Saturday, June 30, 2007


That should be the sound of Saturday's issue of the Windsor Star hitting the front doors of the bunker Windsor City Hall.

Dave Battagello's front page piece reveals Windsor's worst kept secret. "City border file called "black hole".

For those new to reading Windsor related blogs, you might want to check out Councillor Halberstadt's blog from the 22nd of November - Moving forward.

That started the ball rolling and mercifully lead to a "Schwartz is dead" article in the 24th of November's Windsor Star.

That blog was followed by one on the 6th of December 2006:
Hell breaking loose

With that in mind, I have interviewed Windsor native Marko Paranosic, former right hand man of Sam Schwartz and bulwark of the Windsor office Sam opened in 2005.

Marko offered to go on the record to support my assertion that the Schwartz bypass is dead after I was quoted in the Windsor Star, and other Councillors disputed it.

Paranosic actually spoke with his feet in August when he took a job with Stantec Engineering in that company’s Kitchener office. “As an engineer I have a limited shelf life (on projects),” says Marko. “I would not have left if I thought there was any hope,” for follow-through on the Schwartz bypass.

Paranosic traces the death knell to October, 2005, when Transport Canada hired the firm Cansult to attack Schwartz’s proposal for an eight-kilometer bypass of urbanized Windsor, running west of Huron Line at Todd Lane and touching the borders of LaSalle and the protected natural area called ANSI.

Paranosic says the proposed route, which looped around and connected back onto Huron Church at E.C. Row and then onto the Ambassador Bridge, made sense when it was hatched in a community where panic had set in with international trucks regularly lined up beyond E.C. Row and spilling onto city streets.

As the repercussions of 911 diminished, and the Bridge and Customs opened new booths, the trucks started flowing much more freely. This gave legitimacy to opponents of Schwartz who attacked the stupidity of an eight-km loop to avoid two km of Huron Church roadway between Todd Lane and E.C. Row.

The chief attackers were Save Ojibway crusader Alan McKinnon and Mike Hurst, former mayor and hired gun for the rival DRTP border crossing route.

Paranosic says he became frustrated with the city when “we were not allowed to defend ourselves against the McKinnons and Hursts of the world.” Instead of adjusting the plan to adapt to the changing landscape, the city continued to trot out Schwartz for “dog and pony shows.”

Sam Schwartz, when the “Schwartz is dead” article appeared in the Star on Nov. 24, claimed that there were other facets of his plan that have bogged down because of navel gazing on the bypass.

Paranosic agrees and identifies those dormant parts as expansion of the truck ferry service across the river, an inter-modal facility at Windsor Airport, a double-stacked rail tunnel at the end of the DRTP line and enhanced Intelligence Traffic Systems on Huron Line.

Mayor Eddie Francis has been pretty well mute on these components until recently, when he referenced development of Windsor Airport and an inter-modal terminal as a priority in his new four-year term.

Tellingly, the only part of the plan that has moved forward is improvements to Manning Road in Tecumseh, to be bankrolled by the senior governments. “Manning Road should not have been part of the mix, but was thrown in as a bone to former warden Mike Raymond to get buy-in from Essex County,” says Paranosic.

Sound familiar? You should bookmark those posts to refer back to as Marko endures an onslaught of spin this week.

For further insight, check out Marko's comments on Chris Schnurr's blog. , posted just this past 30th of May.
As I recently said to another well known “blogster”, I’m not sure what is left for Sam to do on this file. I genuinely like Sam and David Estrin, I respect them greatly, I wish them the best, however you may include me in the camp that disagrees with the continued in-camera secrecy and Solicitor-Client privilege that shrouds engineering work being done by the city on this file.
A huge H/T to Marko for standing up and saying what needed to be said.

I and many others agree - it's time for the secrecy to end.

Next Tuesday night's Council meeting would be a good place to start. Instead of the usual in-camera border report, Council should move to the public open session any discussions related to the border.

Unless the residents of Windsor begin speaking with a much louder voice, this Mayor and Council will continue to stumble along, pointing fingers everywhere except where they belong.

It's up to you. Council Contact Information

Friday, June 29, 2007

Langley BC Online Services

Here's one City that gets it. The only thing I would recommend is adding RSS for the various categories so that people can "pull" the content they desire in conjunction with the City "pushing" it through email distribution. (RSS is how I received this information - from CivicInfo BC's RSS Feed)
"Langley City Express" Online Service is Launched
By City of Langley

LANGLEY - The City of Langley is pleased to announce the launching of a new online service called the "Langley City Express", an opt-in e-mail system that promises prompt delivery of City bulletins to subscriber e-mail addresses. Mayor Peter Fassbender states that "this initiative is a means of keeping our residents more connected to what is happening in the community". He continues by saying that "this movement is in response to feedback from the 2007 Community Survey, in which 12% of respondents indicated e-mail as their preferred method of communication with the City." The survey also found that 45% of the respondents had used the City's website in the past year, up from 33% in 2004.

In addition to being the most efficient way for Langley City residents to receive bulletins, the Langley City Express will also benefit residents from neighboring communities, making information regarding City of Langley community events and recreation programs more readily accessible to them.

Visitors to the City's website can subscribe to one or more groups and receive bulletins by e-mail. The subscriber groups currently available for subscription are: City Newsletter, Community Events, Langley Youth Services, Press Releases and Recreation Guide.

Neighbourhood Revitalization - Windsor style

Windsor City Council would rather see this house stand empty for several more years...

Instead of this

Local developer Buschante Development Group wants to demolish the house at 591 Joseph and replace it with safe, modern student housing. They have already constructed units on Chippawa and Bloomfield:
These NEWLY CONSTRUCTED private units (NOW READY!), offer a total of 36 bedrooms with
ceramic throughout. Each 1000sqft., 3 bdrm unit offers a brand new kitchen, living/dining room, full bathroom and laundry (shared only between 2 other roomates). INLCUDED are Cable, high speed internet (EACH ROOM), phone lines are also available! Brand new fridge, stove and laundry facilities are included for use. For more info. and to reserve your room today, e-mail
Group rates offered. Able to sign immediatley, available to move into May1st/06 for 1yr lease. We have roomates looking for single occupants, contact information available.

This building has absolutely no historic or archaeological value. The developer has even offered to tailor the building to meet Olde Sandwich architecture.
Can we get direction on the matter that we will be able to continue positive growith in the area in the form of demolition of qualified homes (if necessary) with the new construction that perhaps mirrors Olde Sandwich architecture? This would be an exciting compromise.
Council was recently expressing frustration with the Federal government's lack of action on the former Biker clubhouse on Sandwich street. What do they want them to do? Demolish the house!

"We've been waiting forever to get that stupid house torn down," Postma said Thursday. "I have done some neighbourhood cleanups there. But how long do we have to suffer?"

"For me it's a public safety issue. You should have the right to tear down a building if it's a danger to public safety."

I agree with Councillor Postma. It's a shame she and her fellow Councillors can't seem to find a way to apply the same standard across the board. Only Councillors Halberstadt and Dilkens voted against denying the Buschante Group's application.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


It's a Girl
Mayor Eddie Francis and his wife, Dr. Michelle Prince are proud parents this morning.

The couple welcomed their seven pound baby girl, Sienna Cedar Francis at 3:00 a.m. this morning.

Mom and Dad are tired, but are doing well.

Congratulations to the Mayor and his wife Michelle

Moving forward

This is certainly welcome news. Questica Capitol Budget Development System.
Questica TeamBudget Capital

A forecasting and capital budgeting solution designed to save you time and dramatically improve your budgeting process.

TeamBudget Capital is a secure web-based solution structured on a proven capital budgeting model. Working in conjunction with the public sector, Capital TeamBudget was designed to be a fully featured product, solving the cumbersome processes of assembling, tracking, analyzing and reporting of capital budgets.
Hopefully a successful trial of this software will also lead to purchasing the TeamBudget Operating. Tighter controls and on-demand reporting will greatly assist decision makers in the budget process.

Maybe there'll even be a few bucks left over from this purchase to buy the Mayor some Newsletter software for his promised "21st century fireside chat email newsletter".

One can always hope.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Whispers in the wind?

The voices grow louder.
Open doors
The Court's sound advice
Windsor Star
Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A unanimous Supreme Court of Canada ruling that underscores the democratic necessity of open municipal government should have councils in Windsor and Essex County thinking long and hard before discussing the public's business behind closed doors.
Nobody is expecting to see specific personnel related issues discussed in public or bargaining positions revealed in open session, but weak excuses like revealing how much the City of Windsor paid out in claims will encourage people to sue the City, just won't wash anymore.

As stated in the Star editorial, Council must seek out ways to have issues remain in the public domain instead of the current opposite practice.

There are ten individual voices on Council. How much longer will they allow the tail to wag the dog?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Politicians and their spin

Under the category of "if you repeat something often enough, people will believe it, whether or not it's true", Windsor-West NDP MP Brian Masse moves to the head of the class.

"I believe in public ownership and will fight the campaign to keep it that way," he said. "We will have lower fares, greater accountability and we can afford to do it. And more importantly, it's done like that everywhere else."

Masse said that the only U.S.-Canada crossing with higher fares than the privately owned Ambassador Bridge is the International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie, the only other privately owned bridge.

"I'm concerned that we could be introducing a fee here that would be borne by Windsor residents disproportionately because we use the border more than anyone else," he said. "In fact, 50 per cent of the crossing is local."

Crossing Rates - From Windsor to Detroit(CDN)
Type of Vehicle Description Tunnel
Non-Commercial Vehicles
Passenger Vehicles (Autos, pick-up trucks, vans and RVs

Tunnel Commuter Token pkg=20 tokens, Bridge package =25


Commercial Vehicles
Taxis, vans, and limos 4.00 4.00
Trucks and Tractor Trailers Gross weight per 100 lbs 0.035 0.03335
(2 to 7 axles)

(8 axles and up)
Towing or Towed Vehicles

6.00 4.00

Note: Bridge fares are the same both ways. Tunnel fares are anywhere from $0.50 to $0.75 higher when crossing from Detroit to Windsor. Competition from the Bridge is what lead to the Windsor half of the tunnel deciding not to raise their fares. Without that competition, Windsor would most likely have raised their fares at the same time as Detroit.

How much is the City of Windsor receiving from the Tunnel Corporation this year as their share of revenues?

Quick Hits - Monday June 25th

One more thing you'll be missing if you don't go to Festival Epicure (July 6, 7, 8).

Politics never sleeps.

In case you missed it Saturday - "Let the sun shine in"

Yet another example of why the City of Windsor needs a Grants Policy. One standard, applied to all. Even better, sell Roseland and the City Marina. Create a Civic Fund. Invest it and disburse the proceeds each year. This would create a stable fund and remove the taxpayer as a funding source.

See above. Stop pretending to run running businesses that compete with private enterprise.

Someone wanting to build Student Housing in Sandwich. Approval of this application removes one of the weak justifications for denying the Bridge Company a demolition permit

I wonder if all these Arena Board of Management In-Camera meetings count towards the overall Public/In-Camera report?

If the City approves this PAC recommendation, I would expect to see a request for a new establishment in the east of Windsor by Tuesday morning, Wednesday at the latest. Once the exceptions are documented, some energetic entrepreneur should move to fill the lack of adult establishments in the far east end.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Let the sun shine in

This article on City secrecy might have a shred of credibility if the actions of Council didn't demonstrate the exact opposite. Candarel leases, Spitfires lease, Council Priority Setting sessions, Arena Management Committee meetings, sidewalk trip/fall statistics, Detroit Grand Prix contribution, Ward Fund reports (1 report in 18 months?), Enwin Utilities/WUC, Tunnel Corporation, Murray/Francis session, Buskers Fest, Festival Epicure ... (feel free to add your own examples in the comments)

Gord Henderson's opinion piece in today's Windsor Star is a prime example. We continually have to get our information from the opinion pages of the Windsor Star instead of our elected officials.

A scant few weeks ago Councillor Ken Lewenza was lambasting Councillor Alan Halberstadt for having the temerity of using the word "compromise" in a blog related to border issues. That same blog was the first time most Windsor residents were informed that not only had the City retained the services of consultant Sam Schwartz again, he had already been in the City for several days briefing Councillors on NEW plans for the border. The Mayor then spent most of his time on AM800 the next day chastising Councillor Halberstadt regarding his blog.

The City doesn't need a $250,000.00 dollars communication department, they have Gord Henderson. You can read all about the new TOP SECRET City strategy in today's column. The only thing missing is the graphics.

It sounds like DRIC is now proposing to meet most of the City's original Schwartz plan, although that's only a guess since none of our elected officials deem the taxpayers important enough to share any info with. Shame on Councillor Halberstadt for not knowing that Columnist Henderson is the preferred method of communication with Windsor ratepayers.

The only reason we know how much money has been spent on various border related consultants and lawyers is due to Councillor Halberstadt's constant pressure to release the details. More TOP SECRET stuff (and long overdue for an update - last report covered until February 2007).

When did the City inform DRIC that they were abandoning Schwartz in favour of another yet to be announced plan? Was it before or after Councillor Marra's tunneling motion? TOP SECRET info that.

The only reason we are seeing reports now on Public versus In-Camera time is due to the "Sunshine By-Law" initiative spearheaded by Councillor Alan Halberstadt. Passed in November of 2005, it took until October of 2006 to get the first report, and that report covered the period from January to September 2006. The first actual quarterly report wasn't issued until February of this year, a full 16 months later.

I'm sure many in Windsor will be looking forward to Administration's report on the Supreme Court case and it's implications for Windsor, that is, if it's not presented In-Camera.

Friday, June 22, 2007

211, 211, wherefore art thou?

I noticed this item on the 211 Conference on the AM800 website yesterday.
With our new taxpayer funded 211 service set to launch this fall, where is the operating agreement that was to be negotiated with the County and the United Way?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Next Generation

Twenty some odd years ago, when I lived in Guelph, I used to be able to call a designated number along with a four digit route code and be informed when the next bus would arrive at my stop. "Stop 1234, in 15 and 33 minutes".

It wasn't perfect, but it was certainly close.

Guelph has again stepped up to the plate with next generation customer service. Online, live, realtime updates. SMS cellphone updates by subscription if requested.

By phone, on the net, live updates on where your next bus is going to be.

Customer service - go figure.

Is it any wonder Guelph has a higher usage, better satisfaction rating than Windsor. For the last 20 some odd years they've been working hard at it, and continue to do so. Windosr - stand and wait - the bus will be there sometime soon - if you're lucky.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's all in the picture

Wizard of Id just seemed appropriate for some reason today.

Make sure you check out Graston's Editorial cartoon in today's Star. Says it all.

That gives me an idea. We all know what Graston's favourite garb is for our elected reps. Maybe they can suit up and sub in for the Buskers. The price is right and they certainly have the entertainment chops.

Frustrated coder

A sharp-eyed reader sent the following little snippet to me from the Convention and Visitor Bureau website. Regular readers know how much I despise that site, and how desperately it needs an upgrade. Now we know it could also use a little code scrubbing. If you look at the source code for the site, this is what you'll find:

Somebody was certainly having a bad day when they coded this! The code can be found here.

(right click and choose View Page Source)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What could $250,000.00 CDN do for Windsor?

With Council currently debating whether or not to add a $250,000.00 dollar Communciations department to the City, what else might that money accomplish?

1. Anything from the "What could $80,000 USD do for Windsor" list

2. Sidewalk rehabilitation - currently $950,000.00 dollars budgeted for 2007, $1.65 million is the recommended amount to maintain our sidewalks on a 40 year cycle.

3. Refurbishments for Oakwood, Optimist, AKO, Forest Glade and Malden Park Centre currently scheduled for 2009/2010 ($300,000)

4. Washroom for Alexander Park. The temporary washroom is slated for demolition with no replacement budgeted for the next 5 years

5. Spray pad for Mic Mac Park, Drouillard, Atkinson, Jackson Park or Lanspeary

6. Mackenzie Hall - complete all refurbishments currently scheduled over 3 years ($187,000)

7. Community Centre roof replacement project ($250,000)

Designed to fail

Well, it's official, Buskers Festival 2007 is dead.

Several questions remained unanswered.
1. If the event planning process typically takes 8 to 10 months, why was Council not informed within this timeframe?

2. Who made the decision to delay any action on this Festival until after the 2007 budget was approved, especially when it was well known that this year's budget would come in significantly later than past years?

3. Was the Mayor's office informed prior to the 31st of May?

4. Was the DWBIA approached before the 31st of May for their support or ideas?
No beer tent, no loud music, just good fun for all ages and we simply let it die.

I guess the only answer now is to hire a consultant to tell us what we did wrong. While we're at it, why don't we throw in a couple hundred thousand extra to tell us how we can improve Windsor's image and marketability. At least that way, someone can make money.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shadow Poll # 8 - Results

The word is in from this little bit of the blogosphere - keep the Buskers Festival.

The Festival's fate is being decided at tonight's City Council meeting.
Update: Here's the latest Buskers report from the City.

Buskers Report (pdf)

Although I'm against holding the event in the Downtown, if the DWBIA is willing to put up their time and money, I say let 'em give it a go.

Update 2: The Buskers Festival has been turned down by Council.

Quick Hits - Monday June 18th

Buskers or Bust (Item 4, not posted as yet) - decision time tonight. It's not looking good for the fan-favourite festival. I find it a strange coincidence that the former promoter for Buskers also happens to be the promoter of Festival Epicure, another Festival the City did nothing to help. Several emails that I've received claim that there is no coincidence. The City was looking to rid itself of the promoter and have accomplished their goal.

Spin City (Windsor edition) - Council's ad hoc Communication Committee meets today at 10:00 am, Walkerville meeting room City Hall, to once again attempt to create a $250,000.00 dollar Communications department at City Hall. Apparently there is a new report from administration to be considered. I guess the fact the meeting wasn't publicized and the report not published could be used as justification for the new PR department.

Once the new PR department is in place, I'm sure they'll be put to good use convincing us all of how much we need a new City Hall to save money.

Stop by tomorrow for "What could $250,000 CDN do for Windsor", a follow-up to "What could $80,000 USD do for Windsor".

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Consulting, municipal style

Sound familiar?
We're with Coun. Michael Walker, who, although he supports banning leafblowers, rightly points out you don't spring stuff like this on the public late Thursday and expect them to comment Monday afternoon, when most people are working, before sending it off to a mid-summer council meeting.

That's not consulting. Heck, it's barely pretending to consult.

Sounds like Windsor disease spreading to Toronto, or maybe it's vice versa, Windsor importing what works so well in Toronto. I've always wondered what all the "ideas" are that are exchanged at various Municipal Conferences.

At least in Federal and Provincial elections the electorate regularly gets tired with one brand of politician or the other and gives them a toss.

Windsor seems to favour a longer, more painful (and generally costly) approach. One of these days a few Councillors will finally figure out that 10 is greater than one, probably about 6 to 10 months before the next election.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

So close...

With the Provincial legislature shut down for the summer and all parties in election mode, Windsor's border solution just became a rather large political football.
Border Plan Release Delayed
The timeline for a detailed plan for a new border crossing in West Windsor seems to have been pushed back.

Today, representatives of the Detroit River International Crossing Study would only commit to a vague schedule that will include more lengthy public consultation.

In the absence of our shiny new $250,000 dollar communication department, we turn to the Windsor Star for information:
Decision on truck tunnel will be delayed because city and province can't agree

The city has again retained the services of former traffic engineer Sam Schwartz who has studied the corridor and started offering possible options to the province.

The province seems to be pushing for a cheaper at-grade solution with green buffer zone.

"The city is taking extra steps to make qualified submissions to DRIC for their consideration," Francis said. "We are certainly frightened and fearful of cheap solutions."

Last but not least, "Son of Sam",

Traffic guru has corridor tunnel plan
Francis fearful of province's 'cheap solutions' for route
Dave Battagello, Windsor Star
Published: Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sam Schwartz, the city's hired traffic guru, has come up with innovative tunnelling suggestions for a border truck road in the Talbot-Huron Church corridor, according to Mayor Eddie Francis, who urged Ontario officials to take a closer look at Schwartz's plans.

As the city and provincial officials on the Detroit River International Crossing team remain at loggerheads,it was announced Friday that a recommendation on the truck route, expected this month, is being delayed.

The city several weeks ago rehired the former New York traffic engineer known as Gridlock Sam. He studied the planned border access route corridor between the end of Highway 401 and E.C. Row Expressway and offered possible tunnelling options to the province.
Options - not compromise. Make sure the correct wording is used or you'll earn a trip to the woodshed.

The knife cuts both ways

The head of the dragon here

If only the folks cocooned in government towers in Toronto and Ottawa could understand this. If only they could see that spending a few billion dollars on world-class border infrastructure here -- including a tunnelled route to a new bridge -- is a drop in the bucket compared with the potential dividends over decades.

The same arguments can be made for funding an intermodal freight terminal at underutilized Windsor Airport and for a new state-of-the-art downtown University of Windsor engineering school.

We need visionaries. Sadly, we're stuck with self-serving senior politicians and petty-minded provincial and federal bureaucrats.
Let's not forget the cocoon surrounding our own City Hall. When exactly was it the City switched from "Schwartz or nothing" to "tunneling or nothing" ? The first mention any residents received of tunneling from the City was Councillor Marra's long deferred notice of motion. With all the fanfare and chest thumping surrounding the Schwartz Report (and a price tag to match), it certainly died a quick albeit quiet death.

The Downtown engineering school? How many plans have been announced for this site? How much have we spent on studies over the years? I shudder to think of the cost. Windsor seems to be in love with whatever plan is the flavour of the month. We just never know what the flavour is until after the fact.

Inter-modal freight terminal? Does the City think that the senior levels of government are just going to show up with a wheelbarrow of money and start shoveling on demand? We're so busy running our golf courses, marinas and our latest business, a tunnel, that we can't see the forest for the trees.

Successive Federal and Provincial governments have a lot to answer for, but Windsor isn't exactly in the position to be casting the first stone. Not by a long shot.

Friday, June 15, 2007

What could $80,000.00 USD do for Windsor?

We already know that the $80,000 USD being spent on the Grand Prix could have been used to secure the Buskers Fest, but what else could that money do for Windsor?
• Pay for the final phase of the Community Improvement Plan for Glengarry Marentette -Glengarry-Marentette Waterfront Village urban design guidelines ($75,000)

• Sustainable Downtown plan, a Community Improvement Plan study to to finalize a financial incentive program for investors wishing to redevelop downtown with shops houses and residential lofts. ($60,000)

• Park Playground replacements: at an estimated cost of $30,000 to $40,000 per park, up to 3 more parks could be added to the list for replacement this year - Adstoll, Esdras, Little River Acres, Riverdale, Thompson and East Riverside are the parks slated for 2008 that could be moved up

• Parks and Recreation Health and Safety Orders: double the current funding to begin dealing with a backlog of Health and Safety orders. ($75,000)

• Adie Knox Herman Recreation Complex - family changeroom ($71,840)

• Adie Knox Herman pool refurbishment ($52,200)

• Gino A. Marcus pool refurbishment ($48,000)

• Oakwood Community Centre - upgrades and refurbishment ($46,300)
Those are just a few examples from the City's 2007 Recommended Capital Budget.

All of the branding, re-imaging, communications and messaging in the world isn't going to accomplish anything unless we are willing to address the underlying issues.

Coming up next week - What will $100,000 and $250,000 buy the City of Windsor (the amounts we're currently contemplating spending on "rebranding, imaging and communications).

PS. to my knowledge, we still haven't heard exactly what the City of Windsor is getting for it's $80,000 USD investment in the Detroit Grand Prix

Not looking good for Buskers Fest

How curious. We could make an $80,000 USD commitment to the Detroit Grand Prix, but couldn't give the Busker's Festival one for $40,000 CDN. Why is it Council only found out about all the difficulties at the last minute. Were they informed prior to the News Release on the 31st of May?

I agree with promoter Ken Brandes - moving the festival to the downtown streets would be a bad idea, especially with the streetscaping underway.

25 pages on the Detroit Grand Prix website. Couldn't find any mention of Windsor.

"The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is being organized and promoted by a subsidiary of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, whose chairman is Roger Penske. A provision has been made that enables the net proceeds of the Grand Prix to fund measures to preserve and improve Belle Isle."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Just because...

To go with the new banner, everyone should listen to this blog's theme song at least once.

Excuse me...

It's gonna take me a while to recover, I've been laughing my ass off ever since reading Gord's piece in the Windsor Star this morning.

Read it again and then tell me why he continues to endorse local politicians such as Joe Comartin and Brian Masse. The absolute antithesis of what he waxes so nostalgic about in his articles.

Please spare me.!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Something to keep in mind

PR for the Provincial government, scraps for municipalities:
Ont. unveils program to help municipalities go green
CanWest News Service
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2007

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. - The province of Ontario is providing $200 million in loans and $20 million in grants over the next three years to help cities and towns reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If the Province really believed in "going green" the grants would be $200 million and the loans $20 million. The lineup will be 10 deep for the grants, while no wait status is ensured for the loan line.

Any wonder why Windsor wants to establish as $250,000.00 dollar Communications Department? More of the same.

Shadow Poll # 7 - Results

I've been neglecting the Shadow Polls lately. This one was up for a long time.

I was surprised at how many people did know about the Ward funds. On the other hand, considering most people that visit here are probably fairly knowledgeable about City affairs, I guess I shouldn't be.

New poll is up in the sidebar. I'll post the results of this week's poll just prior to next Monday's Council meeting when the fate of the Buskers Festival is likely to be decided.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Channel report on Bridge Demoltion request

Good report from the A-Channel on this subject. Includes the fact that the draft report on the Heritage District Study area dated March of this year did NOT include the buildings the Bridge Company is requesting to demolish.

At the rate this situation is developing, this one case alone should put a couple of law firm's kids through University.

AM800 Bridge Poll

The poll runs till tomorrow morning, but the results so far are enlightening.

The AM800 poll is located on the main page of the site, right hand sidebar (under the weather).

Quick Hits

Good news for the lawyers, bad for taxpayers.

Buskers Fest earns short reprieve. Time for all in the City to step up. Here's one suggestion for funding - $5000.00 per ward would be a good shot in the arm. Update: just listened to the report on AM800 regarding this issue. Apparently the reason given now is uncertainty due to the budget not being finalized till May. $40,000 was budgeted for this event.

Windsor's brand - a quick internet survey. Very interesting to read, including all the comments.

Federal Election anyone?

City News Releases: Jan 2007 - 2 (Council Notes), Feb 2007 - 2 (Council Notes), Mar - 7 (2 Council Notes), Apr 2007 - 7 (2 Council Notes), May 2007 - 13 (no Council Notes), Jun 2007 - 3 to date (no Council Notes). Were Jan, Feb, Mar and Apr really slow news months for the City or is the battle for the $250,000.00 dollar communication budget still underway? Could August 2007 see us with our new Communications Department and no Busker's Fest to promote? Ironic wouldn't even begin to describe that moment.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bridge crossing site discovered

DRIC's preferred crossing site has recently been discovered. Confirmation was obtained after crews hired by the City of Windsor were spotted drilling test bores for site suitability.

The new site, although the most expensive option possible, is widely touted as satisfying every group's concerns, with the exception of the Bridge company.

Busker Bump

H/T to Councillor's Marra and Lewenza for taking up the Busker cause. I was really disappointed when I saw the news release from the City canceling the event. I was living in Halifax when they started their Buskers event and have loved it ever since.

$80,000 US for the Detroit Grand Prix is ridiculous when Festivals such as Epicure and Buskers hang by a thread. If it's too late to cancel this commitment, then I would suggest the "branding" money allocated in this year's budget be re-allocated.

I'd rather see vibrant successful festivals happening downtown than have to read another high-priced consultants report destined for the shelf with all the others we've paid for over the years.

Blast from the past...

Some things never seem to change in Windsor. I found this picture on Al Nelman's old website.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

You bring the butter

Having looked at this week's delegation list for Monday's Council meeting, I think I'm going to stock up on the popcorn and settle in for some interesting TV.

It seems like such a shame to have one of the busiest Council agenda in months on a night when both Ward 3 Councillors are unable to attend.

Council Communications will take you a while to read this week. (4 parts).

The Council Remuneration report is included(page 13). Looking at it, either Enwin and Windsor Utilities Commission have some serious issues requiring endless meetings or they are being used to subsidize Councillor's pay without actually having to deal with the issue in public.

Any monies received for various boards and committees is pooled and shared equally amongst Council. Last year, thanks to a payment of $158,968.44 to WUC/Enwin members, Councillor's received $17,531.59 as individual shares from the pooled funds. On top of their base salary of $$26,372.93, this brings the total salary to $46,445.94.

I think this is a fair total for our Councillors, if not even on the low side considering the amount of work they perform. It would be interesting to compare this years Enwin/WUC payments with the last 4 years.

If the case is there for Councillors to be paid more than $26,372.93 then it should be made in public. EnWin/WUC is owned by the City of Windsor and has no other shareholders to my knowledge. These large payments for meetings have the appearance of a salary increase by stealth.

One final note. As I read the Council Communications and other various reports each week, I'm left hoping that we've seriously beefed up our legal budget this year. I get the sense we're going to need it.

(click image for full size)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Testing, testing, 1,2,3...

For all you Blackberry, PDA and cellphone users (with web browser), surf on over to Alan on your favourite handheld device. I'm testing a new PDA version of the website and would like see how it runs on a number of different platforms.

So far I've been using an emulator and a Blackberry 7520 to check things out. Drop me an email at and let me know the type of device you used to access the site and whether you encountered any problems. Cell phone users will probably encounter a fair amount of scrolling to view all the content as the site is formatted for larger screen PDAs.

I'm going to leave the PDA site up for several days to test things. Once I have all the bugs worked out and as much content as possible mirrored on the PDA site, I'll be able to launch it for full time service.

More and more people are accessing the net with handheld devices, so this is a natural extension of the website that I'd like to develop and grow.

Windsor Star Blogs - new and improved

Congratulations to the Windsor Star on the upgrade to their Blog section. The revamped Windsor Star blogs now feature comments (registration required), tags (Digg, del.ici.ous and Tag Cloud), easy to find permalinks and RSS feeds for each blog. Along with the standard RSS are easy subscribe buttons to readers such as Bloglines, Feedgator and CanWest's own . Random blogs are featured on the homepage of the Windsor Star, top right hand corner, along with a link to the complete blog list.

Now I know what happened to Council Notebook blogger Roseann Danese. Apparently Roseann is the new head of web services at the Star. (not sure if this is the correct title). While I miss her blog on City affairs, her efforts so far on the blog section are excellent. Contrary to some people's opinion of blogs as nothing more than a "ultimate exercise in vanity", most major media outlets recognize their potential in driving traffic to an outlets website and ultimately to their advertisers. The internet is where most growth is happening, especially for traditional print mediums such as newspapers and magazines.

I've added the feeds for all the Star's blogs to WE Speak. I'm trying out a feature at Feedburner called Pingshot that will hopefully ping the WE Speak blogroll whenever one of the Star bloggers post. This will automatically move their blog to the top of the WE Speak blogroll.

The Star bloggers are a welcome addition to the blogging community in Essex County. Here's your chance to interact with the reporters and columnists that you read every day.

Vanderblogger - Chris Vander Doelen

Off the Hill - Sharon Hill

Reel Life- Roberta Pennington (name change may be pending? Stay tuned!)

Blogelicious - Ted Whipp

Life on Tour - Don McArthur

Duffer's Dabbles - Bob Duff

Running Chatter - Monica Wolfson

Pearson to Person - Craig Pearson

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ward Fund Spending 2006

Below are the results of my analysis of Ward Fund spending just prior to and after the last Municipal Election in 2006.

Each Ward had a budget in 2006 of $30,000.00 dollars, although they were allowed to carry over any unspent funds from previous years. No Ward spent only the $30,000.00 budgeted for 2006 and the lowest percentage spent during the July to December period was 69.17% in Ward Two.

Lowest spending Ward was Ward One at $31,000.00 dollars, although it should be noted that $30,000.00 dollars of this amount represents only Councillor Zuk's portion of the fund. Top spending Ward goes to Ward Five at $117,776.00 dollars, followed by Ward Four at $78,436.00 dollars.

Looking at the money spent in each ward, especially in the months leading up to the election, are the contests in Windsor really a fair race subject to the same rules? While campaign spending is regulated by the Municipal Act and subject to strict spending limits, individual Ward spending of taxpayer dollars is not covered.

Hopefully future Council candidates will cast a critical eye on Ward Fund spending when contemplating whether or not to run for a Council seat. At the very least, Ward Fund spending should be reported on a monthly basis in an election year. Ultimately, the existence and use of these funds should be eliminated in favour of an open and accountable process available to all groups in Windsor. I am continuing my research into whether or not similar funds are used in other municipalities and what rules govern their use.

Ward One

Total Spending 2006
Spending Jul - Dec
% spent Jul - Dec
Note: $30,000 of the funds spent are noted

as coming from Councillor Zuk's portion of the fund

One incumbent, one open seat

Result: one new councillor

Ward Two

Total Spending 2006
Spending Jul - Dec
% spent Jul - Dec

Two incumbents

Result: both incumbents re-elected

Ward Three

Total Spending 2006
Spending Jul - Dec
% spent Jul - Dec

Two incumbents

Result: both incumbents re-elected

Ward Four

Total Spending 2006
Spending Jul - Dec
% spent Jul - Dec

Two incumbents

Results: one incumbent, one new councillor

Ward Five

Total Spending 2006
Spending Jul - Dec
% spent Jul - Dec

One incumbent, one open seat

Result: one new councillor

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Ward 5 Fund - August 2005 to November 2006

Were you a lucky winner of the "Ward 5 Fund Lottery" in 2005/2006?

Get your tickets early for the 2007 edition of the lottery.

This year's prize pool estimated to be $27,000.00 .

Click one of the images below to qualify for an entry in the 2007 Ward 4 Lottery.
(some restrictions may apply. Awards subject to Councillor's sole discretion. No rules or
regulations required or desired)

Ward 5 Lotto Ticket

Chance #1

Click one of the images below to qualify for an entry in the 2007 Ward 4 Lottery.
(some restrictions may apply. Awards subject to Councillor's sole discretion. No rules or
regulations required or desired)

Ward 5 Lotto Ticket

Chance #2

Below are the Ward 5 Fund expenditures for 2005/2006.
(click on the pic for full size)

Note: coming tomorrow - an analysis of Ward Fund spending from August to December 2006 (pre and post election period).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ward 4 Fund - August 2005 to November 2006

Were you a lucky winner of the "Ward 4 Fund Lottery" in 2005/2006?

Get your tickets early for the 2007 edition of the lottery.

This year's prize pool estimated to be $31,728.00 .

Click one of the images below to qualify for an entry in the 2007 Ward 4 Lottery.
(some restrictions may apply. Awards subject to Councillor's sole discretion. No rules or
regulations required or desired)

Chance #1

Chance #2

Below are the Ward 4 Fund expenditures for 2005/2006.
(click on the pic for full size)

The Artful Dodge

City told to pay injured cyclist

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and city solicitor George Wilkki said they didn’t know enough about the case Monday to comment. A message left with Jack Fitch, who represented the city in the lawsuit, was not returned. The city has 30 days to appeal. Yovanovich said he’s happy with Morissette’s judgment because he thinks it may improve road conditions for cyclists.
I guess that's what happens when you don't have a $250,000 dollar PR department to rely on. Besides the border, exactly what does Council discuss at in-camera meetings if they're not receiving updates on on-going cases such as this?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Quick Hits - Monday June 4th

Interesting editorial from the Ottawa Citizen. I liked the "shoot the messenger theme". Unfortunately, in Windsor the media tends to be the shooter instead of the victim. Why do we need a $250,000 dollar PR department for City Hall when we have the Windsor Star and AM800? (ever listened to the Mayor's spot on the Morning Drive - for an all news station, AM800 should hang it's head in shame. Weekly fluff piece doesn't even begin to describe it)

Dion buys barters civic support
Not surprising from an organization who secretly voted out their President, Guelph Councillor Gloria Kovach, for having the temerity to attempt to run as a Conservative candidate. You haven't heard the last of her and the FCM yet.

Businesses, would-be investors - pay no attention. There are no militant unions in Windsor. Move along, nothing to see here.

Ward One, Ward Two and Ward Three Ward Fund Lottery Tickets still available. Details on Ward Four and Ward Five lottery to follow.

The circular logic of Windsor City Council. Anyone who wonders why Windsor has an anti-business reputation, wonder no more. Current halls in Windsor are virtually guaranteed no new competition in Windsor thanks to this lovely bylaw. A bonus for the City owned and run Roseland. How does the City of Windsor make decisions on matters such as this when they are essentially a competitor?

Olde Sandwich Community Improvement Plan moves forward with blinding speed while others like Glengarry-Marentette languish. Maybe the Glengarry-Marentette area should lobby for an International crossing to be built in their area - seems to work for others.

Friday, June 01, 2007

City no longer in the running for Tunnel

Unless the Mayor has access to deep pockets he hasn't let us in on yet, it looks like Alinda really wants to keep on managing the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel.
Firm issues bid for American side of Detroit-Windsor tunnel

UPDATE: According to a report today by the Detroit News, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced in a impromptu press conference, that Alinda has boosted its offer to $70 million from $60 million.

Furthermore, he said he would veto the portion of the Detroit budget, approved by the City Council, that relies on the sale of $58 million in bonds to Windsor and that he was "excited" that a new offer is on the table.
Anyone else get the feeling that Windsor was used to drive up the price on this one? Kwame doesn't really give a hoot who runs it - just whoever's going to provide the most cash.

I can't wait to see the legal bill for our negotiations. This was dumb to begin with, no matter how the Mayor tries to spin it, now it's going to be dumb, expensive and pointless. Yet another good example of why Cities shouldn't be or try to be in business.

Three strikes and you're out.

PS. I wonder what the City of Windsor could do with an extra $75 million US right now?

Update: here's the coverage of the "impromptu press conference" held by Mayor Kilpatrick. Can the City of Windsor win a bidding war with Alinda?
Kilpatrick: Let's rethink Cobo expansion

David Josar / The Detroit News
In a wide-ranging, impromptu press conference on the front porch of The Grand Hotel, the mayor also said he would veto the portion of the Detroit budget, approved by the City Council, that relies on the sale of $58 million in bonds; was "excited" that a new offer is on the table to lease the city's portion of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel; and is against a proposal to make the Michigan Legislature part-time.

Before becoming mayor, Kilpatrick had been House Democratic leader.

Kilpatrick said that Alinda Capital Partners LLC has already increased to $70 million from $60 million its offer to extend its lease with the city for its part of the tunnel.

The city had already been negotiating to lease the tunnel to Windsor.

This afternoon, Kilpatrick is to be on a panel with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Macomb County Commission Chairman William Crouchman, Ficano and Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis.

You can reach David Josar at (313) 222-2073 or
Stay tuned!

Mayors make a list of demands for Ottawa

Mayors make a list of demands for Ottawa
But big-city leaders unclear about getting federal approval for their requests

Jun 01, 2007 04:30 AM

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said the mayors must still convince citizens the cities need the $100 billion they claim is warranted for maintaining, repairing and upgrading infrastructure. She said they must explain that in a way the average voter can relate to.
Spending $250,000.00 on a PR department and millions on "marketing" and "branding" would not be advisable strategies in the Mayor's quest to explain these complicated matters to us average voters. We won't even get into the buffet menu.

Downtown Farmers Market

The 2006 Downtown Farmers' Market will be open from June 1, 2007 through October 31, 2007.

Downtown Market Hours
Wednesday through Friday from 10:00am to 5:00pm

406 Pelissier at the Park Pelissier Garage
Windsor, Ontario.

One hour free parking is available at the Park Pelissier garage above the market.