Friday, November 30, 2007

Join In

A worthwhile discussion.

I'll be posting my reply in the comments later on today.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Excuse me

... I think I'm going to be ill
"New Democratic MP Brian Masse who has done masterful work on the border file"
Well, I'll at least give Gord credit for delivering the best and deepest laugh that I've had in years. Loudest, most shrill, most useless press releases - but masterful? LMAO!
"Ward 1 Coun. Dave Brister, who played a pivotal role in the community fight against DRTP, is appalled by the timing of Marra's motion and the naivete of anyone who could be so easily convinced DRTP has capitulated."
Hmm..., yet another attack on someone who doesn't tow the line. How about the naivete of anyone who actually reads Gord Henderson's columns and believes them anymore? Why do we even need to buy the Windsor Star. If someone could just convince the Mayor to actually put out a Press Release we could dispense with waiting another day or two to read about it in Gord's column.

It would be especially helpful if Gord would disclose with every DRTP related article he writes that he lives and owns property along the proposed corridor, whatever it's intended use.

It was pretty obvious to regular Council watchers where this motion was going when Councillor Marra first attempted to move it. It certainly didn't escape the sarcastic comment of the Mayor.
My only hope is the end result of this will be one more Councillor who grows or discovers a backbone. Lord knows it's a piece of the anatomy that has been sorely missing from most elected officials of late.

Don't worry, be happy. We're going to spend $800,000 on branding Windsor this year. After that, everything will be alright.

BTW, I'll vote for this proposal around the same time that CAW 444 begins televising all it's internal discussions and debates. Grandstanding and pandering would be generous descriptions. Yet another example of how Councillor Lewenza wouldn't know what transparency truly is unless it smacked him upside the head. On the other hand, as Chair of the WUC, he could release all of the minutes being requested by Star reporter Don McArthur an d restore our faith.

Transparency isn't a trump card to be pulled out when you think it might be most useful, it should be an ingrained practice of everyday municipal business.

I know, I know, Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

LondonSpeak.ca



LondonSpeak.ca launches today, joining WESpeak as an alternative voice for the average citizen.

If you know of any bloggers in the London and surrounding area, let 'em know. The more the merrier!

A telling sign

Dismissal with disdain. About the same response as anyone with a dissenting opinion in Windsor generally receives. Instead of dismissing the report, the Mayor and Council should be embracing it. It's an objective report by a respected institute interested in advancing the public policy debate in Canada.

At the very least I hope the Mayor and City Treasurer take some time to read the report. They might actually see lines like this:
The ultimate objective of the LGPI (Local Government Performance Index) initiative is economic improvement. By opening up discussion and productive debate around the following three issues, an improvement process for local government will be fostered over the next several annual editions of the LGPI.

The issues are:
• Accounting standards and disclosure issues.
• Financial management practice and asset (activity) management.
• Municipal government culture: a product of the Eighties
This is the first in an annual series focusing on local government. It's an opportunity for Windsor to begin benchmarking ourselves against other municipalities in the country who are, for economic development purposes, our competition. If we can't begin to look at ourselves with a critical eye, we can't expect companies to be lining up to do business here. Our local officials may dismiss this report out of hand, but rest assured, companies who are doing their due diligence are not.

The authors acknowledge the difficulties in assessing municipalities across the country. This report is not meant to be a "who is in first and who is last" ranking.
The aim is not to rank cities but to explore strengths and weaknesses of different municipalities facing different challenges, based on hard financial and statistical data.
Maybe if we told the Mayor that this was a high-priced consultants report, he might be more interested in reading it. All the money in the world spent on "branding" and "selling" Windsor won't amount to anything if we don't begin focusing on the basic principles of municipal management.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What's up Doc?.

video

This statement by Councillor Brister struck me as strange. He's referring to Council discussions earlier in the day regarding remuneration. The whole statement smacks of posturing and politics for some as yet to be revealed reason.

There's a back-story to this somewhere that we haven't been let in on yet.

Around Town Tuesday - Nov 27th

1. Walkerville Times 2007 Editon - get 'em while you can. (.pdf version available for download)

2. Windsor related Facebook - Habitat for Humanity, Arts Council - Windsor & Region

3. Mezzo Ristorante Dinner Club - a unique night of dining and dancing.

4. AM 800's Cans for a Cause

5. Calling Councillor Ken - whatever happend to the "I'll talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime" when it comes to WUC?

New look National Post

Hopefully this is the new look that Canwest will be rolling out at all their newspapers, it's a winner. After spending several hours, over a couple of days, touring the site, the only weak point I can find is in the Multimedia category. (basically just a Photogallery and some special videos. No avenue that I could find for user submitted content, share/embed videos/recommend photos and videos. Multimedia looks like an afterthought tossed in)

The site autodiscovers RSS in the address bar. RSS is prevalent throughout every page and section of the site. There are numerous ways to access each section, new category, special topic etc. Social Bookmarking is available for over 37 different services. (eg. Facebook, Digg, Furl...)

The Post has gone mobile in a big way with applications for Blackberry and Windows based devices together with SMS alerts and a mobile browser friendly site.

The Post blogs get their own mini-aggregator on the top right hand side of the page. This is something that I had mentioned would be useful for the Star bloggers to increase the ease of access and readership. (instead of having to click through two or three levels to see if new content has been published, the latest blogs are available on the front page)

Oh yeah - everything is available now - free! No subscription walls, no special subscriber areas.

Bring it on!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Border Delay Questions

From GovTech.com, the Congressional Committee on Homeland Security has some questions for the Department of Homeland security regarding the most recent incidents of border delays of Emergency Personnel:

DHS Questioned on Emergency Personnel Delayed at Border

Today, Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism Chairwoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), and Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness, and Response Chairman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) sent a letter to Michael Chertoff, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding two incidents at the Canadian border when an ambulance and a group of firefighters were delayed and stopped at the border for secondary inspection. A link to the letter is below.

RELATED DOCUMENTS:

Letter (PDF) [ homeland.house.gov/SiteDocuments/20071120111445-67508.pdf ]

The letter asks for a response by December 3rd, 2007.

Quick Hits - Monday November 26th

1. Item 4 Community Event Partnership Program Policy & Application (CEPP), Notice of Motion M176-2007 - a long overdue policy.

2.
Item 3 Site Plan Approval for SPC 008/07 and Exemption from the Interim Control By-law 19-2007 - Maryvale Residential Treatment Building - now we get to see the hypocrisy in action of all the "no exception whatsoever" members of Council.

3. Add up all the money we spend on consultants, including the ones used for this latest report, and there would be money to spare for many other initiatives. Three years to make a decision is about right for "City time".

4. Par for the course these days, and not looking like anything is going to change anytime soon.

5. Golf courses, marinas, airports - why not a tunnel? Anyone got a business for sale - send in a proposal to the City of Windsor. We don't have enough on our plate trying to run core municipal services. If the Mayor and Council are so keen to run all these businesses, why don't they do us all a favour and resign to open their own. That way they get to play with their own money instead of the taxpayers.

6. Nice to see the uploaded 211 service is now up and running. Whatever happened to the Operating Agreement that was supposed to come back to Council for approval?

7. Speaking of reports to Council, has an Audit Committee meeting been held recently to consider the Auditor-General's position? What do you think the chances are this position will make it into 2008 budget deliberations? (see Item 4 for yet another reason a Windsor Auditor General is so sorely needed).

8. International Metropolis with some great shots of the Walkerville Theatre.

9. WE Speak now has some company. London Speak launches this week.

10. If we're still on schedule, this should be Budget Week in Windsor, with the public unveiling of our lastest masterpiece.

Update: Moneysense Best Places to Live in Canada - Windsor makes the list at #18, Leamington at #14.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Budget Questions

I was reading Chris Schnurr's blog last night and came across a report he linked to, completed for London City Council (BMA Management Consulting’s 2006 tax comparison, courtesy of the City of London).

One of the tables listed the percentage of reserves versus total expenditures (2005 figures):
Windsor: Reserves $74,145,712 Total Expenditures $709,476,190
What's got me puzzled is the figures for London:
London: Reserves $194,539,419 Total Expenditures $743,417,186
The next table is similar, but less Unfunded Liabilities and less Water and Sewer:
Windsor: Reserves $71,469,164 Total Expenditures $645,453,762

London: Reserves $120,655,162 Total Expenditures $656,322,951
Windsor's population is 216,000 while London clocks in at 352,000. Why are Windsor's figures so close to London? I'm currently reviewing the 2007 budgets for both cities to try and determine where the differences are. If anyone knows any reasons why Windsor's budget is almost the same as London's, please email me or post a comment.

One other thing I noted from the BMA report is the status of our reserves. Windsor, at 10.1% is below both the median (29.7%) and average (42.9%) of the 76 municipalities studied for the report.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sound familiar?

H/T to Councillor Halberstadt for the link to Municipal World Magazine:
Believing Every Issue Needs Unanimity

Democracy is not well served by the search for unanimity on a council. Some of the most successful councils have very heated debates on the key issues and resolve such matters by a 5-4 vote. While the mayor may view the matter as very significant, there is nothing to suggest that the issue should result in everyone seeing the issue the same way.

If, after the council has heard all the evidence and still decides the matter by a narrow margin, it may well be that the community as a whole would, if exposed to the same arguments vote in a similar fashion. It is my view that the best councils, like hockey games, are unpredictable in nature, given the propensity of most leaders to see the world somewhat differently.

The key to successful mayoral leadership is the recognition that the key issues were fully debated, the public view was heard, and the majority decided the result. Those matters that do receive the support of all members of council are often quite straight forward or are of a housekeeping nature. It is seldom that a council resolves contentious matters by a unanimous vote. The mayor should not be perturbed by the failure of council to agree unanimously to any matter but, rather, maintain focus on the course ahead.
How many 5 to 4 votes on any issue can you recall at Windsor Council over the last 11 months? Key issues debated, the public heard?

In Windsor, the appearance seems to be the exact opposite. Procedural maneuvering, committees/sub-committees debating issues out of the public eye and without public input or scrutiny, items buried in the consent agenda, stifling of public input, lectures for Councillors when questions are asked, verbal reports in-camera ... the list is long. Every time a Councillor "steps out of line" it seems to generate another edition of the "Cheerleader Chronicles".

How much longer are we to endure this Kumbya council voting 10 - 0 or 9-1 on issue after issue?

I am looking forward to Councillor Postma voting against the budget if it doesn't produce a 0% tax increase. She was well quoted last year as saying that there wouldn't be any tax increase as a result of building the new arena. Since then we've had an 86% increase in our utilities bill, with another hefty increase due next year. Council is currently examining a budget with a recommended increase of 3.6% plus a further 1% levy. Wow, if that's Councillor Postma's definition of no increase in taxes, I shudder to think of what she classifies an increase!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Things to think about

I meant to blog about this recently, and it fell by the wayside.

Jordan Bateman is a Municipal Councillor in Langley British Columbia. I regularly visit his blog. On a recent visit I caught this item:
Cities Fit For Children conference report

On Thursday and Friday, I was in Kelowna attending a conference called Cities Fit for Children. The following is a report I am providing to the rest of Council in a memo today.
-----
On November 1 and 2, 2007, I attended the Cities Fit for Children conference in Kelowna. This memo provides a brief report on that conference.

Overall, the seminars were informative and helpful. As was expected, the keynote addresses by Dr. Stuart Shanker, Dr. Clyde Hertzman, and Dr. Suzanne Crowhurst Lennard were the highlights.

Dr. Shanker opened the conference with a presentation on the science of early brain development. His research shows some worrisome statistics:

What a great idea. Like most Councils, Windsor Councillors and Senior Staff attend numerous conferences, clinics, association meetings and other events. Why don't we ever see reports tabled at Council to share the knowledge learned during these events? A simple report along with any supporting materials should be fairly straightforward to produce and table.

Information is gold and the more we share, the more everyone wins.

On message

Someone certainly got their talking points this week.

One might think this would be a great article to wave around at budget time when you're trying to justify spending hundreds of thousand of dollars on communications departments and branding consultants.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Around Town Tuesday - Nov 20th

1. 48HRFLICKFEST - if you missed the first screening stop in The Room, Friday November 23rd, 6pm. You can also view the Top 10 films online.

2. A blogger with a sense of humour, albeit slightly sarcastic. Luv it!

3. Neighbourhood in Motion - the 800 Block wishes the 900 Block better luck next year.

4. Keep up the heat, otherwise we'll all be paying for it next year.

5. Windsor related Facebook - waste a little time today - You know you're from Windsor when...

If you have any event, post, article or website that you'd like to shill for, promote, shout about...., drop a note in the comments and I'll add it to the list. Busy day today.

Let the sun shine in

Hat tip to Councillor Drew Dilkens for stepping up to the plate. I'm guessing he didn't appreciate being on the receiving end of one of the Mayor's stock "Alan Halberstadt" lectures at last week's Council meeting when he had the temerity to actually ask a question.

If there's ever a motion for citizens to get behind, this is one of them. If you don't feel comfortable appearing before Council to support this, at least take a few minutes to email Councillor Dilkens and let him know he has your support. If you're feeling really energetic, email your own Councillors in support or really throw caution to the wind and let the entire Council and Mayor know how you feel.

Councillor wants minutes of city corporations

Weary of being in the dark over the business dealings of the city's arms-length corporations, Coun. Drew Dilkens wants minutes of every meeting from those entities shared with all councillors.

Dilkens served a notice of motion Monday that he will bring forward his request to council in the next week or two, once it has been fine-tuned with the help of the city's legal department.

Enwin Utilities, Windsor Utilities Commission, the city's tunnel corporation and the airport's YQG Gateway Inc. are among entities that frustrate Dilkens because only councillors who sit on those boards are privy to minutes of meetings and business dealings.

"For me, it's about openness, transparency and accountability," he said. "Residents expect us to be in the know, so it's incumbent upon us to know what's going on in these organizations.

Canwest grows in Windsor

This was quite a surprise yesterday. Congrats to the owners on the sale. I can respect the years of work required to build these publications.

That said, I now have a little more incentive to continue developing WE Speak. CanWest, the Windsor Star's parent company, now controls a significant portion of the county's daily and weekly print media. Now more than ever, this area needs robust platforms that deliver alternative opinions.

There are some improvements to the site planned next year along with SpeakTV, a new live-streamed weekly webcast. LondonSpeak.ca will hopefully be launching within the next several days.

CanWest buys community newspapers in Essex County
Interim general manager named by media company
Staff, Windsor Star
Published: Monday, November 19, 2007

CanWest Mediaworks Publications Inc. has acquired three publication groups that publish five community newspapers in Essex County and Windsor Parent magazine.

The purchases of Phoenix Media Group Inc., Cornerstone Publications Inc. and Sims Publications Inc. mean that CanWest - which owns The Windsor Star - will reach more than 30,000 homes in the region through six publications. They are: The Kingsville Reporter, The Tilbury Times, Lakeshore News, Shoreline Week, The LaSalle Post and Windsor Parent. CanWest has also bought the commercial printing assets of Sims Publications.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quick Hits - Monday November 19th

1. Some opinions to remember on the Windsor Airport in general and municipal corporate governance in particular. - Windsor Airport - Air Traffic Control. We've added two new "arms-length" corporations in the last year and may yet be adding two more. Is this the correct model for transparent, open and accountable government that most people expect today?

2. Windsor may be addicted to urban sprawl, but other municipalities are starting to realize the true costs. Some are even saying no to new development for the sake of development.

3. One of those things that most of us missed.

4. I'm interested in reader's opinions on our current Ward system for a future blog series that I'm working on. Issues to consider are the current number of wards, size of wards, number of Councillors, remuneration of Councillors and whether or not it's time for Windsor to move towards full time Councillors. Any/all comments, suggestions, links to articles, research etc. welcome. (bluebloggingsoapbox@gmail.com)

5. Just thinking - we can continue to hire outside consultants to study, review, study some more, Council can review the study, request a report and if we're lucky, take some action sometime in the next 3 years. On the other hand - maybe we can pull the finger out and simply make our current City Auditor an Auditor General and start the whole process immediately. Markham has already begun leading the Province by approving the creation of an Auditor-General. Not surprising really. They also believe in consulting with residents before raising water rates, not running damage control after the fact. Their Click With Markham is also a great use of multimedia to connect with residents. (includes .pdf's in eight different languages.)

6. Windsor related Facebook - Tartan Army returns! , Councillors Halberstadt and Dilkens have joined the Facebook generation - will others?

7. Update: In case you missed it - the latest edition of the "Cheerleader Chronicles". Little did Councillors realize when they were running last election that one of the requirements was to ask no questions. Anything less than a 10-0 vote and the dissenting opinions are "naysayers", "blind mice", (insert your own Henderson-inspired negative), ...

If the Mayor is looking for unqualified support from residents, he's doing a damn poor job of selling his own residents, let alone prospective investors. The Mayor and this Council's penchant for secrecy and fait accompli propositions is more to blame for perceived difficulties than any so-called naysayers. Windsor's weekly Council meetings have begun to look more like poorly orchestrated versions of a junior band than anything representing real open and accountable government. You'll have to forgive me if I don't pick up an instrument and join the band each week when I don't get to see the score until after the performance.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ouch!

Hopefully our City Councillors are reading some of the feedback that is being posted online at the Windsor Star regarding the proposed 3.6% tax increase.

Time to get back to basics. Stop hiring all the consultants and experts. Stop running businesses in competition with the private sector. Focus on core services.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Open government, Windsor style

I'm rather busy with life today, so you'll have to make do with a link to somewhere else.

Take a minute or two to follow along with Windsor Star blogger Don McArthur's uphill battle with the Windsor Utilities Commission, everyone's favourite.

Read the story and then think to yourself - is a 3.6% tax increase by Windsor City Council justified this year?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Catch a WIFF

Local filmaker Gavin Micheal Booth with his behind the scenes look at the 48HR Flickfest:

Gavin spends the weekend filming the behind the scenes of the WIFF (Windsor International Film Festival)'s 48 Hour Filmmaker Challenge to assist Dylan Pierce and document the great, fun event.

Here we grow again

Unfortunately, it's not agriculture we're talking about here.

Fellow municipal watchers The London Fog:
The naked boom
Growth of Paid Employment, August 2006 to August 2007
As William Robson notes in the Financial Post, "productivity in the public sector tends to be lower than in business." This may seem self-evident to anyone who's watched a government employee on the job but, notwithstanding the welcome and vital work performed in some areas of the economy — like health care — in which the government has effectively legislated private competition out of existence, the most significant cost to productivity from the public sector lies in the fact that most government business is contracted by political demand instead of real demand.

Dalton McGuinty is doing a fine job creating new jobs in Ontario, unfortunately, we're all going to be paying for them. The real kicker comes at the end of London Fog's post - Municipal employee ranks in Ontario rose 11% .

Another question to ask about your tax dollars.

Ontario created 14 Local Health Integration Networks to manage healthcare in Ontario. The government website claims that the LHN's are now managing over two thirds of the Province's Healthcare budget.
"There are 14 LHINs across the province. While we don’t directly provide health care services, we were given the mandate for planning, integrating and funding health care services. We oversee nearly two-thirds of the $37.9 billion health care budget in Ontario."
If that's the case, why have we not seen a significant decrease in the number of people employed by the Ministry of Health in Toronto? Right, I forgot, someone has to keep an eye on the LHN's.

Billions of dollars in increased transfer payments to the Provinces and all Dalton McGuinty can do when Municipalities ask for money is point to the Federal Government and say there's nothing he can do. It's patently false and politically convenient.

Municipalities are the creation of the Provinces and the Provinces should be responsible for their creations.

/rant off

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Around Town Tuesday - Nov 13th

1. Windsor Visuals with a great series of pics on the Casino expansion.

2. City Council Meeting - 6pm this evening

3. More Facebook Fun - with a twist. You get to learn something about Windsor. Fans of Windsor History.Don't forget to check out the new Neighbourhood Application as well.

4. This week is Bullying Awareness Week, sponsored by the Red Cross. They're running a Video PSA contest. After this weeks 48HR Flickfest, there should be plenty of interest for students to show their stuff. $500.00 HBC gift card as first prize.

5. YouTube recently launched a Canadian version of their popular video site. Why is that significant? Instead of being lost in the deluge of American videos, Canadians now have an opportunity to shine on their own. Councillor Alan Halberstadt's latest Council Chat video made it on the list of Most Viewed (Today) - News & Politics - Canada videos (#37 #33 when this blog was published).

6. Rotary Club Online Auction - runs till midnight Sunday.

7. Need some heat? Windsor Chili Fest - Wed Nov 14th, Windsor Armouries $5.00 in advance, $7.00 at the door

8. In search of the "ultimate $7.00 wine". Sounds like fun!

To each his own

Macleans Columnist and blogger Paul Wells, all the way from France, lays out what every other journalist in Canada is either afraid to say, or just can't be bothered. Hopefully Premier McGuinty, Mayor Francis, Mayor McCallion, Mayor Miller and everyone else takes a few minutes to read it.
Didn't he volunteer for the job?

Three times?
By "he," I refer of course to Dalton McGuinty, whose re-election as premier of Ontario struck me as pretty good news, but who does not seem to have read the Constitution lately. Or maybe ever. The Constitution gives responsibility for municipalities to the provinces and, as a kind of bonus, it gives them power to raise taxes to pay for it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Quick Hits - Monday November 12th

Windsor Police Christmas Toy Drive - runs till December 17th. New unwrapped toys or monetary donations accepted.

Kudos to the Windsor Iinternational Film Festival on their highly successful event. I attended the 48 HR Flickfest screeing on Saturday and was very impressed. More on that later.

Light agenda at Council this week. Airport report makes for interesting reading. Hopefully we're not moving toward the City running this facility on a long term basis. Note: don't forget, Council is Tuesday evening this week instead of Monday.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Windsor International Film Fest - Saturday


Local Filmaker's Panel Discussion and OMDC Info Session

+

48 HR Flickfest Screening & Awards


Saturday November 10th, 11:00 am

Art Gallery of Windsor

Admission Free

Friday, November 09, 2007

A Pittance of Time

Something to consider as we head toward Remembrance Day on Sunday. Many of you may be out shopping and running your weekly errands that morning. Windsor services begin at 11:00 am at the Cenotaph downtown.
A Pittance of Time

On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a Shoppers Drug Mart store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the store’s PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.

Terry was impressed with the store’s leadership role in adopting the Legion’s “two minutes of silence” initiative. He felt that the store’s contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.

When eleven o’clock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the “two minutes of silence” to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.

Terry’s anger towards the father for trying to engage the store’s clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, “A Pittance of Time”. Terry later recorded “A Pittance of Time” and included it on his full-length music CD, “The Power of the Dream”.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Who knew?

Congratulations to Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara and the rest of County Council for asking the questions that our own Council was afraid to ask.

While the proposal being advanced was certainly enticing, the variables were hard to swallow. Councils were told in exchange for $50,000 each from the City and County, a private partner would spend $200,000. Who is the private partner and what is the business plan and or budget to spend this $300,000?

Kudos to the private partner willing to advance this money, but taxpayers should not be asked or in the business of advancing funds on such a basis. If the identity of the private partner is to be secret until a certain date, then Council's response should have been, come back and see us once you have the details.

Approving these kind of funds in the absence of details leads me to believe that some or all of our Council were already knowledgeable of the details or just didn't care what the details were.

Either case is equally troubling.

Counterpoint

Reading Gord Henderson's column today might leave people with the impression that Windsor (and by extension anyone who disagrees with current Mayor Eddie Francis) is comprised of "can't do" people.

Unfortunately, Gord leaves out a few salient facts in his latest diatribe about everything not blessed by City Hall.
It was the City of Windsor who spent years expropriating land for which they had no signed plans for, destroying a community already in place;

It has been the City of Windsor who has failed to deliver on a single plan for these expropriated lands in the last twenty some odd years, despite millions of dollars in taypayer funded studies and consultants, including the latest City Centre West plans;

It's the City of Windsor who refuses to move forward with even the RFP that they themselves spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer's dollars developing;

the City continues to look for one single "silver bullet" solution that will fix all that ails in the area, instead of looking outside the box.
As much as everyone wanted to see the University to locate the Engineering Campus downtown, the reality has been that it was never really in the cards. Tuesday's DWBIA forum was more about what should and needs to be done in the future to accommodate either the University, the College or any other group that wishes to take advantage of the City Centre West lands.

The Mayor and Gord may want to make the University out to be the bad guy in this situation; the reality couldn't be any further from the truth. As many others have stated, first and foremost, the responsibility of the U's Board of Governors is to the students they serve. If that happens to dovetail with the City's downtown plans, that's a bonus, not a requirement.

Where was the City years ago when the University was proposing a combined arena/sports field? For that matter, where was the City recently when it came to paying for the current world class sports field the University has today? Last I heard, the University is still on the hook for millions in regard to that effort.

For all the darts being thrown at the University of Windsor lately, many need to step up and take a long hard look in the mirror. The Engineering School may be an opportunity lost, but it's nothing to scorch the earth over. Considering the state of manufacturing in Windsor, the University offers the single largest opportunity for Windsor to diversify their economy in the specific fields of the future, research and development.

To put it bluntly, in old military terms, stop pissing in the corn flakes.

Just my two cents. (plus GST)

Edit: having just read today's main editorial, my thoughts above remain unchanged. Despite the full court press being placed on the University, this is not their problem. The fact remains, it was the City of Windsor who created the "City Centre West" lands through heavy handed expropriation, it's not the University of Windsor's responsibility to bail them out.

Edit 2: Windsor Star blogger Craig Pearson - Don't blame the University

Edit 3: Windsor Star blogger Monica Wolfson - I leave you with food for thought...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Warhol Economy book review

From All About Cities comes a review of a book now on my Christmas list.
Top 3 reasons to read “The Warhol Economy”

Preliminary thoughts on Elizabeth Currid, The Warhol Economy: How Fashion, Art and Music Drive New York City (Princeton University Press, 2007). A more formal review will follow in a few days.

Planners, economists, urban politicians, and anyone interested in how cities work — and how the arts work in a city — will find something fascinating in Elizabeth Currid’s new book. Here are three reasons to pick up a copy:

1. To understand the place of New York’s artistic culture in the city’s economy and society.
Currid makes a compelling argument (in Chapter three) that New York’s national and global pull as a city does not come from its finance and business management cluster. Using location quotient methodology and other evidence she illustrates that other cities easily rival New York in their concentrations of management talent. By contrast, New York is unmatched is in the concentration of artists, musicians, fashion industry specialists, and the media industry (writers, illustrators, editors, publishers), what she collectively calls the cultural economy.

She also offers an interesting urban history lesson, illustrating how during times of recession and decline in other areas of the city’s economy in the 1970s and 1980s generated space for artists. Rent became cheap and creativity boomed as artists could live more cheaply. Eventually this outpouring of creativity fostered a vibrant economy that now sets music, art, fashion trends for the world. More recent real estate price increases and gentrification is making it more challenging for the New York arts scene as many cannot afford to live in the city.

DWBIA Forum

Mark Boscariol with a report on last night's forum at ...Scale Down Windsor.

I spoke to one person who attended. They told me it was a great turnout (over 100) and well worth the time.

Your Favourite Windsor Star Blogger

Life on Tour's Don McArthur wins 17 to 9 over Vanderblogger's Chris Vander Doelen.

In this era of fiscal restraint, The Shadow couldn't justify any prize other than our pledge to continue reading.

In related news on the Star blogging front, it looks like it's lose one gain one.
Reel Life's Roberta Pennington bids the blogging world adieu (from Beijing no less) while we welcome the Great Divide penned by Chris Hornsey and Chris Thompson. (One note of protest, where's the Habs blog? I know it's Windsor, but there's no lack of fans.)

Blog on everyone!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Around Town Tuesday - Nov 6th

1. Film Fest Opening - Tuesday, November 6, 7:00 PM, ART GALLERY OF WINDSOR
$10 per screening. Tonight's event hosted by Joe McParland

2. Urban Renaissance Through Campus Location: A DWBIA forum exploring the potential impact of a downtown university campus. Although today's Windsor Star would seem to put a damper on this event, it's only through community involvement that the Downtown will continue to grown and develop.

3. Certainly qualifies for a nomination in the "dumbest criminal" category.

4. Last day of voting for your favourite Windsor Star Blogger. (poll in the right hand sidebar)

5. Thanks to all my Facebook friends who added the City of Windsor News Facebook App. I originally created it to see what could be done with Widgetbox's Facebook app creator. Since there is some interest I think I'll actually develop it as a city wide news app, pulling from various sources. (The City of Windsor News releases are just not frequent enough to justify an app on their own)

6. For all those not attending the DWBIA forum or the Film Fest opening you can check out the Windsor Pubic Library Speaker series featuring Shawn Micallef.

7. Film Festivals, Book Festivals, Forums, Speaker Series - arts and culture are alive and well in Windsor, including the Capitol Theatre's new board. Fighting on.

8.The TIMES Magazine special holiday issue (#58) arrives November 24th, 2007!

9. Check out the Fans of Windsor History on Facebook.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another in a long list

Yet another example of why Cities shouldn't be in business. Running a theme park certainly doesn't qualify as "core services" that a municipality should be running.
Cuts loom at deficit-plagued Storybook
Mon, November 5, 2007
City staff seek a new, more realistic business plan as the theme park posts a $250,000 loss.
By JONATHAN SHER, SUN MEDIAA $7-million investment that was supposed to return the glory days to Storybook Gardens has instead produced a loss that this year will total $250,000.
Windsor started the ball rolling by getting rid of the Cleary. We need to finish the job by selling the Marina and Golf courses.

Quick Hits - Monday November 5th

1. Leveraging technology instead of re-inventing the wheel. H/T to Vancouver
Enterprising sorts in Ottawa are taking OCTranspo public data to new heights with things like Mobile browser access (you can see what it looks like on a cellphone here ) and Email Route Planning.

2. No further news yet on a possible BlueWater Bridge strike. Latest word is the Union is recommending that it's members reject the Blue Water Bridge Authority's latest offer.

3. Agenda Lite this week. If the Consent Agenda is adopted, the meeting should be over before most people realize it's begun.

4. Council Communications - the only thing that stands out for me this week is the recommendation from the Convention and Visitor's Bureau to create a new arms-length corporation (pg 25 and 26). We'll have to see how that one develops. Personally, I think we're running out of arms when it comes to these corporations in Windsor.

5. Urban Renaissance Through Campus Location: A DWBIA forum exploring the potential impact of a downtown university campus.

6. Two days left to vote for your Favourite Windsor Star blogger in Round Two. (poll is in the right hand sidebar)

7. What's surprising is that banning Poppy sellers still pops up year after year. H/T to Home Depot for quickly correcting the situation. (Cross-posted to The Torch)

8. Playing around with Facebook this weekend. City watchers can now add the City of Windsor News App to their Facebook account.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

48HRFLICKFEST Explodes



Windsor's inaugural 48HRFLICKFEST, a part of the Windsor International Film Festival, is off to a promising start. The idea for the FlickFest began less than 3 weeks ago as an avenue to showcase local talent in the Film Festival. In short order the filmfest staff pulled together the concept, sponsors, prizes and a website.

The premise: Teams of up to 8 filmakers have one weekend to write, shoot, score, edit and finish a DVD movie of 2 to 4 minutes length. The contest began last night at 7pm and finished movies must be submitted no later than 7pm Sunday evening.

The twist: Each film must include a Character, Prop and Line of Dialogue chosen by the festival. The teams all receive this information during the contest kickoff.
Character: a prominent downtown landmark
Prop: A WIFF T-Shirt
Line of Dialogue: "Sorry Mama, you can't park there"
When the contest first began the expectation was that around 8 to 10 teams would enter during this first year. I was quite surprised to find out last night that 26 teams had successfully entered and attended the kickoff. That's over two hundred people who are going to be somewhat sleep deprived this weekend! Given WIFF's inventive selection of Character and Dialogue, we should be seeing quite a few cameras in the Downtown core this weekend.

The films will be screened at the Art Gallery of Windsor next Saturday afternoon. Once I've confirmed complete times and details, I'll post them here.

Good luck to tall the teams.

PS. don't forget about all the other great films and events going on as part of the Windsor International Film Festival. You can view the complete schedule on their website or download a copy in .pdf format.

Friday, November 02, 2007

DWBIA Forum - Tues Nov 6th

Urban Renaissance Through Campus Location:

A DWBIA forum exploring the potential impact of a downtown university campus.

Keynote Speaker
Professor Rick Haldenby
Director of University of Waterloo School of Architecture, Cambridge Downtown
Co-Director Centre for Core Areas Research and Design

Professor Haldenby is an internationally respected architect and an expert in the study of issues
facing core areas in middle-sized cities.

Windsor Armouries
37 University Avenue E.,
Downtown Windsor
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Downtown Windsor – The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association (DWBIA) believes the
establishment of a downtown University of Windsor engineering campus would revitalize the entire city of Windsor and offer enormous benefits to the university, as well.

And they are out to prove it.

“Once every century an opportunity occurs that can change the texture and quality of downtown,” explained DWBIA chair Larry Horwitz. “Let’s stop complaining about downtown Windsor not being the way you want it to be – let’s do something about it. Scores of other cities have transformed their cities by creating university campuses in their downtown hubs.”

The DWBIA has invited Professor Rick Haldenby, Director of the University of the Waterloo School of Architecture, co-director of the Centre for Core Areas Research and Design and respected architect and expert in the study of issues facing core areas in middle-sized cities, as the keynote speaker for Urban Renaissance Through Campus Location: A DWBIA forum exploring the potential impact of a downtown university campus, which takes place at the
Windsor Armouries on Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 6:00 p.m.

“Professor Haldenby was instrumental in University of Waterloo’s decision to build its School of
Architecture in downtown Cambridge,” said DWBIA executive director Judith Veresuk, “He can speak to the resulting benefits, to the school and to the city as a whole.”

The DWBIA is inviting the entire community to attend the meeting, to become better informed about the tremendous revitalization that has occurred in Cambridge as a result of the downtown location of its university campus, and the potential of such a campus location in downtown Windsor.

“The BIA strongly supports having a Centre for Engineering Innovation campus in its core. We will do what it takes in manpower, incentive and energy to be a welcome centre. We want everyone to become involved, and aware,” said Mr. Horwitz. “The location of a university campus in our downtown is of vital concern to the future of our city.”

“Once people are understand the tremendous impact a downtown university campus could have, not only for downtown, but for all of Windsor, I am certain we can find a way to make it happen,” concluded DWBIA executive director, Judith Veresuk. “It is our hope that this meeting will also motivate those who care about our city to help find the funding, land or whatever is needed to make a downtown university campus a reality.”

WINDSOR STARTS HERE!

- 30 –

For further information contact:

Larry Horwitz, Chair DWBIA
519-817-6264

Judith Veresuk, Executive Director DWBIA
519-252-5723 ext. 25.

Barbara Peirce Marshall, DWBIA Communication & Marketing Manager
519-252-5723 ext. 23

Mayor Fred

Hats off to Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger on the launch of his new website MayorFred.ca .

Here's one Mayor who really gets it. Includes Latest News, Mulitmedia, Newsletters (printed and email), Community Links, Feedback and Contact links for a variety of things, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and YouTube links, Photogallery and the Mayor's schedule. About the only thing missing is RSS feeds. (pet peeve of mine!)

A fantastic website designed by a local non-profit, The Community Centre for Media Arts (CCMA)

Cross-posted to MUNIBlogs.com

What Buzz and Ken don't want you to know

Lost in the shuffle of layoff announcements yesterday were the following statistics:
Canada October auto sales rise led by Detroit 3

"The reality is that prices have been coming down across most models all year and lower prices have resulted in a much stronger market," said Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consulting Inc.

General Motors of Canada (GM.N), the country's biggest automaker, said its October sales rose 13.2 percent from the same month last year to 30,327 vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. of Canada (F.N) moved 16,902 vehicles off its lots in October, up 6.2 percent from the same month last year. Truck sales rose 15.1 percent to 13,020, while car sales slipped 15.7 percent to 3,882.

Chrysler Canada sales rose 2.6 percent to 15,411 vehicles in October, which marked the automaker's 15th straight month of higher sales.

Toyota Canada Inc. (7203.T) said its October sales totaled 14,484 vehicles, down 9.5 percent from a year earlier.

The automaker said sales at its Toyota division dropped 11 percent to 13,358 vehicles, while its luxury Lexus division sales rose 13.4 percent to 1,126 units.

Honda Canada Inc. (7267.T) said its October vehicle sales fell 9 percent to 11,377 units. Its Honda division sales fell 6 percent to 10,123 units, while its Acura division sales dropped 28 percent 1,254 vehicles.

Next Wednesday could be very busy in Windsor

I didn't find any mention of this story in local media this morning. Hopefully, someone, somewhere is starting some contingency planning. The Sarnia PSAC Toll Collectors union will be in a legal strike position at 12:01 am Wednesday if they turn down a final offer to be voted on Tuesday.

I'm sure companies will begin routing through Windsor to avoid any potential delays and it will most likely include more than just the Toronto garbage trucks. Depending on the time of the vote, we could begin seeing increased traffic by early Tuesday afternoon or evening.

Failure to adequately plan for this could see Huron Church a parking lot by Wednesday morning.
Strike at Sarnia border crossing could create traffic chaos

JAMES RUSK

November 2, 2007

It is not clear how much chaos would result if the workers strike. In addition to the trucks, the bridge is used by 8,000 to 9,000 cars a day, and industry sources said the alternative crossings are already operating at capacity.

The union will ask unionized truck drivers not to use the bridge, but the critical issue would be whether Canada Customs agents and immigration officers would honour picket lines, which seems likely, as they are also PSAC members, one industry official said.

Steve Whitter, director of garbage transfer, processing and disposal operations for Toronto, said that if a strike were to slow operations at Blue Water, across which the city's garbage passes on the way to Michigan, "it will slow us down, probably, but certainly not stop us."

He said that the city would be forced to send transports carrying its waste over the Ambassador Bridge at Windsor, Ont. Only empty garbage trucks are now routed there.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Downtown Rebranding

Congratulations to the Downtown BIA on the launch of their new branding project. The new website looks great - bright, inviting and easy to use. I prefer it over the previous dark look. The only downside is the scrolling news and lack of RSS.

Their new Fresh Fronts initiative is a great campaign to move forward with refreshing and revitalizing our downtown core.

video

Some days...

just go really, really well.

Yesterday was one of those days for a change. Years of hard work and effort just all seem to come together.

Onward and upward.