Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Same great blog...

New location.

Come join me at the new home of The Shadow.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Moving day

Back tomorrow.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Star Staffers Win

Congratulations to the Windsor Star's Dalson Chen and Jason Kryk for winning in their respective categories at the Ontario Newspaper Awards

Portrait Photography: Jason Kryk, Windsor Star

James Bruce Award for excellence in coverage of entertainment and the arts: Dalson Chen, Windsor Star

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Mayor starts a blog

Unfortunately, it's the Mayor of Guelph, where they also have 3 City Councillors with blogs. Here in Windsor the Mayor can't even manage a "Fireside Chat" email newsletter, promised almost two years ago. As far as Councillors go, they're all too afraid to join their fellow Councillor Alan Halberstadt in the penalty box to even contemplate moving into the 21st century.

From Mayor Fairbridge's first post:

Welcome!

I decided to start a blog to encourage more dialogue about civic affairs in the community. One of the goals of our Strategic Plan is to have the highest per capita municipal election voter turnout of any city in Ontario. Participation in municipal elections is usually very low - much lower than provincial and federal elections. When people are asked why they do not vote in municipal elections, the main reason given is apathy followed by a lack of understanding of the issues. This has always surprised me given how important municipal government is to our day to day lives.

I am hoping this blog will be a great way to share information and ideas, get residents’ feedback about City matters, and generally de-mystify City Hall.

I encourage you to get involved in the discussion. For the ground rules on posting comments, please see the “About the Blog” page.

It’s important to note that the opinions I express on this blog are mine, and don’t represent the positions of the City of Guelph or Guelph City Council.

Enjoy!

Related: While we can manage to push out another News Release on the Greenlink marketing campaign it seems the City can't seem to manage posting the Sptitfires deal on the website. The media package and briefing prepared for Councillors are all public documents, along with the deal itself.

Update: Here's the Mayor's News Release about her blog. I really liked this line - ""The blog is a great way to boost the accessibility and transparency of the Mayor’s office, which is an ongoing priority of mine," said the Mayor. " Something to hope for in Windsor.

How?

" But how, short of tying it up in the courts and being labelled obstructionists, do we alter the course of an investment in this depressed region that could be worth as much as $5 billion, when all is said and done? "

How about by acting like adults instead of two year olds throwing a tantrum.

Mayor Eddie Francis and council appeared stunned and responded with anger

“Council is outraged with what was put forward today,” Coun. Dave Brister said

“What council has expressed is they clearly are pissed,” Francis said.

“People behind this proposal have not gained any respect with this dog and pony show today that tries to fool people this is a GreenLink deal. I was not going to get into mudslinging, but they did not gain any credibility with this smoke and mirrors game they pulled today.”

“It is a continuous sellout of this community,” Coun. Fulvio Valentinis said.
With that response, the Province is basically going to say screw Windsor, full steam ahead. Any reasonable person would look at the City's response and surmise that there is simply nothing left to gain in dealing with them.

We could have acknowledged the changes made, asked for more time to study the complete plan and come back with a reasonable, measured response. Instead, Windsor hauls out the artillery and starts lobbing the biggest shells they can find. Save the histrionics and posturing for the next election (most of you are going to need it). Stomping our feet and yelling at the top of our lungs that "Windsor deserves better" is not going to accomplish anything.

Here's a good example:
"LaSalle Mayor Gary Baxter was happy to see progress being made. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

About 42 per cent of the access route falls within LaSalle. Baxter said he would need further analysis done to comment on the impact of the mix of below-grade, tunnelling and parkland proposed for LaSalle."
We're only approaching the half way point of this marathon process. Notwithstanding the upcoming plaza and crossing announcements, there is still the biggest question mark in the equation left to resolve - what about the American side?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Burnt toast at the Toronto Star

The Toronto Star's Food Editor with Chef Gordon Ramsay in the Star's kitchen.

Hilarious.

Geek alert

15 new projects for Joomla are in the pipeline thanks to the Google Summer of Code project.

For those interested, Joomla is the Content Management System (CMS) that I use for WE Speak, London Speak, Guelph Speak and MuniBlogs along with a number of commercial websites.

And now back to our regularly scheduled content.

Windsor Weather

Yesterday evening I was searching for a suitable weather banner to put on WE Speak. Most of what I found wasn't suitable until I came across the Weather Underground. The process to select and embed the banner I was looking for was simple. The interesting part came when I scrolled further down the page and looked at where the weather data was coming from.

Apparently someone on Chilver Ave, just north of Tecumseh, has their own weather station setup and it feeds information into the Weather Underground network. The page lists the hardware as a WX-200 using WVS 14.0 software.

The Weather Underground also pulls data from the Windsor Airport, two stations in Belle River, one in Essex, one in the Colchester area and approximately 25 or thirty various stations in Michigan. You can view all the various stations here.

Just one of those really cool things to find on the net and in our backyard.

Windsor, hypocrisy is they name

Yet again.

The very thing Windsor accuses DRIC and the Provincial government of, has never been afforded to our neighbouring municipalities.

On a side note, anyone who thinks the $300,000.00 dollar Greenlink marketing campaign the City has been running in Windsor has had any effect on this process please meet at the corner of Riverside and Ouellette following the DRIC press conference. We're going to be holding the latest auction for shares in the Ambassador Bridge.

Related: I wonder how much a library in Walkerville costs for a year?

2/3 of GreenLink route is outside Windsor
Gary Rennie, The Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2008

LaSalle, Tecumseh and Lakeshore have never endorsed Windsor's GreenLink proposal because the city never consulted with them in its development, even though two-thirds of the route is actually outside Windsor.

LaSalle Mayor Gary Baxter says "it's a continuing problem" that the city comes forward with proposals at the "eleventh hour," expecting simple approval from neighbouring municipalities.

"It's never a collaboration," he said.

Baxter said GreenLink doesn't just impact on LaSalle and Tecumseh -- more of it is actually in those municipalities than in Windsor.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Windsor's own Star Chamber at work

Fired crime committee chair doesn't know why he was ousted
Sarah Sacheli, Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A volunteer removed from the city committee that runs such programs as Neighbourhood Watch and Block Parents said Wednesday he still doesn't know what he did wrong to warrant his dismissal.

Until last week, John Middleton was the chairman of the Windsor Citizens' Crime Prevention Committee, a volunteer committee on which he has served for nearly five years. He said he was summoned to a meeting with city chief administrator John Skorobohacz on April 23 where he was handed a letter saying council had voted to have him removed from the committee.

"It has been brought to the corporation's attention that your recent behaviour directed toward City of Windsor employees contravenes the spirit of the Respectful Workplace Program," the letter said.
While I'm not downplaying the concerns of City employees, basic principles of justice would allow Mr. Middleton to know what his alleged transgression(s) was and be allowed an opportunity to respond - BEFORE he was dismissed.
"Council had some pretty compelling information," said Marra. He said that during his meeting with Skorobohacz, Middleton was not told the names of his accusers, but that there was "a general disclosure of the contraventions."

And, Marra added, "the contraventions were very serious."

All the more reason for Council to have both sides of the story before taking such a drastic step.

Council can spout all the claptrap they want, but look at this if the situations were reversed. What if Mr. Middleton was filing a complaint against City employees? I'm sure there would be a process of investigation involving all parties, mediation, corrective measures etc. Summary dismissal would most likely not even be on the table. Because Mr. Middleton is a volunteer, does he deserve anything less?

The way things look, if I was the Chair of the Windsor Heritage Committee, I would be very concerned. Those pesky heritage people have been getting very vocal lately. That's a big no-no in Windsor.

Procrastinators rejoice!

If you file your tax return online, you now have until May 6th.

You choose

Either our City Administration is incompetent or suffering from political interference on the Arena deal contract.

"Windsor's FOI co-ordinator Chuck Scarpelli said Tuesday that it was "the city's prerogative" to wait until then and that staff is preparing a report to council and a "media package" to coincide with the document's release."
They've had 30 days to prepare to release a contract that they've had since 2006. In those 30 days a briefing for Councillors and media package couldn't be assembled?
"We're not trying to hide anything," said Duben, adding that a Friday release is "so council has at least time to review it."
I'm sure all the Councillors are anxious to view the documents, especially the 7 current Councillors who approved the deal without seeing the actual contract. I wonder if a few of them are sweating things out a little, hoping that there's nothing hidden in those pesky little details they didn't need to see over a year ago.

The funniest line?

Ward 3 Coun. Fulvio Valentinis said council has "a good grasp of what went into it" and that the sooner details are released the better.

"I don't know why it's being held back," he said.

Here's a hint for our esteemed Councillor. Call a special meeting of Council for this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Pass a motion to immediately release the contract. It's what you should have done 29 days ago.

This City Council would put a Maytag washer to shame.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Speaking of wasting time...

Councillor Lewenza was very concerned about "wasting administration's time" as it related to Councillor Dilken's notice of motion last night.

It's a shame he didn't have the same concern about his own request for a report on the benefits of municipal tap water versus bottled water. An eight page report that, as regular Shadow reader Vincent pointed out, required sign off from no less than five different employees of the City.

What Councillor Lewenza is really worried about is the citizens of Windsor finding out how high their fixed costs are for both water and sewer as compared to the rest of the Province. The City sets the sewer rate, the WUC sets water fixed charges and rates.

Councillor Dilkens is to be commended for his leadership on moving forward with an issue that will impact every household in the City. Windsor's reliance on extremely high fixed cost pricing with relation to it's water utility bills is a dis-incentive to both conservation and cost reductions for individuals. I recently spoke with an owner/landlord who now has the water turned off and metre removed from his empty units because it is cheaper. The monthly water costs of empty apartments was eating up what little profit he is able to make on his other units, especially in a City with a vacancy rate of 15%.

Having read both Chapters 7 and 8 of the Watson report extensively, I'm looking forward to seeing both the report from administration and what the WUC will bring forward next year with regard to rate structures.

It's a girl!

Congratulations to my sister-in-law Leanne Synnott on the safe and healthy arrival at Guelph General Hospital last night of my newest niece, Breanna - 8lbs, 11 ounces.

I suppose I should congratulate my brother Derek as well. He had a part somehow in this whole process, or so I'm told.