Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, April 24, 2010

BLOGextra: Michigan P3 Bureaucrats Plan State Government Putsch (Part I)

It was to be a quiet and bloodless coup d'état started in a Michigan House Committee. Clearly, Michigan bureaucrats as seen from their performance in other DRIC hearings were not smart enough to plot this out by themselves. They needed expert help to circumvent legislation and the Legislature.

The mainstream Michigan media were absent from the proceedings so few knew of the plot except for those who read the subscription legislative news services in Lansing. Who goes to hearings anyway? Even the Representatives were not fully up to speed. Clearly they missed some of my P3 BLOGs:
  • "Everyone seemed to be in agreement at the House Transportation Committee that so-called Public Private Partnerships regarding making infrastructure investments are a good idea -- except maybe if they apply to a new Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC)."

  • "There is unanimous support for the Department of Transportation having the authority to create partnerships for private financing of infrastructure projects - as long as the Detroit River International Crossing is not one of those projects."
Who gives a damn what the Legislature wants. MDOT rules Michigan. A DRIC exception---after they worked so hard. No way!

I erred before. I did not go far enough. Now I know why MDOT really wants P3 legislation. So they can do a deal with Canada. On their own. Without oversight. No wonder the financial side of the Wilbur Smith Report has never been released. The Legislature would go ballistic when they see the real cost and the subsidies or guarantees required.

For what reward, easy---money for 243 postponed MDOT road and bridge projects once Canada pays MDOT $100M for road connections as a nice gift for helping them out. The proposed Legislation provides for gift-giving too. The $84M is then freed up.
  • "The subject of DRIC was touched upon when Rep. Marty KNOLLENBERG (R-Troy) asked why the state wanted to lead off with the largest possible project (DRIC).

    "The answer to me is why not?" Gonzales said. "If we used your perspective, the Mackinac Bridge would have never been built."

    Dan STAMPER, president of the Ambassador Bridge Company, said his firm was generally in support of P3s but argued the legislation needed to be amended to exclude P3s in the Detroit/Windsor corridor.

    Rep. Coleman YOUNG (D-Detroit) also asked whether the Legislature would have another vote on DRIC beyond HB 4961. When DeCook said "no, this was it," Opsommer added that "this will be the final discussion because MDOT will have control over all the P3s."

Here's how easily a multi-billion project like DRIC can be done which could bankrupt the State. There are about a dozen projects that could be P3ed in addition to DRIC costing multi-billions. The proposed legislation says this:

  • Sec. 6a. The director may do the following:

    (i) Enter into public-private agreements under section 7b with the approval of the Commission.
  • Sec. 7. (1) The Commission's powers and duties shall include:

    (c) Approval or disapproval of public-private agreements entered into by the department under section 7b.

And to make it perfectly clear:

  • Sec. 7d. (3) Subject to approval from the Commission and compliance with applicable federal laws, the department has exclusive authority to determine where and whether to establish a transportation facility authorized by a public-private agreement and the scope and nature of the facility.

Done. That's it. The DRIC boondoggle moves forward on whatever terms MDOT wants and with whomever MDOT wants and no legislative oversight as you shall read in my (Part II) BLOG:

  • Sec. 7b. (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the department may enter into a public-private agreement with a private entity or with a private entity and 1 or more other instrumentalities of Government.

Here's how to accept a nice gift from Canada too:

  • Sec. 7f (4) The department may accept from any source, and use for supporting a transportation facility authorized by a public-private partnership, any grant, donation, gift, or other form of conveyance of land, money, other real or personal property, or other item of value. A transportation facility authorized by a public-private agreement may be financed in whole or in part by contribution of any funds or property made by any person or entity.

I thought a law had been passed during the Budget debate that required MDOT to appear in front of the Legislature to get permission to move forward with DRIC. Wasn't it this:

  • MDOT Budget authorization dealing with how MDOT may deal with DRIC:

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

Who needs to do this now? All that the Governor's Department, MDOT, needs to do is to go to the Governor appointed Commission to get approval of its deal. Now that's a NO-BRAINER!

As I Blogged before respecting the RFPOI:

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

Heck, MDOT has just told the Legislature to FO!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Michigan P3s: Do The Math

Let's get down to it. Follow the money. That's what's important to taxpayers in the end.

Honestly, I just do not understand the need for P3s. It is all BS since the economic meltdown meant that private firms are having a great deal of difficulty in raising money, even suggesting that Governments do it for them! Can you believe that? What purpose do the Wall St. bankers serve now? They are not engineers or contractors but strictly money boys who want big fees and obscene profits.

As a commentary on what the Ontario Auditor General said in an analysis of an Ontario P3 hospital deal stated:

  • "To P3 or not P3, that is the question.

    Public-private partnerships (P3s) are an increasingly popular method for financing the construction of public works projects, from sewage systems through to hospitals.

    But a recent report by the Auditor General of Ontario should give pause.

    Auditor General Jim McCarter examined in detail the deal that saw a private consortium build Brampton Civic Hospital and lease it back to the province.

    Using the ever-cautious words of an accountant, his bottom line was: "Our work indicated that the all-in cost could well have been lower if the government had built the hospital itself."

    Put more bluntly: Taxpayers got screwed."

After all, there is a reality as would exist with the DRIC bridge as the A-G stated:

  • "Our review of available information suggested that only a limited number of construction contractors in the province are able or willing to undertake a project of this size. The same construction companies would be involved in the bidding and work regardless of whether WOHC followed the traditional procurement or P3 approach."

That is why P3s are ludicrous. Similar contractors would be used. The only difference is the huge P3 financing fees and profits.

Some simple math should demonstrate why a P3 makes no sense. Why are taxpayers asked to pay the burden on a deal where there are no tolls to be paid (the DRIC road in Ontario) and why do the profits of the P3 go to the P3 Wall Street financiers (or the equivalent street in other countries)?

  • Example 1---Cost of the $2B DRIC bridge project financed the traditional way using Government bonds at say 5% for 40 years

    Summary (in millions of dollars)
    Principal borrowed: $2,000,000.00
    Annual Payments: 1 Total Payments: 40 (40.00 years)
    Annual interest rate: 5.00% Periodic interest rate: 5.0000%
    Regular Payment amount: $116556.32 Final Balloon Payment: $0.00
    Annual Debt Service Constant: 5.8278%
    Minimum amortizing payment for this Principal and Interest rate: $100,000.01

    The following results are estimates which do not account for values being rounded to the nearest cent. See the amortization schedule for more accurate values.

    Total Repaid: $4,662,252.80
    Total Interest Paid: $2,662,252.80
    Interest as percentage of Principal: 133.113%

  • Example 2---Cost of the $2B DRIC bridge project financed the P3 way using a rate of return on investment of 16.5% (miday between 13-20% as the going rate for toll roads) for 40 years. (Note I would expect that the principal amount of a P3 would be higher as well as the P3 operator has to build in contingencies, maintenance, etc)

    Summary (in millions of dollars)
    Principal borrowed: $2,000,000.00
    Annual Payments: 1 Total Payments: 40 (40.00 years)
    Annual interest rate: 16.50% Periodic interest rate: 16.5000%
    Regular Payment amount: $330,735.26 Final Balloon Payment: $0.00
    Annual Debt Service Constant: 16.5368%
    Minimum amortizing payment for this Principal and Interest rate: $330,000.01

    The following results are estimates which do not account for values being rounded to the nearest cent. See the amortization schedule for more accurate values.

    Total Repaid: $13,229,410.40
    Total Interest Paid: $11,229,410.40
    Interest as percentage of Principal: 561.471%
The difference in financing costs alone ($11.2-$2.7) is about $8.5B

Yes, that is right, $8.5 billion of taxpayers' money!

Why? For what reason? How can this rip-off be justified?

Let us do a third example, financing the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project. I will take a slightly higher interst rate--7%-- for this financing since it is private not Government. I also assume that $500M would be borrowed

What I am interested in here is the annual paydown cost (in millions of dollars): $37504.57

This annual amount of $37.5M compares with the DRIC traditional Governmental bond cost of $116.5M and $330.7M for a DRIC P3.

Please explain to me how the DRIC bridge can compete with the Ambassador Bridge with about 3.1 to 8.9 times higher financing cost. Then tell me who would ever use the DRIC bridge if their tolls would have to cover the actual costs as MDOT claims! I can just hear OTA's David Bradley now!

I am sure that the math is much more complex than this in putting together a P3 proposal but I would assume that my numbers are in the ballpark. After all the BC failed Port Mann Bridge project when taken over by the Government was projected to cost a billion dollars less using the same contractors as Macquarie would have used.

Once the math is done, and no one seems to want to do it in all of the articles praising P3s, why would anyone want one? Not me as a taxpayer.

Windsor Oddities

The stories, not people.


I have to admit that I thought at first that it might have been a smart idea. I bet Sandra thought of it because of her visit to the Paris Air show:
  • "Pupatello said she was at the Paris Air Show last year when she saw Windsor's Red Bull event being profiled on a French television.

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

I am not talking about the millions just to hold the race. Rather this:

  • "Red Bull air races to be used to promote Ontario's aerospace industry

    While world-class pilots are roaring across local skies this June, much of the most important work during the Red Bull Air Races will happen on the ground.

    With the provincial government providing $250,000 in funding, the Ontario Aerospace Council will be staging On the Wings of Innovation June 4 to 6, an event designed to bring together representatives of leading global aerospace companies with Ontario manufacturers seeking to diversify their customer base by entering the aerospace supply chain."

The reason why I am a bit jaded on all of this spending is this announcement:

  • "Porter to begin flights to Moncton

    MONCTON, N.B.—Porter Airlines says it will introduce service between Ottawa and Toronto to Moncton, N.B., starting June 25."

And this

  • "Porter Airlines expands service

    Fast-growing Porter Airlines said Thursday it is expanding service on the Eastern Triangle routes, running between Toronto and Montreal, and Toronto and Ottawa."

And this:

  • "Island airline’s new terminal paves way for expansion
    Toronto Island airline plans increased service to American cities

    Toronto’s once-sleepy island airport is going to get a lot busier.

    More passengers, more flights and more destinations are planned for Porter Airlines, which unveiled the first phase of its new $50 million terminal Monday, marking the latest step in the burgeoning company’s ongoing expansion...

    Buoyed by rapid growth amid overall declines in the aviation industry, Porter has expanded from serving two cities in 2006, to more than 10 today, with two more destinations already on the schedule: seasonal flights to Myrtle Beach, S.C., will start Sunday, and daily service to Sudbury will begin March 31.

    Service to Washington and Philadelphia are also planned for the near future, with at least one of the cities likely to be on Porter’s schedule sometime this year, Deluce said, adding that flights to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit “and more destinations closer to home” are in the airline’s longer-term plans."

Detroit and not Windsor. Now you will understand why I think spending a quarter million for a booze-up to make flyers high is a waste of money:

  • "Airline to get VIP treatment; City to woo Porter during air race

    Mayor Eddie Francis is crossing his fingers that next week's Red Bull Air Race attracts more in the way of airborne interest than just the zippy little fixed-wing racers that will be flitting up and down the Detroit River.

    Porter Airlines, the popular small outfit that makes its name from a downtown-to-downtown air passenger service, has been chartered by Red Bull to fly in the VIP guests from Toronto and Montreal to the Windsor races next week, said Francis.

    Windsor Airport has been wooing Porter for almost two years to have the Rose City added to its flight schedule, so expect the red carpet treatment not only for the Red Bull passengers but also for the Porter pilots and flight crew.

    "I'm excited ... just to have their plane land on Windsor's runway -- I call it a good test run," said Francis, who chairs the airport board.

    He said a chief selling point will be to show how efficiently passengers and even large commercial aircraft can be handled just a few minutes from a major American city. Porter made its name as a quick and inexpensive downtown-to-downtown service, and Francis said Windsor already provides the world's only international city transit service, with municipal bus routes that connect downtown Detroit to Windsor's airport."


It was Earth Day on the 22nd. I know I am a bit late for Earth Hour but...

Do you watch Council? Do you believe that Earth Hours happens most Monday nights during the time while Council meetings take place, even without a proclamation. The Council seems to be in the dark on most big issues:

  • "This year Earth Hour takes place Saturday between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.

    Mayor Eddie Francis asked all Windsorites to participate.

    “I urge all citizens to turn off their lights for one hour on March 27 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and demonstrate how easy it is to make changes to their everyday behaviour."

Perhaps if Council turned on their lights, their behaviour could change.


Let's outsource everything. A great idea out of Germany via the New York Times. Is that the real reason Edgar (aka Eddie) has flown to Germany so many times:

  • "A week later, though, I saw a television report on Niederzimmern, a German village where citizens can sponsor pothole repairs after this year’s especially cold winter. For a $68 contribution, they get their name embossed, over the town crest, on a patch of new asphalt...

    With a few tweaks, New York could have its own sponsor-a-pothole program...

    In New York, potholes are like pets — requiring constant care over years and years — so our program would mean almost literally adopting a patch of road. It would also come with a slightly higher price tag than in Niederzimmern: filling a New York pothole costs about $30; new asphalt every 18 months for 15 years would cost $300.

    But the idea of such a commitment contains the germ of a viable educational plan for New York: call it Pick-a-Pothole, a citywide civic investment program.

    In Niederzimmern one contributes to a fund; in New York you would get to choose a hole to sponsor. Rather than a brick for your child’s school, why not pay to repair the hole that swallows your stroller tire, with a personal marker in the pavement to recognize your effort..

    With the budget deficit rising, new methods for the city’s upkeep need to be explored. At the same time, New Yorkers seem more willing to invest in their communities than ever before. And we have a mayor consumed by the same issues that would motivate a pothole adoption program, including metrics, education and sustainability."

Quick, call Gridlock Sam for advice.


There is little hope for our airport. Why not just say it's the excuse to upgrade E C Row to 10 lanes and get on with it! Surely that was discussed as Sandra's killer quiche was being served.

I hope that no one from the Opposition reads this BLOG after Sandra gave $200K to Lufthansa because Windsor Airport could be a Transportation Hub. Mind you, that is probably a bit less than her travel bill for the Paris Air Show.

  • "The MPP for Windsor West said the local airport is “ideally situated” to be transformed into a regional air cargo hub, and she announced Friday that Windsor is getting $200,000 to study the proposal in greater detail."

She cannot be serious after seeing these stats: Windsor is 39 out of 42 airports across Canada. Now you definitely know that the money is being paid so Edgar has a reason to justify upgrading E C Row.

We were one of Porter's proposed routes at one time. I am not sure if we are now and if they are more interested in the larger market in Detroit. Perhaps Porter won't come here because we have no cash to induce them to do so after paying so much money for a 3-month service from Westjet.

I am told that there were City employees wearing parks and rec tee shirts working - assembling the new WestJet counter. I wonder who is paying their salary to do this--the City, YQG, Westjet?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Canada Should Increase Foreign Aid To Third World Countries And Michigan

The plan really is all about how to prevent another Dubai ports fiasco and to grab any opportunity one can to accomplish that goal.

Clearly "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" is the new DRIC mantra but for a measly $100M that Michigan has to spend for traffic connections for the DRIC bridge. That money cannot be around if MDOT could not afford $84M for 243 road and bridge projects and had to postpone them, costing the Michigan economy about 10,000 jobs.

The concern is, if Canada, a foreign country remember, tries to get control of key land border crossings into and out of the United States either through buying them directly or P3ing them through a "friendly" investor. The issue to avoid is clear:
  • "Various United States political figures argued that the takeover [of the US ports by a state-owned company in the UAE] would compromise U.S. port security."

But of course, no one can outthink a bureaucrat in developing plans to outsmart the public and more importantly, Legislators both State and Congressional. Read on.

Canada is always there to help out the less fortunate. After devastation in a country whether due to flood, earthquake, hurricane or famine, the Canadian Government and Canadians have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid worldwide to help the people in a country after a catstrophe or natural disaster. Even with our own economic woes, we have contributed money overseas.

We do try to be smart in how we do things however. There is always a reason for our generosity. As part of our Foreign Aid Policy

  • "The Canadian government has announced it will steer foreign aid toward a smaller number of places around the world -- 20 countries or regions where it hopes to have a bigger impact."

I expect that Michigan will be one of those places to receive Canadian aid and very shortly too, say before the Michigan Legislators vote on P3s or DRIC in May/June.

We pay out about $5B per year to help others, about what a DRIC project would cost.

We need not look too far to who might need our help. With one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States, the State of Michigan is verging on Third World status under Governor Granholm. Thank goodness she is term limited and a new Governor comes into office soon. There is merit in such an electoral system!

Detroit as an example has thousands of homes that the City wants to tear down to eliminate blight. Why the numbers are almost as high as cities who have been hit by an attack of Mother Nature. Curiously, Windsor wants to keep blighted homes standing using anti-demolition by-laws to do so especially if the applicant is the Ambassador Bridge Company.

Take unemployment. I have seen stories with numbers like these:

  • "Officially, Detroit's unemployment rate is just under 30 percent. But the city's mayor and local leaders are suggesting a far more disturbing figure -- the actual jobless rate, they say, is closer to 50 percent."

In this time of need, Canada needs to step up to help out our good neighbour. I know that Canada does not want to increase the amount spent on foreign aid but the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, needs to do some creative thinking to assist Michigan.

I have heard a rumour of an idea like this being bandied around the braintrust in the DRIC camp. It is to make Canada the nice guys while really undermining the Americans.

The PM is in deep doo-doo over DRIC. His secret mandate letter to buy the Ambassador Bridge really hurt his credibility by suggesting that the DRIC process was a phony and completely undercut Michigan.

To earn some good-will and to help him in taking over the Ambassador Bridge, his real objective, there is talk of starting up a Charitable Foundation to help out Michigan. It is to be called "Take a Michigander out to Lunch" Fund. The Government and Canadians will be asked to be generous to our close American friend across the border.

As an example, we expect that the bakery lady in Sandwich could deliver boxes of her famous brownies as part of the campaign to feed hungry souls across the river in Delray since she and the other Windsor politicos and West Enders are so concerned about their future. After all, if they cannot eat Sandwiches, then let them eat brownies!

While brownies help, the real need is for money in Michigan. Millions and millions of dollars. About $100M worth.

The compelling reason that will be presented is that the recent DRIC meeting in Detroit has saddened the heart of the Prime Minister. As one leader to another, he would be shown as having empathy with the Michigan Governor whose State is so short of funds it does not have $84 million to help pay for 243 road and bridge projects in Michigan which may now have to be postponed for years. That means that about 10,000 people per year will not have jobs since the number of projects will be less.

The Prime Minister will be shown as thrilled to learn that the DRIC Project would create 10,000 jobs. He won't remark on the similarity of numbers between the two job losses and job gains. He must be aware that it seems that MDOT is holding back on the $84M so it can fund DRIC in the short-term. He can do the math showing that the net result in the increase in jobs is ZERO.

Of course, he was glad that no one figured out that the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project would also create a substantial number of new jobs. That would have spoiled the fun at the rah-rah-rah DRIC meeting. He was not really surprised that that no one at the media conference or in the media itself mentioned the fact that both projects would create work for Michiganders. I am certain that he must have thought it was a mere oversight on the part of MDOT the way they seem to forget a number of matters with respect to the border file.

In any event, the PM knows that Michigan had to find $100 million in order to finance road connections for the DRIC project and he also knows that they may not have the cash for it and the 243 projects. They need about $184M now for both.

The Legislators around the State will be furious when they find out that their local road or bridge won't be fixed up to help out Canada. I think that this was the first time that I had ever heard that State money was needed for the DRIC project. Up until now, it was always toll payers who would pick up the tab.

It makes a mockery of this latest pro DRIC piece:

What will tax money be needed for: investor guarantees?

On the one hand, money will be needed later; on the other hand it will never be needed. Can't they make up their mind within the same document for heaven's sake!

MDOT's Captain Kirk claimed that the money would come back once the P3 project was implemented, meaning he needed money now. However there could be a substantial lag, especially if no one wanted to bid on the project between the time when the money was required and when the P3 investor gave Michigan that the money. Sure we are talking only about the time value of money, whatever that expression means, but when you are in a State like Michigan which is in a very bad financial state, that time lag can be a killer financially.

Of course, no one who would be asked to contribute to the Charitable Foundation would ever think of asking why it was necessary to build in another location and spend $100 million on traffic connections. After all, a mile or so down the road, money had been spent on the Ambassador Gateway project to do the same thing. It just cost Michigan and the Federal Government a couple of hundred million dollars. But it is like that with the poor, they just don’t know how to budget their money properly. They spend and spend and spend and max out their credit line. That is why they get into such a bad situation.

The idea will be to collect money and then use that money to help Michigan fund $100 million for the DRIC project. It would be unlikely that the American Federal Government would contribute much after Secretary Clinton made very clear that she had no interest in the Canada/US border considering the problems she is looking into with respect to the Mexican situation

It probably would be expected to raise money from corporations like P3 investors, rich lawyers and consultants and engineers.

I can just picture in my mind all the well-known Canadian music stars getting together, and leaving their egos at the door, singing a specially created song to be shown on MTV and MuchMusic to raise funds for Michiganders. Just like “We are the World" or "Do They Know It's Christmas." If only Canada's Pamela Anderson had not divorced Kid Rock of Detroit, she could have been the poster girl for this.

Of course I am fooling about the charity. Let's be real. It will be necessary for the Government of Canada to put in money.

Some may question why Canada should be helping a US State if Americans won’t do it but that is being very petty.

Some may question why Canada and Canadian taxpayers should be sending out money from Canada when we can use the money in this country for those people who have been disadvantaged here. An example is people in Windsor. They remain unemployed while our Mayor is still studying how to fly them out West to the high-paying jobs and bring them back on weekends. It has only been an eternity when he started his thought process on the subject.

Anyway, a precedent was set when Infrastructure Ontario was prepared to pay some money for the Tunnel deal. Nobody has chosen to disclose the sum yet, probably because it is substantially less than the $75 million required. In this case, money would have been paid from the City of Windsor to the City of Detroit to help them out in their budgetary difficulties.

What is the difference? There is none. Money for the Tunnel, money for the DRIC project…it is all part of the Canadian Game plan anyway to help force the owner of a Bridge Company to sell out at a cheap amount.

I know Michiganders are proud and would not want to accept Canadian charity. I expect that they would not take the money freely but only as a loan to be paid back. In any event, Canada would really give the money only as a loan.

And that would be a very smart move.

I Blogged before that the Windsor's Tunnel deal was a dry-run for something more important even though it was not completed. It did NOT raise too much of a fuss in Washington so it probably gave Ottawa a bit of a boost.

Here is my thought. The Tunnel deal was designed to fail almost immediately financially. The precedent was developed for the Tunnel deal whereby Windsor would have defaulted on the transaction such that Canada or someone favorable to Canada who was the lender would have taken over the Tunnel. The obvious reason for that is that any P3 operator wants a monopoly in an area and would need to control the price of tolls at the Tunnel.

I would expect that the same thing would happen in Michigan. There could well be a nudge- nudge deal with Michigan saying that is not necessary for the State to pay back the money. Canada would take a debenture on some assets for their hundred million dollars---perhaps a charge on the DRIC bridge project itself. When the loan defaulted, Canada or its P3 partner would take over the project.

While charity does begin at home, in this case this is not charity but a shrewd political and business maneuver for Canada to control the border crossing in Windsor/Detroit. More importantly, from a political perspective, Canada gets control of the Tunnel and the Bridge without anyone being the wiser. It is merely a typical loan gone sour situation in which Canada is acting to protect itself rather than what some might think it to be: another Dubai ports incident.

The U.S. Congress would be too worried about other matters to know what happened here and by the time they did, it would be too late. The people involved in Michigan would not have to worry much either. IBG…YBG.

See what I mean. It is sooooooo clever. Michiganders should be warned:

"Beware of Canadians bearing gifts!"

Anonymity On The Web

Some foolish people in the past who clearly have no understanding of the law have alleged that what I write is NOT a BLOG because I do not allow "comments" to be freely made on my BLOGsite. I am not sure where that so-called "definition" of what a BLOG is came from but who cares. As I have written before, this is a recipe for disaster if people choose to malign others in my Comments section.

I have no intention to risk being sued to please the ego of some anonymous poster with a hidden agenda.

Such action was tried when I first started Blogging as a deliberate effort to either close me down early on or to discredit my site. I would have none of it.

Accordingly, I chose NOT to allow people to comment but invited them to email me and I would post what they wrote provided that it was "acceptable" legally. I thought that this was a good compromise.

I am told by a few of my readers that some nasty people are writing terrible things about me on certain websites believing that I cannot track them down even if anonymous. So foolish. If that is how they get their jollies, I pity them. It is good for my ego to think I am that important, to them!

It is soooo easy to find out who they are in most cases if I wanted to do so. This court case should help explain and be a warning as well. Its reasoning goes well beyond newspaper sites:
  • Watch what you say: Court orders newspaper to identify anonymous commentators

    A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge says Internet anonymity shouldn't be a shield for legal actions and has ordered a newspaper and Google Inc. to provide the identities of people who posted comments about Halifax's top firefighters.

    The newspaper and Google said they would comply.

    Fire Chief Bill Mosher and Deputy Chief Stephen Thurber are considering a defamation lawsuit against people who posted comments they say were defamatory on the website of the Coast, a weekly alternative newspaper.

    The comments were in a discussion forum hosted by the Coast and were related to stories published in the paper about racism in the fire department. No defamation suit is being contemplated about the articles themselves.

    The firefighters are also considering a lawsuit against the author of emails sent through a Gmail account.

    Justice Heather Robertson of Nova Scotia Supreme Court swiftly granted the uncontested application Wednesday, noting the Internet shouldn't provide any cover from legal actions.

    Robertson said the court doesn't "condone the conduct of anonymous Internet users who make defamatory comments."

    "They, like other people, have to be accountable for their actions."

    Robertson cited an Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision last year where Bell Canada and Rogers were ordered to provide to York University identifying information of anonymous people who allegedly wrote defamatory emails.

    The editor of the Coast, Kyle Shaw, said comments were taken off the website as soon as Mosher's lawyers informed the paper that the fire chief found them offensive and defamatory. An apology was also posted on the site.

    Shaw said the paper will comply with the court order and provide the names and email addresses, as well as any Internet protocol addresses - identifying numbers for the Internet connections to a computer - once it receives a formal request from the firefighters' lawyer.

    A lawyer for Google has said the company will also comply with the court order to provide information about a person using the Gmail address.

    Shaw, the 37-year-old co-founder of the Coast, says while he's willing to provide the identities, he won't change a policy that allows people to remain anonymous while posting their views on the website.

    He said the policy allows other commentators to notify website editors if inappropriate comments are made, and that editors can then decide whether to remove the comment.

    "We have a free-wheeling and wide-ranging and topically open conversation on our site. It doesn't mean it's wide open. It doesn't mean we don't ban people," he said outside court.

    "We don't want to have to check every comment."

    Having to monitor every comment would require more resources and reduce the rapid flow of comments, Shaw said.

    "It's the manpower, it's the timeliness. What would the manpower be? You'd have to have lawyers on staff," he said.

    "This is why we have mechanisms in place encouraging the community to raise flags when they see problems."

    He said he views the Internet as a unique medium, where comments flow more freely and self-regulation is the norm. He said his staff carefully vet letters to the editor for the newspaper because they are more permanent and difficult to remove if objections are raised.

    But Michelle Awad, the lawyer for the firefighters, said her clients consider the online posts to be serious enough to warrant a libel action.

    "The reputations of the applicants are worthy of protection ... They're seeking to procure a remedy for the damage that they believe has been done," she said.

    She has said she believes the case raises important ethical issues for the media on a widespread policy allowing anonymous and unvetted commentary.

    Most of Canada's largest media outlets allow people to post comments under aliases, but there are varying policies on whether each comment is seen before it is posted.

    Jeff Keay, a spokesman for the CBC, said the public broadcaster allows anonymous comments on their website, but every post is viewed by a staff member and can be referred to for legal review if necessary.

    Many other news websites allow people to post comments without oversight, and only remove them after complaints are registered with a website editor.

    Kenny Yum, editor of, said the site moderates postings that readers flag as inappropriate.

    "We review thousands of them every month," he said in an email. "We have clear guidelines and every reader is asked to register with us before they are allowed to comment."

    Yum said the decision in Nova Scotia doesn't change the Globe and Mail's stance on website comments as "we based our policy on industry-best practices, which have evolved through the years."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

DRIC and Political Cynicism

Is this how we justify it, rationalize it and think nothing more about it? Is this what selling out all comes down to and how it is praised and sold as a marvellous accomplishment? Is it really only about the money, not people? The end justifies the means.
  • "Bit by bit, this warming relationship bore fruit. It brought millions in provincial funding for Red Bull air races. It brought huge provincial contributions (matching the feds) that helped make Windsor's massive infrastructure program the largest per capita in all of Canada. And in the end it brought Windsor a border fix that's a huge improvement on the status quo as well as a job creator other hard-pressed Canadian cities would kill for.

    At $78 million and counting in negotiated extras for Windsor, that was some quiche.

It does not matter what is done no matter how dishonest, how disgraceful or how hurtful as long as we get the right result.

But here is something for you to consider, how do we know that the result is "right" and that what is being done is not being carried out for some ulterior motive that will profit someone at all of our expense and to all of our detriment in the long term? How can we trust those who tell us that we got the best result when they have deceived us until now?

When I was younger and more naïve, I wanted to be Prime Minister of Canada. I was deeply involved in politics in my University days at the federal and provincial levels and in University party politics.

I was excited by the clash of ideas, my party’s views being the correct ones of course. What I and my friends were doing was for the good of the country, about our future. Until reality sunk in.

To make a long story short, I became disenchanted very quickly about the nature of politics and my dreams of leading the country vanished. Until STOPDRTP. That is where I became General Counsel of the group and got involved in municipal politics, the place where an individual really can count in our society and does have a role that directly impacts people.

That is how I met Edgar (aka Eddie) for the first time and when he asked me to be part of his campaign team to change the nature of politics in this City. I fell for his pitch hook, line and sinker to be blunt about it and have regretted my involvement with him for years now. My only excuse is that I am not the only one who has been fooled by our “non-politician.”

This is a rather personal introduction to what I wanted to write about today. It is no wonder that people are cynical about politicians. Sandra let the the cat out of the bag during the press conference about the DRIC road when she said:

  • "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."

Here is what a municipal political insider told me respecting Edgar and judicial review and how Bill Marra was slammed when he suggested negotiating not litigating:

  • "the breakfast meeting that took place at Sandra's place occurred immediately after a Windsor Star Story that reported on an in-camera session at which time there was a shouting match between Marra and other members of council. It was the story that suggested Lewenza came after Marra with threatening language, which was in fact quite true at the time. As you may recall, it was when Bill publicly stated that he did not agree with the rest of council re: a legal strategy, i.e. judicial review, against the province re: the border and he publicly spoke about pursuing other negotiating alternatives...."

Remember what the Star story said in early 2008, the same time-frame Gord described in his Saturday column:

  • "Last week, Marra spoke out against other councillors who had criticized Windsor's two provincial cabinet ministers, Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan, for not supporting the city's GreenLink border plan.

    Marra said he believed negotiating further with the local MPPs was a better tactic than blasting them."

He was right wasn't he and it really happened but he got hammered for it since it took away from the drama. The truth could not be even hinted at. No wonder Marra has had to be discredited continually!

Even more interesting, if the timeframe is right, the meeting came right after this event described by the Star this way:

  • "Cabinet ministers Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello unveil the Windsor Essex Parkway plan. The city slams the plan. Eddie Francis says council is “pissed” that the DRIC team did not incorporate more elements of Greenlink. Duncan counters the plan calls for the most expensive piece of roadbed in provincial history."

It would seem that Edgar's urinary problem was very short-lived.

Is it any wonder that politicians are viewed so negatively by people? I really don’t understand it. It should be an honourable profession, helping the public, serving the public need, doing the right thing for the good of all. But it is not as Margaret Thatcher’s speechwriter wrote. It is all about power, influence and being re-elected no matter what and no matter what the cost and to whom.

  • "The decisions that really matter to political leaders are those to do with the getting and holding of power. Other decisions may turn out well or ill. They may cost billions of pounds or hundreds of lives, but for enlisted politicians those decisions are secondary. What matters to them is: will I still be here after this?"

The big Detroit Chamber meeting with the Big Guns and Heavy Hitters was all a stage-managed fraud. I wasn’t there, but mini-Gord was:

  • "Friday's news conference was an elaborate bit of political theatre intended to convince Moroun's supporters in Lansing to vote for the public good rather than the preservation of a private empire.

    "You know how things work in the U.S. -- you have to choreograph it," a former Canadian ambassador explained of the performance we witnessed in Detroit on Friday. "They need persuasion, and all this was for that audience up in the legislature."

    Cross your fingers that they liked the show."

It was designed to intimidate Michigan Senator Cropsey and his colleagues who think DRIC is a boondoggle.

Our Mayor was one of the bit players in the cast and did his part to show that Moroun will be stopped--- by the Indian Road homes not being allowed to be demolished perhaps?

Make the script as you go along; improvise, it does not matter. When capacity seems to be the reason for a new bridge as traffic is increasing, then pretend that is why we need a new public bridge. When the numbers decline, then drag out security and redundancy as the rationale. When that doesn’t work, then it is Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.

But it is all a lie…it is to force Matty Moroun out of business so that Prime Minister Harper can buy the bridge more cheaply under the auspices of his secret mandate letter.

Why doesn’t the Prime Minister just come out and say it? We all know it by now. Why is he so afraid to let the public in on the truth?

The truth what is that? If you have read Gord Henderson’s column on Saturday you ought to be sick. I do not care which side you are on respecting the border file. It does not matter. In fact the issue itself does not matter. What is disgusting to me is the way that our three local politicians: Edgar Francis, Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan have acted.

Actually, is not how they have acted that sickens me but rather what they have done to thousands of people within this region. They have deliberately and maliciously fooled us. They have stalled us and delayed when the projects could have been started years ago. At a time when our economy has suffered and people are out of work, when homes are being foreclosed and businesses shut down, they were all acting.

They all ought to be thrown out of office and banished for their actions.

I hate to say it but I did tell you so. The DRIC road debate was a charade. Nothing was supposed to happen until 2010 and it did not no matter how bad the economy was in this region with the highest unemployment in Canada. Our politicians just did not care!

As an aside, all of a sudden, Gord makes Sandra the heroine of the piece. Why, is Dwight running for the Liberal leadership and Edgar might take his place provincially? Keep Sandra happy and not being a trouble-maker? As a smart politician, she gets suckered continuously.

The animosity between Edgar and our Cabinet members never existed. Just picture this, Dwight in his nightcap, Edgar in his PJs and Sandra in her nightie serving them her killer bacon and cheese quiche in her home early in the morning as they plotted for years on how to deceive us. What a painting that would be to hang at the Windsor Art Gallery one day.

What is even more disgraceful is that the Windsor Star’s main Columnist thinks it is all terrific. Was the Star itself part of all this, playing its role as the Messenger? I’m afraid I do not know the answer to that question but I do know what its Editor, Marty Beneteau has said in the past:

  • "We did things that newspapers can do to bring about change, positive change. I think we got a lot of results this year and this now validates the results we got."

Look at what Gord is writing about as if it is a badge of honour

  • In early 2008, with the battle between the city's GreenLink proposal and DRIC's Essex-Windsor Parkway plan at a fever pitch and with relations between Mayor Eddie Francis and the city's two provincial cabinet ministers going through an especially rocky patch, Pupatello decided it was time for the trio to sit down, roll up their sleeves and speak their minds, no holds barred, in an attempt to eliminate misunderstandings and mend the relationship. [And how do we know this did not start even earlier? Just because Gord chooses to stake out a particular time-period does not make it so.]

  • "the two Windsor ministers remained gagged and bound with bureaucratic Velcro. There could be no promises made. No commitments. No horse-trading.

    But there could be, and needed to be, a drastic change in the working relationship of Windsor's three most important politicians. They needed to recognize that they were on the same team, the Windsor Team, and had the same objective in mind, the best possible border infrastructure deal that could be carved out for their city.

    "We're going to sit here until we sing Kumbaya if it kills me," Pupatello recalled telling herself as the "Quiche Conference" started off on a stiff, almost brittle, note. But being Windsor-bred politicians, the painful formalities were soon cast aside in favour of honest, unvarnished talk." [What were they doing, exchanging recipes about making quiches and pita breads? Nice job Gord trying to prevent the two Cabinet mmebers from being charged under the Members' Integrity Act!]

  • Team Windsor was on a new footing. [What a telling description! Two years of teamwork against Windsorites]

  • The paranoia and suspicion had lifted. All three understood clearly how important it would be to lower the decibels -- especially at Queen's Park -- and start working together in pursuit of a common objective. [That objective was shown at the DRIC Chamber meeting in Detroit. The deal was done mere days before the meeting so that as mini-Gord told us Canada could be seen to be united and now Michigan had to come onside to beat Moroun]

  • Francis and council gradually moved the border file to the back burner. And dialed down. Diplomacy took over. Dinner meetings, here and in Toronto, replaced soapbox speeches and demonstrations.

    You might have seen Duncan and Francis dining at Caesars. Or Pupatello and Francis breaking bread at El-Mayor on Wyandotte Street. [I wonder whose expense accounts paid for these nice meals. Perhaps taxpayers who lost their jobs while they dined on filet mignon and drank a nice French Bordeaux. Oh, oh, Gord forgot the Dwight/Edgar ride to the airport too. How many meetings and when so that a Members' Integrity Act complaint can now be filed if the Opposition ever gets the nerve! El-Mayor, now that's ironic and it's pita Gord, not bread]

  • The city had good reason to go this co-operative route. It had been warned by its legal advisers that it had only a 50-50 shot at winning a lawsuit and that victory, which could ice the project for a generation, might be worse than defeat. [Wow, all that money and praise for our legal weapon of mass destruction and at best it was 50/50! If we knew that so did the Province's lawyers. Just like with arbitration, Edgar neglected to tell us everything about our legal position. Millions wasted. For what? Those who wanted a settlement were mocked as somehow hurting Windsor when they were right all along.]

  • Bit by bit, this warming relationship bore fruit. [The Americans have a legal theory they call "the fruit from the poisonous tree." I guess this is how Adam felt after eating the apple.]

  • It brought millions in provincial funding for Red Bull air races. It brought huge provincial contributions (matching the feds) that helped make Windsor's massive infrastructure program the largest per capita in all of Canada. And in the end it brought Windsor a border fix that's a huge improvement on the status quo as well as a job creator other hard-pressed Canadian cities would kill for.

    At $78 million and counting in negotiated extras for Windsor, that was some quiche. [It's how things are done children. Lying and cheating are ok as long as you get something out of it. Of course this could never have been negotiated by anyone unless they sold-out but why use such language. I bet Gord thinks that this confession of his will be good for his soul. All that money vs. his stories of our destruction. It worked out so well so we can forgive them all]

Did you see any remorse, anything that he wrote about concerning the suffering of people along the DRIC Road corridor? I guess that he believes that all is fair in love and war and politics to work up the population so that we believe that our health and our children’s health is at risk if this damned DRIC road is ever built in our area.

Actually, Gord should insist that the prize won by Sam Schwartz for Greenlink ought to be given to the DRIC engineers because after all, that is the road that we’re getting in Windsor and the road that we were always getting in Windsor. Or rather, it will be the road until such time as the RFPs come back and the cost of the road escalates into billions. Then all we will need is a cheap DRIC solution and an upgraded EC Row, exactly what the Joint Management Committee wanted years ago.

Why else do you believe that Sandra contributed $200,000 to the Lufthansa study for the Cargo Shanty at the airport. The need to connect the airport to the border and the need for a DRIC detour as Sandra and Dwight mentioned in the past will get Edgar off the hook for his so-called opposition to trucks on E C Row notwithstanding his support of an upgraded expressway years ago. He thinks we have forgotten this:

Gee. this is what we got in these negotiations isn't it along with money for the Tunnel except the words E C Row have NOT been mentioned yet. An election is too close.

Years of opposition to the Provincial Government, nasty words about the Premier and the fight between Edgar and Council and the Province (I wonder if the Councillors had the faintest idea what was going or were they part of of the deception as well so they too should be thrown out of office), threats of lawsuits and judicial reveiw, hours-long presentations at Council by Estrin and Edgar were never real. The “so called almost have a deal but then see it fall apart” columns by Gord after hearing from a provincial government insider are now very suspect. I think it should be obvious who the provincial government Leakor is. He/she should be ashamed.

Not a word about the people who were deceived into attending educational meetings by our Mayor and Council so they could be suckered about Greenlink. Not a word about the thousands of people who are convinced by the Mayor to send in postcards opposing the Provincial road or who phoned in to 311 to express their opposition because they felt that they were doing the right thing for the City. Not a word of apology to all of these people were used and must now feel that they were tricked by our politicians.

Instead, our major newspaper Columnist is thrilled about all this and praises what was done.

  • "Bit by bit, this warming relationship bore fruit. It brought millions in provincial funding for Red Bull air races. It brought huge provincial contributions (matching the feds) that helped make Windsor's massive infrastructure program the largest per capita in all of Canada. And in the end it brought Windsor a border fix that's a huge improvement on the status quo as well as a job creator other hard-pressed Canadian cities would kill for.

    At $78 million and counting in negotiated extras for Windsor, that was some quiche."

I am so glad that I learned about this side of politics years ago and decided that running for Prime Minister was not for me. I do not know how some of our politicians can get up in the morning and look at themselves in the mirror after what they have done. But I guess when you are power-hungry or worse then it does not matter.

All I know is that I could not in good conscience live with myself.

So much for my dream of being PM one day. But who knows, Fate works in mysterious ways. Municipal politics can be so much more rewarding when you are solving real people's real problems. Perhaps being Mayor of some small town might not be so bad after all.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What We Have Here Is Another Failure To Execute

In Windsor, what we have here is a Mayor who can communicate, when it is in his interest to do so, but who cannot execute on the ideas that he communicates. He is afraid to do so.

Want a perfect example? What helped Edgar beat Bill Marra for Mayor: Citistat.

It was a very interesting idea that had been used in Baltimore and spread to many other cities. Its purpose was to help save the City millions of dollars annually. Whatever happened to it and to the savings?

NOTHING: a failure to execute.

If you want to understand Edgar (aka Eddie), then understand that he has mind's eye visions but that he cannot produce. Talk, talk, talk is all that he is good for. He can pretend that he wants to act but he does not dare do so. Like all of those judicial reveiw threats on the DRIC road. Or the canal that may turn into only a transients marina.

You see, he cannot close the deal because then there are measurable objectives against which he can be judged. And if the project, whatever it is, does not measure up, then he can be criticized and blamed. Just like the $70+M arena with only an $800K profit and trying to get Summer Fest there to boost the numbers. Oh don't worry, if the Spits get knocked out early, Edgar has his excuse too for the low return on investment.

These thoughts came to mind when I saw this absurd quote in the Star story:

"Windsor area skilled trades workers on the move
Many still can't find local jobs

When you read his statement in this BLOG , it was at the end of the story so no one would read it, don't choke on your coffee:

  • "I think the fact that people have run out of unemployment and they have bills to pay, they're pretty desperate at this point," said Tony Masciotra, a skilled trades peer counsellor at the CAW-Ford Workers' Adjustment Centre on Walker Road. "I don't know if going out of town is the solution, but I think people aren't very patient at all."

    Some are finding work again in the oil and mining sectors in Western Canada, but there is no major hiring going on, he said. "From where I sit, the recession isn't over yet."

    Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said the city has been contacted by an Alberta oil patch recruiter and an airline that shuttles workers back-and-forth. It will take several months to determine the demand and see if special flights from Windsor can be arranged."

Doesn't it make you sick? Where have we heard that song and dance about studying the issue and lining up an airline before? Gee, this sounds like Edgar's great Jobs scheme years ago to send people out West to work and have them commute to Windsor.

  • “Employees could go to work during the week and come home on the weekends,” Francis said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

    “That would keep their paycheque here and keep their family together. It helps cities out west because they get an immediate supply of labour.”

All that talk with the Mayor of Saskatoon, the commuter airline, the survey to see what people wanted.

Here's what the Mayor said in his speech about his conversations with the Mayors of the Western cities:

  • "Recently, at a meeting of the Big Cities Mayors’ Caucus I spoke with my colleagues about our challenges. And in turn the mayors of Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon told me of their issues and challenges.

    They told me about how there is an ever-increasing labour shortage out west. They need skilled tradespeople, and people to fill any number of construction-related positions...

    So we’ve started to develop a plan. A plan to help long-distance commuters living in Windsor to access jobs that exist today in Western Canada but to keep their roots at home in our community."

What was the result of the Edgar PLAN; he is so good at drawing up plans?

NOTHING: a failure to execute.

So fasten your safety belts, whenever there is an employment problem, expect Edgar to pull out his script again. Just you wait too, he learned from the Michigan DRIC meting, talk about all of the jobs that the DRIC road will produce.

Oh you don't think he will do that. It has happened before:

  • "Did you feel the same way that I did when I read the headline in the Star yesterday about the 19,000 man years of work that Greenlink would produce. Man years mind you, not number of jobs. [I refuse to use person-years]. Do you feel like a jerk to be blunt?

    I could just picture in my mind's eye the Mayor, the Eminence Greasie and their legions of cheerleaders and sycophants laughing at what fools we have been since the Mayor's State of a City speech. How dumb we were to believe that the Mayor's Jobs Today plan was a serious one.

    I wonder also whether the Mayor's colleagues at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities feel the same way when they read what the Mayor just announced. I wonder if the Mayors of Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, and Calgary, think that they have been played as fools the same way Windsorites have been played. But who knows, perhaps they were in on the joke as well.

    Can you believe it, on March 17 the Mayor is preparing to send everybody out of town who was looking for work and then, barely 10 days later, there are jobs, jobs, jobs totaling 19,000 man years in town, working on the City's solution for the border road. No one has to move from Windsor at all now. Hallelujah. We are saved.

    I am not sure if this is the worst case of cynical, political manipulation that I have ever seen but it comes very close to it. I cannot believe that any caring person would play with the lives of so many people this way, all to score a cheap political point for himself and his future career."

BLOGMeister Mail

Here is what my readers are thinking including on the border issue:

1) Good day Senator Cropsey. I encourage you and other senators to continue to be responsible related to spending for the state. I am a Canadian who has been involved in the sighting of additional crossing capacity between Windsor and Detroit since 1997. I have made presentation to many Provincial Ministers and Federal Ministers of Transportation to get enhanced transportation routes in Canada.

I was shocked that Mr. L Brook Patterson was presented as a supporter of DRIC but he was lied to ....when his response to DRIC was "If it is the only game in town"...

Many years ago the Ambassador Bridge Company recommended a ring road concept to the Canadian Federal Minister of Transportation to improve access to the Bridge for international traffic decreasing the impacts of the commercial development on Huron Church created by the City of Windsor. The project mirrored the current parkway for the most part but was very preliminary. It reconnected neighborhoods in West Windsor and controlled pollution to the same degree the current proposal does. The only real difference was the roads targeted connecting point but the same plan could be implemented to fix the Windsor problem and provide better access to the current bridge and the Enhanced Bridge Project for the same money NOT COSTING THE STATE OF MICHIGAN A CENT. Really

That is the problem as stated by Mr. Patterson that Windsor does not want. I am reminded of President Ronald Reagan's quote to the Russians when I think of this situation. The president said take down that wall and it fell. The wall was the Russian's problem not the United States. It was the right thing to do and the President knew it.

Paralleling this problem to the wall Canada has a problem. Ontario has a problem. WINDSOR HAS A PROBLEM BECAUSE THEY CREATED IT. The quote today would be "Canada, Ontario, Windsor fix your problem." The Sates and the US government have partnered with the Ambassador bridge for the Gateway Project which eliminates impacts to Detroit neighborhoods and that facility has the capacity to support traffic from two bridges. The Enhanced Bridge Project because of design and improvements to traffic flows through design of traffic marshalling will support the traffic proposed for the next two decades. Should the needs arise the current bridge could be rehabilitated if detailed examination supports it and be brought back into service all at the cost of the Bridge owner not the state.

Again the only issue here is the PROBLEM OF WINDSOR THAT THEY CREATED. Now if ownership is the problem buy the bridge and complete the enhancement project. In addition I would suggest that Detroit and Windsor have a conflict of interest because they own the Windsor Detroit Tunnel. If the bridge needs to be owned or controlled by Government so too does the Tunnel.

There are many options to provide oversight to the border without owning the crossings but that will take much more dialogue. Senator you are at liberty to share my comments and thoughts. ... I have no financial interest in this position and have never been paid for my involvement. I have only the best interests of our two great countries in mind.

Best wishes on in the senate vote and I hope and pray that the right thing will be done.

2) Okay, your wrists must be on fire. If you need anyone to type for you, let me know.

The City of Windsor and this Border File must be driving you into a convulsive state of keyboarding. You must have one terrific wife. Kiss her for us and keep up the great work!

3) What I don't understand is why my government is promising me jobs but only if I allow them to quash a private business man. The two can be mutually exclusive but my government is twisting these two things into one. Something very wrong here. It's a free country or so I thought until now.

So Canada wants to build a bridge. Go for it.
So Matty wants to build a bridge. Go for it.

But kindly stop holding up "job carrots" to Canadians for ulterior motives. Canadian or American
governments that want to put private enterprise out of business when it is the very foundation for both countries, do not have my respect nor my support.

Eddie Francis DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME. Neither does that Doer guy.

4) Your blog sure has gotten a lot of attention lately.
Gord's column tells of political dealing and common place.
I think all three are fighting for their political future.
Since when can two sitting ministers guarantee an extra $78 million
in a breakfast deal in an MP's home?
So much for transparency and political process.

5) Watch what happens with Red Bull's spectators.
They are going to drop fiercely.

6) We should be so lucky that you would run [for Mayor]. Can you imagine the campaign!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7) I found this morning's read very entertaining!

8) "It will also put to rest the issue of the private individual soliciting donations for the Chimczuk Museum and of other groups posturing for the funds".

Surely they cannot be referring to The Executive Director of Chimczuk Museum Inc., an Ontario numbered company, the owner of the name "Chimczuk Museum" name, and a Canadian Registered Charity !

9)Slam Dunk! Doesn't it feel good? I forwarded this blog to everyone I know. Love it!

10) Hi Ed - just wanted to say I am enjoying your blog daily, sometimes 2-3 times daily!

"The Matty" today was a howl... It is so obvious that every time Matty and Dan make a move the counter attack is just around the corner.

All that effort to take down one man: The Matty. What a debacle!

11) Strangely enough, this popular Canadian Band is playing in a lot of places around Windsor yet not in Windsor, either at the Casino or the WFCU.

[Nmae of band]

Seems to me someone isn't on the ball, so to speak.
Then they wonder why the WFCU is losing money.

12) Some times your on and sometimes your so far off. At least your not afraid to voice your opinions and you can't be bullied. I like that you always play the devils advocate. But your word is not sacred, hopefully the public realize you are just one man giving your opinion. You put it out there to give the public something to think about so we are not mindlessly following the rat in the maze.

Keep it up.

13) It appears that Stats Canada also assisted Matty Moroun in his legal cases, compliments of the People of Canada.

14) [Security guards new legislation] Why would anyone in their right mind think for one minute that alot of these guards in Ontario, who can barely afford to feed their families can afford another $60.00 test for what?? These poor families can barely put a roof over their heads and you guys want more money on top of the $85 dollars they already get ripped off ,for a license? What is this government thinking, when is this all going to stop..The poor waiters and waitresses better watch it maybe they are next?

You guys rip off people more and more every day, not to mention your HST..There is less people in Alberta they pay a 5% tax on things there, why do we need to take more?When and where is this going to stop, our government is going to break us all, and they won't stop until we are all on welfare.. I'm just trying to figure this all out, and help some people I know?? I do know one thing Mr. McGuinty and Associates when are you guys going to take a pay cut like the rest of us? You for sure don't deserve what you are all getting..

15) [RE CKLW commentary] You and the other bloggers must be doing something right to get these clowns talking about you guys.Keep the good work!

16) How is it that the most impoverished and poorly serviced city in the province has the second-highest paid mayor in the province?

17) Not sure that I am comfortable with sole sourcing by City of Windsor Corporation. Even when it is relatively small.

What is it that we do? It appears that we call in a company from outside our economy for these assessments - did they bid on these assessments? Then they flow on through to the sole source job.

It does not make fiscal sense to me. Prevents us from getting the best bang for our buck here in Windsor by blocking companies inside our economy from bidding even on the little jobs.

18) I saw this – it is an actual industry reaction to border problems that need to be addressed, evidently independent of Transport Canada’s infrastructure agenda. It is striking in that it totally contradicts the MDOT/Canada line that we need border infrastructure. The trades all say it is GOVERNMENTAL POLICY that causes unnecessary delays, and desire/demand for an other bridge is irrelevant.

19) I am sending a link to my first blog attempt. It is still a work in progress. I’m not sure if you had a chance to hear Paul Pedro’s new commentary on CKLW yesterday, but it sort of inspired my writing

20)Can Windsor Star not be challenged to provide the source of these hateful comments?

21) Fantastic quote about Bill Marra.

22) I could be wrong but isn't there a Provincial election in 2011?
Just when they decide to dump a bunch of money in their ridings.
It's probably a multi-billion dollar coincidence.
Would a politician really plan it that way?
Giving them that kind of credit for setting it up like this is really just
another long shot because in one way they are totally out of touch with
basic needs and necessities of the common taxpayer, yet they seem to
work awful hard on announcing dates that are self-serving.
I'm so confused........
Are they really that lucky, or really that smart?
The ultimate question is what portion of the population voted
them in? Was it the smart ones, (another mind boggler) or was it
the ones with no education they claim are the hindrance in
our populace?
You can't make this stuff up.

23) Like lambs to the slaughter! Duped! Conned! Misdirected! Spanky got spanked but good! Now Edgar will run for a third term, Spanky and Sandra just made it a sure thing! I'm puking now just thinking of the spitting spin coming out!

24) Well it looks like Edgar saved the day again.
He compromised on DRIC just before the police negotiations.
At least the money used for DRIC can now go to the lawyer he hired
from Toronto.
If Edgar is so interested in helping Windsor, why is he trying to
eliminate jobs at city hall and hiring out of towners all the time?

Seems to me he's flushing money downstream.
Maybe that's why the new sewage collector is being built....

25) You are right as usual and yes it is a sell out and all it took was 78 million and oh, by the way no more tunneling.

26) I continue to enjoy your blog on a daily basis. I read the blogs of others as well as some of the stories on the Windsor Star website. Lately I have refrained from reading any of the comments on the Stars' website, and I don't bother posting anything there myself. However, after reading Vander whatevers' most recent column (Cupe girds for battle) I could not resist typing something in the mess of comments of their comment section. This guy seems to have taken a personal issue with public sector employees, union employees, and more directly local city workers. You know, regular working people who live amongst us in this area. People with families, decent jobs, live in our neighbourhoods, shop where we shop, play where we play, pay taxes like the rest of us.

27) You really have to stop critisizing the Windsor Star. After all it is good for the kitty litter and for packing things in. That's about all.

28) Odd that you would pick Ottawa to talk about concerning the contracting out of garbage. When we were there a few years ago on vacation, we had a fight with a parking meter. When speaking with the ordinary people of Ottawa we were told that nothing had been the same since the parking was contracted out. Interesting!

29) you rock the city my friend. your blog has them covering their bottoms as fast as they can.

30) my friends at city hall want to know if you would run for council. you have a lot of support here.

31) Eddie just stood alongside Michigan politicians and praised the new DRIC crossing.

Looks like the aerotropolis is looking to use the DRIC bridge as a gateway and it ain't to the Windsor airport.

It looks like Edgar's been outplayed by real entreprenuers.

32) We have been reading your blog on a regular basis and find the articles all quite informative. Would it be possible to get more exposure on your articles out to the public.? I think that most people still turn first to the Windsor Star for City Council information, etc., as lots of folks still don't have computers. I think that more taxpayers have to know what's going on before the Municipal elections take place.

Keep up the good work.

33) I really feel sorry for those whose sole source of local news is television and Windsour Star

34) Secret meetings, keeping the public out of the loop, sounds like Kwame is running our city.

Way to keep up the transparency of city council.

As a note for the future Eddie when you want to keep something out of the public don't run to the media to tell them you have a emergency meeting. My 4 year old nephew runs around saying "I have a secret" He's 4 and you are how old?

35) You know Eddie Francis reminds me a lot of Count Scary.
This secretive bs was no more than a ploy to take away press from
the other pressing issues the citizens have in Windsor.

He can make up anything he wants, but he did have control of the council
so no one could out press Edgar at the meeting.

Cone of Silence with Count Scary as the host. I shiver at the thought.

36) [RE WEDC CEO] Looks like you and I think alike.

37) A man was sleeping in the park at city hall this afternoon and Eddie is off on spitfire business. Made me sad!

38) see Toronto Star, now Canada vs Matty AND Nora Moroun!
and they will never pay for bridge " User fees would repay the debt ! " paragraph 4 [in the story],
Bridge plan dangles jobs for Michigan !
and will the province continue funding Windsor when McGuinty has canceled
4 billion in transportation in Toronto ???
I can see a big delay coming!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Is The Commish Neutering Himself

Interesting Council report on the Integrity Commissioner on the Council Communications Package whereby it looks like he himself is trying to prevent himself from doing the job he was hired for by limiting what he can look at.

It looks like he wants to follow Toronto's protocol out of the blue.

This could well mean that a violation of the City's Code of Conduct is never dealt with in an expeditious fashion the way it was supposed to be done under Windsor's system.

Since I have a complaint outstanding, I wrote the Commish suggesting to him that he may be making another "Ron Jones" error by acting without authority.

I expect my complaint which is long outstanding to be handled under the procedure in place when I filed it, not under something else that he has decided to use as he is leaving office.

Here is part of my letter to him:

  • One other matter that I find quite troubling has to do wih your contract extension. The Council Report in the City Communications package on the Council Agenda for this Monday states that you have accepted Council's offer to extend your contract until June 30, 2010 "on the same terms and conditions as his previous contract." [emphasis added]

    In the Hamilton Spectator dated December 30, 2009, you stated:

    "I enjoyed what I did in Windsor...

    "The most challenging part [of being Windsor's integrity commissioner] is the fact that the position is so new. It was new to me, it was new to council in Windsor, and no one really knew how it should work out.

    There are only about seven or eight integrity commissioners throughout the province, so you don't have a playbook. So, the biggest challenge was trying to work without procedures or protocols in place. That's (how) Hamilton is different -- they've already set up protocol." [emphasis added]

    "I would put together protocols Day 1. That was my biggest challenge -- trying to work within an environment where I didn't have a lot of direction. I'm not knocking Windsor -- it's just that it was new." [emphasis added]

    In the Windsor Star, it was stated on February 2, 2010 that

    "the city will create integrity protocols that will allow the commissioner to investigate issues even without a complaint.

    "City council had very little choice but to accept the recommendation of the integrity commissioner to withdraw his report," said Mayor Eddie Francis, who indicated that within three weeks protocols will change." [emphasis added]

    With respect, I was deeply disturbed in reading in the Council Report the following:

    "In addition, the Integrity Commission has provided Council with the protocols he intends to follow for investigating the remaining complaints he has received...[emphasis added]

    It is in my opinion absolutely improper for you to investigate my complaint as you have described using protocols you have chosen to use. It is Council's job not yours to create and change any protocols. You are usurping the proper role of Council by your action.

    It is clear that there are no Council prepared protocols now as there were none when you became the integrity commissioner as set out in your Spectator Interview.

    Your contract was extended "on the same terms and conditions as his previous contract" ie without any protocols.

    Accordingly, I expect that you will investigate my complaint without the use of any protocols since to do so otherwise would be in breach of your Contract with the City of Windsor! There is nothing in that Agreement which permits you to prepare any protocols and you have not been assigned the task to do so by Council.

    Clearly, the only functions you have been assigned to undertake under the Services section of the Agreement is to investigate complaints without any protocols. You have not been assigned any function under the Services section to perform otherwise. In my opinion it would be absolutely improper for you to perform your function otherwise and you would be performing without authority as was the case in the Jones matter.

    In any event, no affidavit setting out evidence is required in Windsor so that any provisions in Toronto's Protocol are not applicable since they deal with complaints that shall include an affidavit.

    My complaint is one on its face which deals with the violation of the Code of Conduct since it is broader as an example than a mere pecuniary interest at Council under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. I am not suggesting either in this complaint a violation of the Criminal Code as stated below. Rather it is the very narrow matter; [deleted].

    Please confirm receipt of this email and please let me know when I may expect to hear from you in relation to this matter given your contract deadline.

BLOGexclusive: Michigan DRIC's 10,000 Jobs---Is It All Smoke And Mirrors

We saw this headline and storyline

  • "Supporters of bridge plan say it'll bring jobs

    The importance of this is all about jobs," Granholm said, citing 10,000 direct construction jobs as the direct result of the [DRIC] project."

But have you seen this headline yet in any of the Michigan media:

  • "Attackers of DRIC bridge plan say it'll cost jobs

    The tragedy of this is all about the loss of jobs, the DRIC opponents say, citing about 10,000 construction jobs annually as a direct result of the [DRIC] project."

Of course not. No one has put the facts together except the BLOGMeister! Now you will learn why 10,000 people will lose their jobs due to DRIC because of startling facts never learned until the DRIC news conference. Read on.

The media reports of the DRIC Press
Conference were fascinating with new stuff suddenly appearing that shoots down a lot of what DRIC had said before. All of this really for just one person too:

  • "The clear goal of the event was to mount enormous pressure on the Republicans who control the Senate, specifically Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt), who has steadfastly resisted the DRIC project in favor of allowing the Ambassador to build a second span."

I also liked how the Bridge Company pulled an endrun around DRIC by scheduling a press conference later in the day and took away a lot of the DRIC media coverage by their rebuttal of what was said earlier.

Poor L. Brooks, so out of touch. So much misinformation being spewed out. I would not want him lobbying for my side of the debate

  • "It was made very clear to me that a second span would not be welcome in downtown Windsor — congestion, pollution," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. "If it's not going there, then the DRIC is the only game in town, or we lose out to New York."

Please, could someone please give L. Brooks a map of Windsor or a GPS device already so he won't get hopelessly lost and can tell where the Ambassador Bridge is located. Downtown, he is thinking of the Tunnel! And tell him that the Buffalo competition is a myth that MDOT has shot down years ago.

As for Jobs, Jobs, Jobs being so important for Michigan so that DRIC must be built now (as if the Ambassador Bridge people would not hire people for their project), that is a new one for MDOT. Here is what they said before were the objectives of the project. Look hard for the word JOBS:

Detroit River International Crossing Study Public Forum
Introduction of Project to the Private Sector

Capacity and redundancy, matters already disproved by facts, were the reasons for DRIC NOT jobs! These guys make it up as they go along.

Granholm said. "Let's get 'er done!" Terrific sentiment but where has she been for all these years.

Except, what's the hurry. Here is what is being proposed that the Governor does not seem to know about as shown in the SEMCOG data:

  • Start date: 2021-2025 not now
  • Not funded by a P3 but by revenue bonds secured by future tolls
  • The bonds are Michigan General Obligation bonds so taxpayers are on the hook.

Here is what DRIC said their schedule was to the private sector and notice the difference:

Which schedule is correct? MDOT would not lie to the private sector and get everyone upset with them would they? Someone seems to be mistaken.

Here is something that I had never heard before and wonder if the Legislators have. To set this up, here is what I saw in Crains:

  • "The cash-strapped Michigan Department of Transportation, a partner in DRIC and under criticism because it has been forced to cut back road projects while pushing for DRIC."

Then AP reported:

  • "A combination of federal funds, bonds and $100 million in state transportation dollars would be needed to build Michigan's portion of the bridge. User fees would repay the debt."

Maybe I missed it but I don't remember any State money being mentioned before to be used for this project. It was always said that tolls would pay for it:

  • "We estimate that the U.S. cost of construction will range from $900 million to $1.5 billon.” said Bill Shreck, M-DOT communication director. “This is the cost for construction and right of way acquisition and it includes the crossing, plaza and connection. Bridge tolls will be used to cover the cost of the project.”

In the press Release for the DRIC meeting, it was written:

  • "The new bridge will be a publicly owned. Bridge tolls will be used to repay the private developer/financier, much the same way as other toll roads or bridges."

Here is what the private sector was shown:

Nothing there about $100M.

But all is ok. According to MDOT's Captain Kirk:

  • "that money could be rolled into the financing, which would be repaid through bridge tolls, meaning in the end the state would have no upfront costs."

Roll up the $60m spent so far on DRIC studies, roll up another unexpected $100M, roll up cost inflation, roll up P3 profits and we've just increased tolls by a few extra dollars to make OTA's David Bradley's trucking members really whinge!

That assumes that there will be a P3 financing and that anyone will use the DRIC bridge if built since its tolls might be 4 times higher than that of the Ambassador Bridge! Unless Michigan taxpayers will subsidize it.

What is going on here? When did that $100M appear? Read this and wonder at how the MDOT people can actually look Legislators in the face:

  • "From Oct. 1, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2011, we are looking at being $84 million short in state revenue, and that will cost us $475 million in federal funding,” said Nick Schirripa, communications representative for the MDOT Southwest region. “So we’re looking at roughly $550 million short for the 2011 year. That number only increases over the next three years.”

    Last month, MDOT released an updated draft of its 2010-2014 Five-Year Transportation Program, in which it will delay 243 projects statewide if that funding is lost. Also, the reduced highway program is estimated to support an average of 7,778 jobs a year between 2011 and 2014, down from 17,070 in 2010."

The difference is about 10,000 jobs per year!

They cannot come up with $84M but can come up with $100M for DRIC. Amazing. Interestingly, the State would lose about 10,000 jobs a year by not building 243 projects and how many more by using $100M of scarce funds for DRIC.

Why not save jobs by using $84M for those 243 projects and Bridge Company expenditures on their project for toll credits! Seems like a winner and perfectly logical to me.

Here's the irony:

  • "Stamper attacked Granholm, saying the governor flies all over the world "looking for jobs for Michigan, and then comes to Detroit and tries to take away business from the best run, privately owned bridge in the world."

Finally, you had to listen to Dan Stamper rip apart what DRIC claimed. I listened in via a meeting conference call. It was the best I had ever heard him. He was in a really fighting mood as you can tell from reading his introductory remarks:

  • “FACTS ARE PESKY THINGS” and legitimacy may ultimately prove right from wrong.

    While the DRIC continues to hold GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES, they forget to tell what they lack to accomplish their goal.

    While the State and Governor and others continue to have GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES about all the things that DRIC has, they forget to tell you the following:

    DRIC has no Congressional approval

    The Ambassador Bridge has Congressional and Parliamentary Approval.

    DRIC claims they have EPA approval, they have had the luxury of approving themselves --- They didn’t tell you it is being challenged Community Groups as well as DIBC.

    The Ambassador Bridge has filed all environmental studies and the US Coast Guard has publicly acknowledged the “FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT” and the only delay is Government red tape (by the same bureaucrats that manage the DRIC)

    DRIC claims they have approval of their EIS in Canada they again are attempting to approve themselves --- They didn’t tell you that it is being challenged by Sierra Club.

    The Ambassador Bridge has filed all environmental studies in Canada and again the only delay is Government red tape (again by the same bureaucrats that manage the DRIC)

    DRIC claims they are ready to go---They didn’t tell you that they own no land in Detroit and that they have to condemn 250 homes, 50 businesses and multiple non-profits and churches.

    The Ambassador Bridge owns all land need except for less than one fourth of an acre on City owned park that has been closed for more than a decade and that the city had signed an agreement to sell it at one time.

    DRIC claims Canada will not allow The Ambassador Bridge to land in Windsor—

    The Ambassador BRIDGE NEWS FLASH we have already landed and built the landing for the Enhancement Bridge with approval from Canada.

    DRIC claims that 17 traffic lights separate the 401 highway and the Ambassador Bridge.

    The Windsor Essex Parkway that is part of DRIC connects 401 directly toward the Ambassador Bridge and eliminates all but three traffic signals.

    DRIC claims they are ready to go—They still are faced with attempting to build over salt mines and hazardous material.

    The Ambassador Bridge is building on solid bed rock with 80 years of history supporting the current bridge.

    DRIC claims that a new bridge is needed now due to traffic increases

    Ambassador Bride traffic even with the uptick of the first quarter of 2010 over 2009 (lets not forget that the auto industry was mostly shut down in 2009) is only at 1987 levels.

    DRIC claims they are ready to go and will put 10,000 folks to work in 2010--- They didn’t tell you that in a SEMGOG report MDOT states that construction won’t begin until after 2021.

    DRIC claims they need a P3 partnership to make a go of their bridge

    The Ambassador Bridge needs no partner or taxpayer money for the Enhancement Project.

    DRIC claims Ambassador Bridge has no support.

    The Ambassador Bridge and MDOT received full support for the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project that included as the first priority to allow for the second span. This support was in written form from the Ontario and from the City of Windsor and Detroit.

    While the State and Governor and others continue to have GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES the Ambassador Bridge continues to employ folks and create JOBS/

    What we all heard today was a contradiction of statements.

    The Governor claims that the DRIC will be built with someone else’s money “NOT TAXPAYERS MONEY.”

    But, then she is asking again for legislation to allow MDOT to continue to move forward with TAXPAYER money on top of the $33 million of TAXPAYER MONEY that has already been spent.

    While the States and Governor and others continue to have GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES The Ambassador Bridge continues to construct needed infrastructure to the border.

    While the States and Governor and others continue to have GREAT NEWS CONFERENCES The Ambassador Bridge continues to operate the best BORDER CROSSING IN NORTH AMERICA.

Darn, Dan should have added in the Presidential Permit as well that the Ambassador Bridge does not need and DRIC does. Do you really think that Secretary Clinton is going to help out Canada after what the US Ambassador to Canada said about wait times dropping, what her Department said before in their closed door session with DRIC and what she said in Ottawa about the border! I hardly think so.

And what was the effect on Senator Cropsey? Was he impressed with all of this pressure errrr attention:

  • "But Mr. Cropsey fired back...

    “It’s not that I’m being unreasonable,” he said. “I think it’s asking questions the taxpayers are asking that the governor hasn’t come up with any answers for.”

    Further, Mr. Cropsey said, “It really surprises me that Brooks Patterson would be out there pushing for a massive spending increase for a Michigan Department of Transportation that has been so inept in its spending that it’s obviously going to call for a massive tax increase.”

    On the overall project, Mr. Cropsey said he is skeptical of public-private partnerships, saying some have gone bankrupt in recent years, putting the state at risk of having to cover the costs should the same happen with the DRIC.

    Mr. Cropsey also questioned MDOT’s $100 million upfront cost estimate, saying the department has a long history of grossly underestimating costs. And for all the talk of the need to build the bridge for jobs, actual construction is a decade away, he said, meaning no immediate economic impact...

    “I want a vote because I want every politician in Lansing to be on the record as to whether they support the biggest boondoggle in Michigan history,” he said."

Perhaps Sandra could make her killer bacon and cheese quiche to impress him!