and spinoff jobs. We would have our new economic development future just waiting for us too. Instead we keep waiting for something to happen.

If anyone really cared, then mini-Gord would not have been able to say:

  • "no additional covering or so-called “tunneling” will be added to the below-grade parkway, which had been a key demand made by Francis."

But Edgar will probably run again. As the Star story makes clear with the details about his salary, where else can he get such a highpaying job with all of the travel perks that rewards miserable failure so highly.

What was the price of the DRIC road compromise? I'll let Gord have the final words from comments made a few years ago:

1) For Dwight, outside of Windsor, to feed his Liberal leadership candidacy:

  • "In the near future, said Duncan, the DRIC (Detroit River International Crossing) study team will roll out its assessment of the city's $1.7-billion GreenLink border plan, which involves extensive tunnelling, and determine how much of it might be used. Then he drew a Liberal red line in the sand: "Let me be clear. We will move forward and get a shovel in the ground next year."

    To my ears, it was a clear, unvarnished warning to Windsor to get the hell out of the way because the Dalton Gang will be firing up the bulldozers and coming through -- rolling right down Huron Church Road -- like it or not.

    That fits with what I was told a couple of weeks ago by a transportation lobbyist with solid Queen's Park connections. He said Duncan sees an opportunity here to demonstrate unflinching resolve, a much-admired leadership quality, by crushing resistance in his own backyard and bringing a pesky foe, Mayor Eddie Francis, to his knees."

2) For Edgar, within Windsor, for his next campaign:

  • "Francis called this "divide-and-conquer" tactic "dirty pool," but he's been wielding a big cue of his own recently, with an advertising blitz promoting GreenLink and targeting Duncan and cabinet mate Sandra Pupatello. By default or design, the campaign has also bolstered the image of Francis, laying the foundation for a third mayoral term or a run for a provincial or federal seat."

I'll wager you won't find this kind of information on AM 800. No wonder they are so jealous of Bloggers!