Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Shadow Poll #16 - Results

The results are in. Clearly leading the way is Vanderblogger Chris Vander Doelen followed closely by Life on Tour's Don McArthur.

Round 2 is up in the right hand sidebar to determine - "Who is your favourite Windsor Star Blogger?"

(The blog "The Great Divide: Red vs. Blue" was not included in this list as it did not exist when the poll started.)

Auditor General's Report

I thought a few people might be interested in seeing what an Auditor-General's report looked like since we won't likely be seeing one in Windsor any time soon, regardless of how badly it's needed.

2007 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada

A May 2007 report of the Auditor General of Toronto:
"for every $1 invested in the audit process the return on this investment has been $5.02."
Auditor Generals have extensive powers when it comes to studying spending, programs and policies. Virtually nothing can stand in their way. When it comes to the actual reporting though, the only power they have is that what politicians fear most - public exposure.

The reports are presented in open council, in full view of the public. Reports can't be suppressed, altered or otherwise impeded by anyone. There would be no need to rely on external auditors from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs like we are with the Windsor Utilities Commission.

Debacles of the past like the Cleary, Canderel, MFP, recent projects like the Tunnel Ventilation Building, 400 City Hall Square and ongoing projects such as the Arena would all be subject to the critical eye of an independent Auditor General. No spin, no inflation or otherwise adjusted numbers to confuse, simply the cold hard facts of how your tax dollars are being managed or mis-managed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Big Box Mart

Canadians regularly display disdain for Americans, their policies, politicians and practices. Windsorites continue to elect NDP representatives who revel in lecturing us about the great evil American empire, yet our City Council can't wait to emulate one of the biggest failed development strategies of the US.

Around Town Tuesday - Oct 30th

1. Cancer Prevention Fall Forum - Caboto Club, Thursday Nov. 1st, 7pm

2. The "Taste of Downtown" Harvest Luncheon raises money for the Chrysler Share Drive organization which buy food items for the Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Downtown Mission. This event features the 18pc Kingsville Jazz Ensemble, delicious food prepared by Downtown's own local eateries and a retailers' exhibits. This year is the 6th anniversary of the
event which has raised nearly $23,000 for these charities.

Wednesday Oct 31st, 11:30am - St. Clair Centre for the Arts

3. Keep an eye out in Ward 2 for theft and vandalism.

4. Slowly but surely. M.O.M. with an update on the Club Loft condos.

5. Hold on to your wallets - here we grow again.

6. The 1% of GST that Mayor Francis and his fellow Ontario Mayors have been lobbying for is available, they've just been talking to the wrong person up until now.

7. Out of Town note: Congratulations to blogger and Mayor of Dawson for being selected best Mayor North of 60. (A mayor who blogs? Ours is stilling trying to find the send button for that "fireside chat email". )

8. Only six days to the start of the Windsor International Film Festival. Have you got your tickets yet?

9. Last day to vote in the latest Shadow Poll - Who's Your Favorite Windsor Star Blogger (Round 1). Register your opinion in the right hand sidebar.

10. Terrace 285 - Open House Thursday Nov 1st and Friday Nov 2nd 10:00am to 1:30pm

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quick Hits - Monday October 22th

1. Considering the traffic to my own blog over the last several days, Windsor Star Blogger Chris Vander Doelen's most successful blog could very well be the one that no longer officially exists.
Edit: Chris reveals that there was no nefarious plot, just a case of second thought.

2. ...Scale Down Windsor steps up to the plate at Council this Monday night. Best wishes.

3. Looks like one of my favourite pet peeves, the annual Ward Lottery Fund is being revamped. I'm not sure of the details as yet, as I haven't seen the draft referred to in the report(page 2).

4. No review of Council Remuneration necessary at this time(page 4). (including the "temporary" increased payments from the Windsor Utilities Commission).
Now that we have a new Canadian Census available both the Ward Boundaries and Remuneration are two topics that should be up for public discussion and debate.

5. Only two days left to vote in the latest Shadow Poll - Who's your favourite Windsor Star blogger? A runoff between the top two will be held later on in the week. (poll is located in the right sidebar)

6. 48(+1) Hour FlickFest rolls on. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the results of this competition are.

7. has a calendar? Who knew? :)
Their calendar will now be featured in the top left sidebar of WE Speak. The events will updated every four hours and all link back to the main site. Don't ya just love Web 2.0? Drop them a line if you have an event.

8. The Shadow has been joined by a Watchdog. This neighbourhood is getting interesting.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

"The "business bitch" is back."

And all I can say is not soon enough:
(Edit: I received an email from a confused reader who missed part of what I bolded. The article below refers to Hamilton, but can easily happen in any municipality in Ontario)

Unions feed at the trough
Hard-working families take tax hit

Insiders say city officials were shocked to find out that on Sept. 12 the Ontario Labour Relations Board officially certified the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA), Local 18, as the bargaining agent for all construction carpentry work. How it came about was two of four carpenters employed by the city voted to certify, in what some say is a new expansion strategy for the union.

Big deal, you may think, it's only four employees, who do odd jobs for the city.

Well, think again. The ramifications are huge.

Now this union has control of every construction job under city auspices -- meaning only Brotherhood unionized contractors can bid on city work, shutting out non-unionized shops and workers.

Put another way: The city has a list of 260 large construction contractors.

Only 17, or 7%, are members of UBCJA, who can bid on jobs.

And this monopoly will cost big time. A report by city solicitor Gary Kuzyk estimates this monopoly could cost city coffers $4 million to $10 million a year. It's also expected to add up to $440 million to the $1.1-billion cost of critical upgrades to Hamilton's water and waste facilities.

Here's what this carpenter's union pays, according to a schedule negotiated by the provincial government: An hourly rate of $32.16; vacation pay at $3.22, health fee $2.50, retiree subsidy 10 cents, pension $6, for a total of $43.98 an hour. Then there's a union administration fee of 25 cents, an apprentice fund fee of 54 cents and $1.36 for the carpenters promotion fund.

A view from the other side of the border

Just something I came across from Google Alerts:

Windsor Arena a classic
When I crossed the border into Canada I was asked why I was visiting our neighbors to the north. When I told the border patrolman that I was visiting the Windsor Arena he asked me why I was coming all the way from Indianapolis to see a Spits game. I guess too many people do not drive 4 ½ hours to see..... (October 27th, 2007) More...

Note: only two more days left to vote in the first round for your Favourite Windsor Star Blogger. Poll is located in the right hand sidebar.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Silencing dissent

Edit: Chris reveals that there was no nefarious plot, just a case of second thought.

A word to the wise to all the Editors at the Windsor Star, City Hall and anywhere else that someone might be inclined to alter what's been posted on the Internet.

Google Cache is highly effective, especially if you're posting on a site owned by a large media corporation.

Windsor Star Automotive columnist and blogger Chris Vander Doelen posted a blog Thursday afternoon at 5:14 pm - U of W Engineering Bldg Won't Fit Downtown Site. The blog was highly critical of the Mayor, City Council and their efforts regarding the downtown. Well, you don't need me to tell you, you can read it yourself.

For some reason, the blog no longer appears on the Windsor Star site.

A few months ago, we had stormy City Council meetings, news articles and editorials because Alan Halberstadt changed one word on his blog. What will the reaction be when an entire article is being censored?

Word to the wise for those posting on the internet. If you're going to edit a blog substantially or make it disappear altogether, it's incumbent on you to explain why. It's one thing to edit pieces for grammar or spelling, it's another to edit or censor for political reasons. Nothing ever really disappears on the internet.

Editorial Advertising

I'm a member of a group of companies that makes very unique widgets. Our widgets are so unique that the Government of Ontario is thinking about buying billions of them over the next several years.

I wonder if the Windsor Star will allow me to submit a column for it's Editorial pages extolling the virtues of my group of companies? It would certainly save my group of companies a lot of money compared to actually paying for advertising.

Sound far-fetched?

Lobbying for Border solutions

Unfortunately, it's not the Windsor/Detroit border that's being talked about.
Niagara delegation to Parliament Hill stresses region's importance
Lobbying focuses on need for more cash on variety of fronts

Although the faces and topics changed by the hour, the focus of the lobbying week remained constant: dollars for Niagara.

Money for border infrastructure upgrades and border policing.

Dollars for grape growers and a planned new bioscience building at Brock University.

“I think across the board, we were well-received,” said Partington, who returned Thursday from Ottawa after the series of meetings held Monday through Wednesday.

“I think (federal politicians) appreciate the message and the face-to-face meetings.”

Niagara West-Glanbrook Conservative MP Dean Allison agreed.

“MPs deal with thousands of calls and e-mails every week,” he said. “A face-to-face meeting really drives it home, leaves a lasting impression.”

Regional officials met with a slew of ministers, including Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Environment Minister John Baird.

St. Catharines Conservative MP Rick Dykstra said he felt Niagara officials left a positive impression on government ministers.

He also thought local politicians were able to take away some positive messages, too.

For example, the Region is asking to be officially recognized as an economic gateway to Canada.

That message made it through, Dykstra said.

“I think (the government) has an understanding that Niagara ranks up there with Windsor and Vancouver as important gateways to this country,” he said.
Edit: a local cynic emailed me the observation that Windsor could do the same kind of lobbying visit to Ottawa, it's just that they'd be meeting with Joe Comartin, Brian Masse and Jack Layton. Hardly worth the trip

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hurts when the shoe is on the other foot, doesn't it

The Mayor is "exasperated"? Where was he when the University was trying to raise funds for the stadium?

Why is it that every other stadium linked to an international event in Canada, except Windsor, over the last 6 years has received Provincial and Federal funding?

How many officials at the Provincial and Federal level has the Mayor snubbed over the last several years?

Last, but not least, when's the last time you saw an opinion columnist with the lead banner headline in a major newspaper? Did the Windsor Star run short of reporters last night? Gord has now officially moved from the "Greatest Canadian Municipal Political Cheerleader" to top three in the "North American Ass Kissing" contest. Bit by bit, one day at a time, the Windsor Star sheds what little credibility it once had in the community.

"Fed up with its inability to get straight answers" - Boy, doesn't that line sound familiar.

In related news, "cluster" is certainly one term for it, with the suffix being unprintable.

Alice in Wonderland PT II

The issues may be slightly different, but if you stop and think about it, this blog sounds surprisingly similar to another municipality I know of.

Open, transparent and accountable municipal government remains a childhood fantasy in Ontario befitting an Alice in Wonderland sequel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Who reigns supreme?

All work and no play makes Jack Paul a very dull boy.

The Windsor Star has been experimenting for a year now with bloggers. Several have fallen by the wayside, while others have been added.

I haven't done a Shadow Poll in a while, so I thought it might be fun to do a little survey on what people think of the Star blogs.

I've listed the bloggers below in the order they appear on the Star's blog page. Take some time to visit the blogs, if you haven't already, and then vote for your favourite (Poll is located in the right sidebar). After the first round I'll have a runoff for the top two bloggers to select the Blogger's Favourite.

You can post any thoughts, likes or dislikes about the various blogs in the comments.

Cars, the automotive industry, trees, gardening -- and a little politics, just for levity. Vander Doelen covers the auto industry in Windsor and Detroit full time. On his own time he dotes over a small woodlot near Harrow with his wife, who is also a journalist.

Reel Life
Roberta Pennington has been a general assignment reporter with The Windsor Star since 2005, covering everything from youth culture to municipal politics. When she's not "hard at work" doing the coolest job ever, she watches a lot of quirky films, attends various theatrical performances and, well, that's pretty much all she does. Then she sometimes writes about it here.

Off the Hill
Sharon Hill can write entire emails in Scooby-Doo speak (Rhy rot?); loves Dilbert and The Office and wants to share her quest to find the quirky, the off-beat and the fun in the midst of daily life. She began writing for The Windsor Star in high school and has dedicated her career to covering Essex County and agriculture.

Pearson to Person
Montreal native Craig Pearson has worked at three daily newspapers over 20 years, has handled many beats from news and sports to entertainment and pop culture, holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, a master's degree in communication studies, teaches writing and reporting at the University of Windsor, and still cannot explain the meaning of life. But he'll give it a try anyway.

Ted Whipp is the galloping gourmet of The Windsor Star. Discerning palates look to his restaurant reviews and coverage of the food and beverage industry each Wednesday in the Life section.

Duffer's Dabbles
Bob Duff is the Windsor Star's sports columnist and one of the country's foremost hockey historians. He has written or collaborated on six hockey books or CD-Roms, including History of Hockeytown, the first official history of the Detroit Red Wings. A goalie by trade, Duff is also a consultant for the NHL's official statistician the Elias Sports Bureau.

Life on Tour
I don't know whether my passion for golf is an addiction or an affliction but the game has certainly got me by the balls. I guess you could say I've found religion. I read about golf, think about golf, dream about golf and I'm going to blog about it this summer while I test my skills against other obsessive weekend duffers on Windsor's Bogey Tour.

Running Chatter
Monica Wolfson has been a reporter for a decade, mostly covering politics and education. She has been running on and off for 12 years and completed her first marathon in February.

Even statues have bad days

Can't blame this one on the pigeons.

Complete story at Maggie's Farm

H/T Dust My Broom

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Council Dance

Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!
Jib Jab is simply brilliant!

Around Town Tuesday - Oct 23rd

1. Cancer Prevention - Walk the Talk...Live Well. A fall Cancer Prevention forum at the Caboto Club.

2. CJAM 91.5 fm Annual Pledge Drive - online donations available through the front page of the site. (H/T Windsor Eats)

3. Mark the dates on your calendar - Windsor International Film Festival coming soon to a theatre near you. Budding local film makers have the opportunity to make their own mark in the 48HRFLICKFEST. $20 bucks for a weekend of fun, an opportunity at recognition and some nice prizes. That's entertainment for you!

4. I found myself practicing my PhotoShop skills after last night's Council meeting. I know, I still need a lot more practice, but you'll get the idea.

5. Comic Relief - Make sure you take a minute today to read BC comics and Rube in today's Windsor Star. If you watched City Council last night, you'll understand. Good chuckle for the day.

Someone had to speak up

Well, I had my five minutes at Council last night, for what it's worth. The outcome was about as I expected. The report was accepted as presented. What was truly surprising to me was to hear several Councillors express their wish to implement all the positions and in their view the way to do that was to move forward with the report.

I wonder - did they read the report? In what way is it "moving forward" with the Ombudsman position when the report recommends doing nothing other than monitoring what other Municipalities do?

On one hand we're going to monitor and study what other municipalities are doing, while at the same time we're going to duplicate what's already been done in Toronto by initiating a voluntary Lobbyist registry for one year. At the end of that time period, we're going to study it some more to determine whether or not to proceed. Funniest line of the evening - Toronto has a problem with Lobbyists, but that's not really an issue in Windsor.

The Auditor General position gets it's referral to the Audit Committee for study along with two other internal audit questions. The Mayor expressed his hope that the Committee's report would return to Council on a "timely" basis. Given City Time TM, we should expect this to come back before Council for consideration sometime in January of 2008, if we're lucky. By then, the 2008 Budget will be nearing or already approved. Ooops - to late for this year. If Council really wants to demonstrate their commitment to these positions then they will earmark an appropriate amount of funds in this year's budget for the establishment of an Auditor General's office.

One further note on the Auditor General that I had to drop out of my presentation last night. Although Police, Library and Health Boards are explicitly exempt from the Auditor General the Toronto Boards have already seen the value of the Auditor General to their organization and voluntarily invited the office to begin audits. Their intention is to lobby the Province for the removal of these restrictions when the City of Toronto Act comes up for review.

The one position that did pass last night was the Integrity Commissioner. The position with the least amount of relevance to the average taxpayer received wholehearted support from most at Council. If Councillors were frustrated with Alan Halberstadt's recitation of examples from Toronto, they should actually visit the website and read all the reports. Frustration will be the least of their worries now that they have created this position. "Inside the Expressway" political football doesn't even begin to describe what awaits.

Hat tip to Councillor Halberstadt for requesting separate votes on each one of the eight recommendations. I'm still trying to figure out what mental cartwheels were required by the various Councillors who so eloquently spoke about the need to create all of these positions, but then voted to do virtually nothing.

Congratulations to Council on successfully hiding behind an administration report yet again. We so often speak of the need for Windsor to lead the Province instead of following. Last night we looked the situation squarely in the eye and ran the other way as fast as the votes could be counted. My only hope is that there are some municipalities in this Province who truly do wish to lead and will create all of the various positions. If someone else leads, Windsor will surely follow, eventually.

Edit: Well, here's the first municipality to step up to the plate. Congratulations to Markham on leading the way.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Quick Hits - Monday October 22nd

1. I guess the appointment of the WUC auditor and Terms of Reference just isn't news in Windsor. I'm sure that makes most of Council and the WUC pretty happy.
Edit: H/T to CBC Radio's Gino Conte - first mention I've heard of the audit in the local media.

2. 311 - moving on and moving up, up, up. Why am I getting the feeling that this year's budget is going to include more people for 311/211 due to "unexpected call volumes". Read the Council report. I especially loved the justification for individual offices for 311 supervisors. Try working a shop floor with a 6' x 8' office shared by 3 supervisors overseeing 40 to 60 employees each. Are all the moving and installation costs going to be shared WRT 211 and the County/United Way?

3. I'm hoping for some last minute delegations for Item 9 on the agenda. I'm somewhat surprised and sad at the same time. Such an important issue regarding future effective governance in Windsor and so little interest.

4. Yet another reason why Frank Stronach is a VERY rich man.
"Why would Magna accept even the kind of quiescent "company union" that's fairly common in Asia and Europe, and understandably regarded with contempt by "real" unions in North America? Because with quasi-union status, Magna enhances its prospects... "


Saturday, October 20, 2007

The race is on

I guess at some point, someone in the Windsor media will decide that this is news.

On the other hand, I could be mistaken. You never know, there might be a tiddlywinks competition in town this weekend.

I guess the Mayor's PR department had better things to do.

Friday, October 19, 2007

WUC Auditor named and terms of reference published

After posting my previous blog, I checked the Council Communication for this week and found the relevant details.

Council Communications - Part 2


Auditor - Grant Thornton LLP

Timeline - audit to begin as soon as possible. Will last for approximately 3 to 4 weeks.

Cost - $156,610 (expected amount)

Scope: (click on pic for full size)

An independent Windsor Auditor General would already be at work

As the days continue to pass by, still no word on when a Municipal Audit is going to begin and what the terms of reference are going to be.

In the meantime, Windsor Star reporter and blogger Don McArthur is continuing his assault on Fortress Enwin. His Freedom of Information request is proceeding, slowly, but it is proceeding.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just because...

Electing NDP MP's has done so well for Windsor over the last 3 to 4 years.
Mention in speech buoys mayor

Masse doesn't share Francis's optimism. "I think why they mentioned it at all is a shot at the province," Masse said, suggesting the mention pressures the province to make more of a commitment toward a Windsor border solution.

Masse said he fears the province will "cheap out" on the access route to the new crossing, approving something less than what Windsor is demanding with its $1.6-billion GreenLink proposal. And the federal government would then feel justified to do the same on the crossing itself and plaza.

"It's always nice to be mentioned, but what is needed is real action."

I couldn't agree more Brian, but the biggest problem is, you can never deliver any "action". Even when you had the opportunity, with Paul Martin, to leverage solutions for Windsor you and Joe decided to vote in lockstep with your party instead of your riding.

The Last Defence of the Bureaucracy

When all else fails, let's not get innovative or creative, simply reach for the bottom line and find the option that produces the most pain and therefore the most political pressure.

Library Service Cuts OK'd

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Don't belive me?

When it comes to whether or not Windsor needs an Auditor General how about the opinion of Windsor's current Auditor:

City auditor Mike Dunbar, who reports to council and senior administrators, is among those who agree the city needs an auditor general, citing the previous MFP scandal and the current concerns around WUC's finances.

"We always believe there should be an independent set of eyes," said Dunbar.

"If there was an auditor general here, they would be empowered to conduct an inquiry, something we can't do. It has certain powers that are advantageous."

Use of an auditor general role is prominent in municipalities across Quebec, but has been slow to catch on in Ontario, Dunbar said. But he sees that changing thanks to the Municipal Act being reworked.

In Toronto, the city's auditor general is empowered to conduct audits in the areas of compliance, finances, value-for-money and the environment, and can undertake investigations around suspected fraudulent activities.

Kudos to Mike Dunbar for speaking out on this issue when he did. Does anyone else find it strange that Mr. Dunbar wasn't consulted for input on this report? On the Auditor issue you would think he would have highly relevant knowledge and experience to impart to Council.

Councillor Bill Marra is on record:

"An independent review of municipal affairs will go a long way to giving the public confidence," said Coun. Bill Marra, who earlier this year requested a report from administration on the issue.

"The federal and provincial governments are subject to it, so it makes no sense that it doesn't exist at the municipal level in Windsor."

This is one issue that needs to be discussed and debated in public before Council make their decision at next Monday's meeting. If we wait until after the fact it will be too late.

Where does your Councillor stand? Take the time now to email or call them and find out. Let them know your opinion.

Three Card Monte - Windsor Style


The three-card Monte game itself is very simple. To play, a dealer places three cards face down on a table. (The table is often nothing more than a cardboard box, providing the ability to set up and disappear quickly.) The dealer shows that one of the cards is the target card, for example, the Queen of Spades, and then rearranges the cards quickly to confuse the player about which card is which. The player is then given an opportunity to select one of the three cards. If the player correctly identifies the Queen of Spades, he wins an amount equal to the stake he bets; otherwise, he loses his stake.
Windsor's version of the three card Monte game revolves around a report coming before Council on the 22nd of October - Accountability, Transparency & Good Government - Implementing the Bellamy Report Recommendations and Bill 130, The Municipal Statute Law Amendment Act, 2006 . This report deals with the establishment (or not) of the offices of Auditor General, Ombudsman, Integrity Commissioner and Lobbyist Registrar. In addition, the report recommends hiring Local Authority Services Ltd as the Meeting Investigator as stipulated by the Municipal Act changes.

For the most part, I disagree with just about everything recommended in this report. The report wasn't all that much of a surprise. I first blogged about this back in February of this year. One of the commenters on that post even predicted then a possible outcome -

Anonymous said...

- An integrity commissioner to enforce ethical matters, including a code of conduct for council.

Could this be used against Councillors that "blog" - I'm envisioning a "Garth Turner" moment for Alan if this is the case.

Alan himself blogged about this in June of this year - Censorship Commissioner? and Here's to you Jackie Robinson

The Meetings Investigator is basically mandated by the Province. This is someone to investigate complaints about issues discussed In-Camera by Council that someone believes may be contravening the Act. If a Municipality doesn't hire their own investigator the duties default to the Ontario Ombudsman. As I noted above, the Windsor report recommends hiring Local Authority Services Ltd to perform this function. From what I understand, this is an initiative of the AMO. Given the choice between Ontario's Ombudsman on their doorstep and hiring their own investigator the hire your own choice seems like an easy pick for Council.

The two positions with the most potential value to Windsor Taxpayers - the Auditor General and the Ombudsman - are given short shrift in the report.

For the Auditor General the report recommends referring the issue to the City's Audit Committe for review and further study. To complicate matters, the direction to the audit committee is to also study internal auditing and consulting functions of other municipalities. If you factor in City of Windsor Time, this should all be completed sometime in the next 18 to 20 months. At that point it will come before Council and be deferred pending the next budget. If it manages to make it through the budget process, a six to ten month hiring process will then begin culminating in the hiring of Windsor's first Auditor General in September of 2010 - right before the next Muncipal Election.

The Ombudsman doesn't even get the benefit of further study. The direction is for administration to "monitor the need" for an Ombudsman, watch what's going on in other Municipalities and report back no later than December 31st, 2008.

The Lobbyist Registrar - no need for that pesky position either. We'll begin with a voluntary registry for one year and then - you guessed it - study it and evaluate it some more. For the first year, Windsor will do what Toronto did in it's first year. Councillors will carry around a registry and if they think someone's lobbying them, they'll ask them to sign the registry. This "registry" will be handed in monthly for public review.

The Integrity Commissioner, Code of Conduct, Complaint procedures and other related details take up the lion's share of the report. The sole purpose of the Integrity Commissioner is to rule on the Mayor and Councillors adherence to the Code of Conduct. The Mayor, Councillors, staff or citizens can file complaints if they believe the Mayor or a Councillor is violating the Code of Conduct.

If this report is adopted as written, Windsor will hire a glorified babysitter, paid for by the taxpayer, to spend all of their time worrying about whether Council is behaving itself.

Meanwhile, we will continue to study ad infinitum, whether or not there is any value to Windsorites in the positions of Auditor General or Ombudsman - the two appointments with real teeth and investigative powers.

Alice in Wonderland had it easy. She never visited Windsor.

PS. please don't mistake anything in this post, or any subsequent posts as being a criticism of administration in their creation of this report. The administration has created exactly the report that the Mayor and Council wanted - make no mistake about that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Around Town Tuesday - Oct 16th

1. Another Windsor Star blogger bites the dust. Gonzo Chronicles seems to have disappeared from the Star's blog list. On a good note, many of the Star's other bloggers seem to be hitting their stride. It takes time to develop both a style and a readership when blogging.

2. A topic to think about for future discussion - Ward boundary changes. Now that we have a new census in hand, this subject, along with a few others, is long overdue for some serious debate. I know, that's a rare thing in Windsor, but if we start now, we've still got three years left.

3. How's that WUC audit going? Aren't we all glad Council voted for the "faster" Municipal Audit instead of the Auditor General? Speaking of Auditor Generals - make sure you read next weeks Council Agenda. Acceptance of administration's report on Accountability, Transparency & Good Government will have long term ramifications for how our City is governed.

4. My friend says one shameless plug isn't enough - someone might have missed it. Theatre Windsor's "Hide and Seek" - October 18, 19, 20, 21 and 25, 26, 27, 28, 2007

5. Chris Holt's ... Scale Down, Windsor is fast becoming a must read in Windsor. While you may not agree with Chris and the other blogger's opinions on various issues, the blog exposes readers to new ideas or ways of looking at issues facing cities today. Stop in and join the discussion.

6. Screamer Radio - great little streaming radio program. Small, fast and easy to use. One click recording and great quality. Most of the local radio stations can be loaded up for easy listening. If anyone's interested I can send you my local favourites file to get you up and running.

7. Speech from the Throne for all the political junkies tonight. Must see TV at 7:00 pm.

8. Today's City of Windsor Greenlink Open House - Ward 4 Open House, Tuesday October 16, Gino A. Marcus Community Complex, 1168 Drouillard - 5 to 9pm

Tomorrow is Open Thread day. If you have a cause, event or website you're looking to plug, let me know.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Support your local festivals - Reason #42

Good example of why it pays to support local festivals. Canada's other Windsor seems to have the right idea.
The ninth Windsor-West Hants Pumpkin Regatta was the busiest yet, with 49 competitors in the paddling division.

But the race also went high profile with a number of media outlets on hand. A reporter from The Wall Street Journal flew into Nova Scotia to cover the race. He said he picked Windsor because he believed it was the largest pumpkin race in North America.

The show Glutton for Punishment on the Food Network was filming the event. Host Bob Blumer had bet Leo Swinimer Sr. that he would take his title. When Swinimer won, Blumer presented Swinimer with the rewards of the bet - a coffee and box of donuts from Tim Hortons.
"As soon as I met him I knew he would be no challenge," joked Swinimer.

Former Boston Bruins Bob Sweeney and Cleon Daskalakis also took part in the race as part of a show for the New England Sports Network. - Paul McLeod
The earned media for this event is worth it's weight in gold. By the time you add in local and regional media, you have PR worth tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Quick Hits - Monday October 15th

Now that all the holidays and Elections are out of the way, we can get back to somewhat of a normal schedule again. (until the next Election or holiday!)

1. 48 Hour Flick Fest - a great idea that the Windsor International Film Fest has made happen in a very short period of time.

2. Schedule of Open Houses for each Ward on the Greenlink Windsor plan.

3. Council Agenda for the week of the 22nd - certainly a full agenda. Much more to come on this.

4. Thanks to Windsor for Sunday night's recipe. Simple but delicious. Beats the hell out of opening a box of Kraft Dinner.

5. We do like to study things in Windsor, in the meantime one operator has a virtual monopoly on bingo business, with no threat of competition. We have an operator willing to risk his own money to renovate a currently empty building, hire employees and open for business. Let's study this some more.

6. All About Cities is a new blog I came across recently. "Tales of two border cities" is an interesting discussion on Windsor and Detroit. Through All About Cities, I also found CEO's for Cities. Lots of good reading. (I've added All About Cities to

7. Shameless plug for a friend. Theatre Windsor's "Hide and Seek" - October 18, 19, 20, 21 and 25, 26, 27, 28, 2007. Support your local theatre!

8. Wishful thinking with a slightly misleading title that I was tempted to use. Good example to demonstrate that, contrary to some opinions, local citizens are becoming more engaged and blogs are one of the vehicles of choice for communication.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Challenge to Windsor Filmmakers in 48 hours

A possible new addition to the Windsor International Film Festival - A 48 HR Film Festival.
Note: this idea is not a done deal yet, but in the exploratory phase.
"Sorry for the double post but I have to be clear that this group is solely for gaging expressions of Interest. A Final decision will not be announced until we can ensure the ability to hold the event properly. Let us know if you believe that you can put together a team in time and we will announce a final decision and more info by Friday.

Thank You for your support and understanding."

Mark Mark Boscariol
This is a great idea to add more local content to the Festival and an opportunity for local filmakers to show their stuff. If you're a local business or supporter of the arts, consider donating towards this endeavour.
From the FaceBook group:

A Challenge to Windsor Filmmakers in 48 hours

We’ve all bitched and complained about the film situation here as well as each other; thus leaving our film community very much divided. Many feel the city has shown little support or care for the film arts community but we have a chance to show them what we can do. There are many people in the community that are trying to build things up together so we can all be seen and heard. There is a great opportunity that will allow anyone who is a Windsor filmmaker to show there stuff to the city and who knows how far else the project could expand to. The Windsor Film Festival is in talks to put together a 48-hour film festival Nov. 2-4 and the winners will be screened during the festival. There will also be different prizes such as a local filmmaker package that will help get you the things you need to make your next film.

There are people who feel that the city does not have the talent or interest to make this happen but we can show that just how talented the city is.

If you interested let me know facebook, email whatever works for you. If you haven’t done a 48-hour festival it’s an amazing rush and challenge for a filmmaker. Lets drop our swords work together and instead of using our words let our films speak for themselves. A bit preachy I know but if we work together there is no telling where we can take this. If you have any questions ask away.

What you’ll need to find is a small team: or if you want you can just find actors and do the camera stuff yourself or even act yourself if your really up for it. Get that locked down and then on Friday Nov, 2 you’ll be given what has to be in the film and have till Nov 4th to put it all together. The films will be anywhere between 2-4 mins long and for those saying that’s to short trust me it’s not. Part of the challenge is to make a great film at that length.

Contact Info

More info at Reel Life - Part One and Part Two. Time may be short to include this idea for this year's festival. If it's not possible for this year, it would be a welcome addition to future festivals.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Excuse me...

while I finish choking after reading Gord's latest missive from upon high.

I'm a partisan with the best of them. No secret here. In this particular election I supported and worked for Kristine Robinson. I designed and ran her website, amongst other things. There were no illusions as to the ultimate result, but reading Gord's column on a day like today tends to bring the bile to the fore.

Follow his logic and explain to me why the area continues to elect federal NDP members of Parliament. If voting locally is all about bringing home the pork, as Gord so eloquently describes, why are we represented by Joe Comartin and Brian Masse? (with the usual endorsement of Gord and company at the Windsor Star and AM800).

Sandra Pupatello I have a lot of respect for, Dwight Duncan would sell your Grandmother for political gain. Listening to Dwight's victory speech - "it's a tribute to the honesty and integrity of Dalton McGuinty" ? There's a difference between party loyalty and utter bullshit.

How many of you have a spare $1000.00 dollars for a round of golf with Energy Minister Duncan or another $1700.00 for dinner with Premier Dalton McGuinty ? Spanky always comes up smelling like roses, but personally, if I ever had a problem to deal with, my first phone call would be Sandra.

Opinions, they say, are like another body part, we all have one.

That's just mine for today.

Edit: I forgot to include in this post my congratulations to all the other candidates in Windsor-Tecumseh. Running in "foregone conclusion" ridings is a thankless task. Kristine increased the vote by over 5% from the previous election (almost 8% if you include the FCP vote). Andrew McAvoy also ran an excellent campaign for a political newcomer. I look forward to seeing him again in the 2011 race. Listening to AM800's coverage, you'd have thought that the NDP did well in Windsor-Tecumseh, despite losing over 5% of the popular vote from the previous election. Credit where credit is due.

/rant off

41% turnout ? - we should all hang our heads in shame.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Around Town Tuesday - on Wednesday

Windsor Star blogger Donald MacArthur with probably the best comment on today's Provincial Election. (and most likely the most accurate prediction of the results).

Windsor WiFi Hotspots - know of any not on Tedd Whipp's list?

Windsor International Film Fest - Facebook group ON FIRE! - 51 members last week, 477 this week.

Shameless plug - - Municipal politicians and others blogging from across the country.

WE - apologies for the technical difficulties of the last several days. Murphy's law kicked in the minute I left town for Thanksgiving. Started with server problems that required a complete restore of the site. When the restore was done, the CRON jobs I use to pull the content for WE Speak no longer functioned. Everything should ticking along again now.

Don't forget to Vote today. Democracy only works if you make yourself heard!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Windsor door frames need emergency expansion

Seems a certain swelled head is having a hard time moving around today

Immigrants must obey the rules

Stephen Harper may be issuing Napoleonic ultimatums, Stephane Dion might be Diefenbakered any day and John Tory may soon be back in the cable business, but Eddie Francis is suddenly the country's most important politician.

The "Not in Windsor" News

Have your say on City services

OSHAWA -- City of Oshawa residents will soon have the opportunity to provide feedback on their municipal services.

Over the next three years, the City's auditor general will be reviewing a number of City services to determine the best way to deliver them and identify opportunities for improvement.

"Other municipalities have implemented similar reviews to help identify the priorities of residents, optimize service delivery and better plan for the future needs of their communities," said Auditor General Ron Foster.

Oshawa residents will be randomly selected to complete anonymous surveys that will address the quality and level of City services. The auditor general will oversee 18 reviews, starting this fall with the waste collection program.

Mayor talks to Ward 3 residents

PICKERING -- Seaton, traffic and the future of Pickering's downtown were some topics residents fired at the mayor on Monday night.

A smaller crowd than the other two meetings generated - around 30 - attended the Ward 3 Town Hall meeting, but still had questions for Mayor Dave Ryan.

Louise Sabino complimented the City for its speedy response to a concern she had reported, but also asked about gaps in sidewalks along Kingston Road.

"You see people using GO Transit, using the system, on the main thoroughfare, and having to walk on gravel," she said.

Mayor Ryan said sidewalk development typically occurs alongside development in that same area.

Solving the brown water problem in Espanola
Water and sewer rates will almost double

By Nadine Schofield
Local News - Monday, September 24, 2007 Updated @ 10:45:27 AM

Water and sewer rates are expected to almost double over the next five years in Espanola. Users are now paying $75 per month for water, storm and sewer facilities and services, but that is expected to almost double to $141 by 2012. The increase is due to a proposed multi-million dollar retrofit project the town will be publicizing in October.

The Town of Espanola will be hosting public meetings next month on a proposed $50-million dollar retrofit of water, storm and sewer lines within the municipality.

“The community is inviting ratepayers to attend two public sessions to discuss how the town should proceed with plans to replace some of the 27 kilometers of pipes,” said Joel Yusko, Espanola’s Public Work Manager.

The town’s Community Services Committee met on Tuesday, September 18 followed by a meeting of the Community Economic Development Committee (CEDAC) on Thursday, September 20 to discuss the issue.

Council looking at lighting switch

Municipal Council Briefs

Booster staff
Wednesday September 26, 2007
Jasper municipal council is currently looking at changing the way residents and visitors will see the town at night.
Whether to support dark sky friendly lighting or not is a topic council discussed at its regularly-scheduled meeting last week.
Two new options for street lights address two forms of what some consider polution.
One is sky glow, the bright orange glow around cities that makes it difficult to see stars, and trespass light, the light that seeps onto residents’ properties.
If the lights are installed, it will cost $500 for each one, as council will have to pay the difference between Atco’s standard decorative light and the dark sky friendly light.

If all the lights in town were changed to this style, it would cost $260,000.
Lights are only replaced as needed.

Intermunicipal User Cost-Sharing: Municipally Excellent Practice
RYLEY -- Usage statistics and other data were used to develop an inter-municipal cost sharing agreement among Beaver County and area municipalities. Another excellent practice recently posted on MEnet, Alberta's municipal excellence network. (

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Provincial Election Information - Update

Windsor West

Liberal Party of Ontario - Sandra Pupatello

Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario - Lisa Lumley

New Democratic Party of Ontario - Mariano Klimowicz

Green Party - Jason Haney


Liberal Party of Ontario - Dwight Duncan

Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario - Kristine Robinson (RSS feeds available)

New Democratic Party of Ontario - Helmi Chariff

Green Party - Andrew McAvoy

Family Coaliton Party - John Curtin


Liberal Party of Ontario - Bruce Crozier

New Democratic Party of Ontario - John Grima

Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario - Richard Kniaziew

Libertarian - Aaron Parent

Green Party - Jessica Fracassi

Chatham-Kent Essex

Liberal Party of Ontario - Pat Hoy

New Democratic Party of Ontario - Murray Gaudreau

Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario - Doug Jackson

Family Coalition Party - Mark Morin

Green Party - Ken Bell

Ya gotta like a guy like this

The more I learn about Industry Minister Jim Prentice, the more impressed I am.
Minister 'surprised' by border delay
CanWest News Service
Published: 1:50 am

WINDSOR, Ont. - Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice had himself shipped across the Windsor-Detroit border "like an auto part" on Wednesday to find out what kind of barriers Canadian export goods are subjected to en route to the U.S.

His verdict: Prentice was "extremely surprised" the federal government hasn't addressed Windsor's border situation.

Prentice found himself cooling his heels for 45 minutes on the U.S. side of the Ambassador Bridge in the cab of a transport truck headed to Michigan. The truck he rode in was even in an express lane. Prior to 9/11, the same border crossing used to take about five minutes.

"I learned a lot," said Prentice.

Just a tease...

Opening Night Screening of the Windsor International Film Festival :

Clement Virgo’s searing sixth feature Poor Boy’s Game. A riveting film that resonates and challenges the unspoken racial tension that underlies much of our society, Poor Boy’s Game uses boxing as an analogy for the struggle of communities to understand and live with one another arguing that revenge results only in loss, while forgiveness is the path to victory.

Tick, Tick, Tick

We're now in the 7th week since the infamous "motion from the chair" of Mayor Eddie Francis to initiate an audit from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs into the Windsor Utilities Commission. One of the main reasons cited by Mayor Francis when explaining his motion was the need for speed in this process. The public's mistrust in Council and the WUC was so critical that it was unacceptable to wait the stated 8 weeks before the Auditor General could initiate an inquiry. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs audit, we were told, would begin immediately, which was essential to restore the public trust in the WUC.

As noted above, 7 weeks later and all we have to show for it? :

Audit bid 'backward'
An update on progress of the audit was provided Monday in the form of a written letter from the regional director of municipal services for the ministry.

A pool of "pre-screened, qualified accounting firms" have already been contacted and were requested to submit a bid to conduct the WUC audit, according to the letter from Micheline Riopelle.

The process to submit bids closed Sept. 23 and ministry staff are evaluating the applications, she said.

Doesn't everyone feel warm and fuzzy knowing that the speedy and expedited process by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs is progressing so well. As we head into next week with no auditor and no terms of reference published, the choice of a Ministry Audit as opposed to an Audtior General's Audit becomes exposed for nothing more than the political manouevering that it was.

Make no mistake, the terms of reference for this audit will make or break political careers in Windsor for years to come. While Councillor Ken Lewenza frets about watering lawns in Windsor with bottled water, the average citizen is still trying to figure out how to pay for this political fiasco.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The "Spin" isn't working so lets try changing the channel...

From the AM800 website:
TAP WATER VS. BOTTLED WATER 2007-10-02 21:56:10
The Chair of the Windsor Utilities Commission is asking for a report on the benefits of tap water compared with bottled water.Ward 4's Ken Lewenza Junior thinks city council can set an example by showing the benefits of the city's drinking water.
No auditor named, no terms of reference published. Details to follow after the completion of the Provincial Election.

W.Act Legal Fund has been established. Donation details available here. Facebook group for those that do.

Open Thread

Open Threads are the blogosphere's version of Open Mic night. Here's your opportunity to plug your favourite cause, event or blog post. If you have something of interest you'd like to share - drop a link in the comments or email me. I'll be updating the post throughout the day.

1. Windsor International Film Festival - Facebook explosion! Since yesterday's post, the WIFF Facebook group has grown by 64 members. Several people have emailed me to ask why I keep posting about this. Think about it in Marketing terms. The average Facebook user has 150 friends. Each time you join a group or event, most of your Facebook friends "see" you joining. With 84 current members, that's over 12,000 views of the WIFF group. The growth can be exponential with each new member. What would a flyer to 12000 people cost to promote the event?

2. Bookfest Windsor - The annual BookFestWindsor (formerly the Windsor Festival of the Book) celebrates all facets of the book, combining author readings, interviews and signings with workshops on book arts, book collecting and publishing—as well as lectures on various aspects of book history and production. The festival is a celebration of the book in all forms, from the art of book binding to the joy of reading and the freedom of expression. ... a unique local festival ...

3.Raise-a-Reader Windsor The CanWest Raise-a-Reader campaign is an award-winning national fundraising initiative of the CanWest Global Foundation. It is a unique philanthropic program that increases awareness and raises money and other resources in support of family literacy programs throughout Canada. DONATE ONLINE








Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Around Town Tuesday - Oct 2nd

Congrats to the International Film Festival Facebook group - 30 new members this week for a total of 51. Bookfest is still leading though, with 104 members. Support your local festivals. If you're a Facebook member, join these groups and keep up to date on what's happening in Windsor. Invite your friends.

Got WiFi? Windsor Star blogger Ted Whipp with a list of locations for Downtown Windsor. If you know of other locations, add them in the comments. Share the wealth!

Surprise, surprise. First response of an entrenched bureaucracy when faced with cuts - find the nastiest cuts to service that you can think of to suitably scare the public. Try turning off all the computers in the library each night. Should save a bundle in hydro costs.

WE Speak continues to grow. We're adding new and diverse voices to the site every week. See what your fellow citizens are blogging about.

Oops. Too late. If Councillors were worried about setting a grant precedent they should be taking a look at their own Ward Lotto Fund spending over the last several years. Parades, tournaments, Gospel Festivals, neighbourhood festivals... That horse already left the barn years ago

How's the Casino Construction going? Windsor Visuals with a photo update.

A recipe for development or disaster? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Got an event or cause to plug? Leave the details in the comments. I'll update the post today and add some to an open thread I'll be posting on Wednesdays.

Mayor Francis practicing for his comedy career...

Or is that a future in modern dance?

Mayor Francis sounds frustrated that the Bridge Company is doing to him what he, Council and Administration do to the citizens of Windsor on a regular basis.

If we want to talk about "dancing", Francis is the Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly of Windsor municipal politics, all rolled into one.
Twin bridge would have 'no significant environmental effects': study
Sonja Puzic, The Windsor Star
Published: Monday, October 01, 2007

Francis said he can't understand why Ambassador Bridge officials are "dancing around" the city's requests for detailed information.

"We have been asking for and continue to ask for the detailed studies, so that we may be able to evaluate the impact on our community," Francis said. "Until we get those studies, it's really hard to comment on the issue."

Monday, October 01, 2007


To think of all the time, money and resources expended to get this blowhard elected is depressing. I'm looking forward to the 22nd century, if I live that long, as that will probably be the next time a Conservative will likely be elected in Essex. (not that I consider Watson a conservative - a principle challenged opportunist would be a more apt description)
McGuinty has cash for immigration:

MP Watson says part of $8B in federal funding is meant for refugee claims

"We have to keep this in context," Watson said. "So far, we are talking about just over 200 refugee claimants. This hasn't spiralled to any major flow. The number of refugee claimants is a bit of a red herring."

Watson said he hadn't commented on the issue earlier because it took him time to understand the complexities of the situation.
"This is a complex issue, and one that takes some learning and understanding," Watson said. "I can't be off-handed with a comment to the media. It takes time to do some learning and get some understanding. I am now at a point where I have some of my original questions answered and I can make a comment."

Duncan said taking three weeks to understand the situation means Watson is "behind everyone else in the community.

"It may not be a big thing to Mr. Watson, but this is an extraordinary situation for Windsor," he said. "What's important is that we quit playing political games and start working together."
Three weeks to come up with an answer that makes him look like a pompous ass and incompetent idiot at the same time. That takes a special talent.

As much as it pains me, I agree with Duncan. This isn't about politics, it's about finding solutions to a "complex" problem. That's why we pay MPs a significant amount of money and provide them with an office budget and staff.

Cross posted from BBS


It's the 1st of October and still no 211 service for Windsor. If you call the number, all you get is a recorded message that says "you are not authorized to call the number dialed".

The former Info Windsor operators were laid off in August. Has the community been without the service for a month now, or is Info Windsor still operating at a reduced level? The 973-INFO number is still in service.

We still haven't seen an operating agreement come before City Council.

From what I've heard the 3.5 positions authorized by Council are broken up as 1 full time administrator, 1 full time technical support and 3 part-time operators. Are the new operators all qualified yet? Will three be enough? What are the costs to out-source the remaining hours required to another 211 call centre? Are we already looking at adding additional people to the 211/311 call centre due to "increased call volumes"?

I've also heard that the 311 Call Centre has to move as space will no longer be available at Enwin. Will the joint operating agreement incorporate these costs, or will it be more funds Windsor has to spend alone?

Too many questions, too few answers. Par for the course in Windsor.

Speaking of communications - how's that "Blue Ribbon" Communications committee coming? Pretty silent on that front as well.