Thursday, January 31, 2008

And the winner is....

Congratulations to all my fellow bloggers at The Torch and especially to Damian (aka Babbling Brooks) for founding the site and inviting me to blog there. It's an honour and a pleasure.

Special kudos to the CBA team this year for their unique awards announcements. Truly a surprise.

I'm looking forward to seeing some more videos posted on local Windsor blogs over the next several days.

Hypocrisy 101

A grassroots political movement is one driven by the constituents of a community. The term implies that the genesis of the described political movement is natural yet spontaneous and imposes a dichotomy between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures.
City touts border plan
The city is launching the grassroots lobbying campaign just two months before final recommendations are released by a binational government team on locations for a new border crossing, plazas and roads.
What exactly is "grassroots" about one level of government spending buckets of your tax dollars to paper you with flyers, mailers and other advertisements, supposedly to lobby another level of government to spend more of your tax dollars?

Makes about as much sense as berating one group for holding closed door meetings while reveling in the leak of another group's closed door meeting on the same issue.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Coming soon... 2008 Budget

The City of Windsor is to release the Draft Budget at 1:00 pm this afternoon. I'm assuming we'll be able to find the appropriate documents here.

Edit: Capital and Operating budgets can be found here.

Have your say

Forum to seek ideas on Windsor's future

Bleak or Blessed, will feature keynote speaker Matt Fischer, CEO of the Windsor Essex County Economic Development Commission. Questions as well as ideas from the audience will be appreciated, said Hilary Payne, a forum organizer and retired chief administrative officer at the City of Windsor.

“Windsor does have its economic challenges,” said Payne. “The fact that people are leaving the city in droves is very serious. We want to encourage the woman and man on the street to express their ideas on what the city should do.”

Payne noted that other North American jurisdictions have managed to overcome economic transitions through “sheer will of the people.”

“We’re operating on the premise that the glass is half full. It’s surprising what the power of the people can do when it’s mobilized and allowed to express itself.”

Organizers plan to record ideas generated from the forum and compile them in a report, which will be presented to all three levels of government — the city, the province and the feds.

The forum, which is free of charge, will take place Wednesday at All Saints’, 330 City Hall Square, from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, call 519253-8001.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It ain't just the comics anymore

I used to read the Windsor Star for the local, regional and national news. These days it seems like I'm only reading the funny pages and I don't mean the comics.
MPP expresses hope Ottawa to aid Ford

"We are hopeful the feds won't let us down," said Pupatello, Ontario's economic development minister, who has been instrumental in talks to secure a deal.

"If they put politics ahead of basic industrial development, I'll be disappointed."

Surely you can do better than that Sandra. Come on, it's the end of the year. Where are the NEW applications for the end of year "Special Liberal Friends" club. I realize the City of Windsor isn't a cricket club, but surely we rate something for sending you back to Toronto. Oh, that's right, I'm sorry, nothing political happens in Toronto. Silly me.
Bylaw called threat to youth
But Ward 1 Coun. Ron Jones took issue with Stamper's comments. "This has nothing to do with the Ambassador Bridge company. This has to do with the enhancement of Sandwich Towne. To restore the history, the culture of Sandwich Towne," Jones said.
Mr Maroun might even sell you a piece of the bridge for that knee-slapping bit of comedy.
The old college try
I'm not sure why the Mayor wants a pricey Communications Department when he already has a part-time one courtesy of CanWest - no charge.

And people wonder why the City has problems accomplishing anything with County Council, the Provincial government or the Federal government? Vitriol doesn't begin to describe the abuse heaped upon anyone daring to step out of line with the City's view. The my way or the highway crowd are finding out that many are choosing the highway, to the detriment of Windsor.

Is the Western Super-Anchor Western Urban Village Downtown Arena University Campus every going to be developed?

Maybe we should ask Tecumseh to draw up plans and sign a contract to build an urban village.

Worked last time.

PS. H/T to Council for deferring this issue until February. The last minute notice for this meeting was appalling. For a Council that continually talks about openness and accountability, their actions to date don't speak very loudly. Hopefully this is a sign of better things to come. If we can spend $82,000 dollars promoting a Master Plan review, surely we can spare a few scraps for the West End.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A different perspective

The federal government has provided billions more in funding over the last several years to the Provinces. The Provinces response (as always) - we want more.

What the Provinces don't like is when the Federal government provides the money and then says - do what YOU want with it. In other words, you take the responsibility for what is a Provincial jurisdiction.

Ontario's share of the fund being discussed is $350 million dollars. If they wish to spend $30 million on Ford's V8 engine, they're free to do so. At the same time, if they make that decision, they'll have to explain it and justify it to the people of Ontario, no different than Nova Scotia would if they, for example, decide to spend $15 million on a fish processing plant.
Prentice hints that Ford plant is eligible for federal aid
Says shuttered Windsor facility may qualify under hardship fund if Ontario agrees


From Friday's Globe and Mail

January 25, 2008 at 4:08 AM EST

OTTAWA, TORONTO — Industry Minister Jim Prentice says Ford might yet qualify for federal help to reopen an engine plant in Windsor, Ont., because Ontario manufacturers would be eligible to tap the Harper government's $1-billion economic hardship fund if the province agrees.

But he emphasized yesterday it's up to Ontario to work with Ottawa to set the proper ground rules for the fund.

Beware the (tax) bomb coming

A forgotten issue from the last election that's about to go to the head of the line very soon.

Done in by the law of averages

What he said

Contrary to popular belief, it's not only the bloggers in our community who remain somewhat skeptical of City pronouncements, we're just a little more vocal at times.

Is City pretending to care about public opinion?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Murphy's Law

Plan something for three weeks, spread the word and arrange for the night off. You've got everything covered - except for the flu.

I was really looking forward to last night's Blogger's meetup, unfortunately, my body wasn't cooperating. I kept hoping right up til 8:00 o'clock that I might be feeling well enough to visit, but it just wasn't in the cards.

I'm glad to hear there was a good turnout. Thanks to Allison from CBC radio for covering the event.

Now I'm REALLY looking forward to the next meetup.

Canadian Blog Awards

The first round of voting for the Canadian Blog Awards has finished and the results are posted.

I'm happy to say that Windsor is well represented in the second round. Making the final 5 are:

Best New Blog
WindsorEats FoodBlog
…Scale Down, Windsor

Best Activities Blog
Maple Syrup and Poutine

Best Local Blog
International Metropolis
WindsorEats FoodBlog

Best Military Blog
The Torch

Best Education Blog
Michael’s English Usage

These blogs are up against some tough competition, especially in categories like Best Local Blog. Please take the time to support Windsor Bloggers. Voting begins today.

PS. the only prizes are a nice badge for the winning blogs (Gold, Silver and Bronze) and bragging rights for a year. The nice thing about the contest is that it introduces everyone to the wide variety of blogs that abound in Canada. Oh yeah - the increase in traffic doesn't hurt either!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

You know you're a geek when...

The long awaited, newest version of your favourite web-based Content Management System (CMS) is finally released. You feel like celebrating but have no one to celebrate with.

Joomla 1.5 Stable is released - Woo Hoo!

Oh well - I'll just have to make do with my fellow bloggers. :)

PS. Joomla is the platform I use to host WE Speak, London Speak, MuniBlogs and LibertyBlogs, along with another small side project I'm currently involved in.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Found in London

From the London Budget page - Property Tax, Wastewater and Water Rate Overview

We aren't included in the Wastewater and Water rate charts - I'm assuming because we'd skew the charts too much.

We still have to look forward to another rate increase this year, as last year's increase still wasn't enough to provide the funding required for water and sewer work.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Yet another screed...

Not that I'm surprised.

Local scribe Gord Henderson leads off his column with the words " if you believe Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's version of events". It's all downhill from there. Don't let any facts get in your way, someone could get hurt.

Edit: another in the fact challenged race to the bottom.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

No money for Ford in Windsor

If you believe Dalton McGuinty, that is. We all know where that's got us in the past.
Ottawa nixes aid for auto industry


Globe and Mail Update

January 16, 2008 at 12:06 PM EST

The Harper government has refused to provide financial aid to the auto industry, including funding to support a $300-million plan to reopen a shuttered engine plant in Windsor, Ont.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said this morning that Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear when he met with the premiers last Friday that Ottawa is not prepared to inject funding into specific projects.

“He told me very directly, ‘look, I operate at the macro level. We'll cut taxes, offer some regional incentives, but we're not prepared to take it one step down,'” Mr. McGuinty said.

Happy Birthday M.O.M.

No, no that MOM, the other M.O.M - our very own the Mayor of Monmouth.

I was going to offer specific birthday greetings but I've been informed by Monmouth Municipal Staff that the actual date in question is a Monmouth Municipal secret protected by privacy laws.

We understand. Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Municipalities and Arenas

Always a dangerous mix, with the taxpayer picking up the doctor's bill.

Around Town Tuesday - Jan 15th

1. The first WE Speak Windsor Bloggers Meet is fast approaching. Open to all!

2. ... Scale Down Windsor - the pot is brewing!

"keep an eye out at for some exciting new developments. We have been working hard over the holidays preparing for a new-and-improved Scale Down. You will be receiving an invitation to our big Launch Party very soon, and hear all about the direction we're heading and the new avenues we are pursuing. You will also have the opportunity to come and hear a keynote address by an internationally acclaimed author who just so happens to espouse the same values and virtues as Scale Down.

Piqued your interested, have I? Stay tuned for more information... "

3. It's not Christmas, but Windsorites still need to keep their eye out for reindeer - one specific reindeer with sentimental value.

4. Every bachelor's worst nightmare.

5. New Windsor/Essex Facebook -PLEASE!!! sign up for the MS Super Cities Walk in Windsor!! TEAM Pat's Legs, Save Windsor's Historic Assumption Church!, Windsor Sports Magazine, Texas Road,

Monday, January 14, 2008

Canadian Blog Awards

The nominations have closed and the voting has begun for the Canadian Blog Awards - Round 1.

Windsor is well represented across all the various categories. You can only vote once in the first round and the voting closes on the 21st of January at 11:59 pm. After the first round, the top 5 blogs will be chosen for a second and final round of voting expected to begin on the 23rd of January.

Best Blog

Best New Blog
... Scale Down Windsor
A Canadian Penny For Dan's Thoughts

Best Political Blog
Windsor Municipal Shadow

Best Personal Blog
A Canadian Penny For Dan's Thoughts

Best Photo/Art Blog

Blog Windsor

Best Activities Blog
Maple Syrup and Poutine

Best Media/Celebrity Blog
A Canadian Penny For Dan's Thoughts

Best Local Blog
Windsor Municipal Shadow
A Canadian Penny For Dan's Thoughts

Best Military Blog

The Torch (a group blog that I belong to)

Best Education Blog
Michael’s English Usage

Best luck to all. Hopefully Round 2 will also see Windsor well represented.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


More caterwauling.
"He sees a handful of individuals, some with interesting connections, hammering away at the same themes day after day to try to spread their toxic negativity."
It's so "toxic" to advocate on behalf of open government, accountability, fiscal responsibility, getting rid of Ward Fund piggy banks, secret deals (WFCU/Spitfire deal) ...

In other words, the "dissent is not allowed" mantra still reigns with some.

Speaking of interesting connections, why doesn't Council implement the full lobbyist registry. You know, the one Council doesn't believe we really need in Windsor. LMAO!

Friday, January 11, 2008

City moves towards online applications

This is a welcome development from the City of Windsor. Congratulations to the HR Department:

Student Lottery Goes Green
City of Windsor Human Resources has launched an online application process for the Summer Student Lottery, saying goodbye to over 1,000 paper applications that have been distributed annually for the past 30 years. For the first time, student applicants will not have to line up at the HR office on Goyeau to apply, as the City will no longer be using hard copy applications.

"We are committed to the development, sourcing and supply of information and processes that are streamlined, cost effective, and customer oriented, while exerting a positive environmental influence," said Executive Director of HR, Vincenza Mihalo.

Moving the process online will allow students to conveniently apply from anywhere in the world. It will also have a financial benefit, as the City will save dollars and time previously devoted to printing and administration of the hard copy intake.

Student Lottery applications
are available on the City's website, in the Work for Windsor section (links can be found on the homepage and in the City Hall menu). Once a student completes and submits their online application, an email is sent providing them with their personal confirmation number. After the random lottery draw, the results will be posted on the website, at which time the student can use this number to view their lottery ranking.

"This initiative would not have been possible if it weren't for the efforts of a team of employees dedicated to delivering accessible and responsive recruitment services," said Mihalo. "Thanks go out to our HR team and to all of the Information Technology staff involved in making this happen in such a timely manner."

Moving forward in 2008, HR plans to make the Student Lottery's online application an example for changes in the way the City accepts employment applications for all positions. HR encourages interested residents to continue visiting the City's Work for Windsor web pages in the future for updates on new initiatives.


Here's a long overdue Editorial, especially the following part:

There is a tendency in politics for longtime leaders to confuse their interests with the interests of the jurisdictions they govern. There is also a tendency to view dissenting opinions as attacks rather than expressions of legitimate opinions. Unanimity, though, is anathema to vibrant democracies, which thrive on the cut and thrust of debate, the clashing of ideas and the ability of representatives to speak their mind and vote their conscience.

Francis must be careful not to confuse debate and democratic dissent with disloyalty to the city. And councillors must ensure they are advancing the interests of their constituents and not their own political aspirations. Councillors are elected neither to serve the mayor nor run for mayor.

The editorial puts comments in Gord Henderson's column yesterday in a very different perspective:
Mayor Francis
"There's plenty of time for them to crank it up," said Francis, but right now council needs to stay focused on job-related issues. "I'm begging you as a council to be leaders for this community," he pleaded. "Park the campaigns to the sidelines right now. We should look at everything we do from the perspective of attracting more jobs to this community."

Ward Two Councillor Ron Jones
The Ward 2 councillor is appalled by the nitpicking and showboating he's seeing from councillors who place personal ambition ahead of city interests. "The way some people have been acting, I expect to see lawn signs up any day now."

Ward Two Councillor Caroline Postma
His ward mate, Caroline Postma, told me she's sickened by a dysfunctional, backstabbing, clique-ridden, media-hogging council which she compared to a Grade 9 class at her old school, Forster Collegiate. This council, said Postma, has been poisoned by misleading, two-faced blogs and by third-party associations and influence. "There are so many conflicting personalities around this table," she sighed.
My favourite line from the Mayor:
And the final straw, it appears, was media spin which suggested a Windsor auditor general was the personal brainwave of Marra and Halberstadt when in reality the mayor and nearly every councillor endorsed it and asked a committee headed by Marra to flesh out details.
As far as the Auditor-General position goes, the entire City Council should hang it's head in shame. The law was passed in 2006 and came into force on January 1st, 2007. We are still studying whether or not to establish the position. At our current pace it will be at least another year before any decision is made, if we're lucky.

Edit: I would hope in the future that Councillor Postma would identify exactly which blogs she considers to be "mis-leading" and "two-faced", whether it be citizens or her fellow Councillor. I would especially be interested in knowing of any of my own blog posts which might be considered by her to be in this category. Blogging and other forms of electronic interaction are not going away, they're growing. Here's a list of blogging municipal officials in Canada:

Bill Given
Councillor Chronicles
Councillor Shelley Carroll
Doug Thompson
Five Alive
Gord Perks
Jasper Municipal Library
Jeff Knoll
Kim Richter (Langley Free Press)
Langley Politics
Mayor Fred Eisenberger
Olds Municipal Library
Red Deer - Election Forum 2007
Red Deer Public Library
Sam Sullivan
Ted Salci - Hizzoner
Terry Whitehead
The Mayor's Blog
The Mumpsimus Blog
Ward 2 Guelph
Ward 3 Brighton
Ward 4 Guelph
Your Kamloops

Ford calls on Ottawa to revive Windsor plant

Ford calls on Ottawa to revive Windsor plant


Globe and Mail Update

January 11, 2008 at 12:30 AM EST

Ford Motor Co. has asked the federal and Ontario governments to kick in $60-million to support a $300-million plan to reopen a shuttered engine plant in Windsor, Ont. – a request that has become a key test of whether the Harper government will provide financial aid to the auto industry.

“I understand that the project won't go ahead without Ottawa,” one industry source familiar with the proposal said Thursday, adding that Ontario has already agreed to come up with its $30-million share.

The previous federal government under the Liberals provided several hundred million dollars to help land new investments in Ontario by Ford, General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and others, but this is believed to be the first request the Harper government has received.

The Ontario government has a $650-million fund that is available to companies that provide jobs manufacturing new, environmentally friendly technologies in the province.

Industry sources said Ford has proposed assembling a new V8 engine at its Essex Engine Plant.

The plant had been making V6 and V8 engines, but closed in November after operating since 1981.

Complete story at the Globe and Mail

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Leading the way

The International Centre of Excellence for Local eDemocracy (ICELE)

"Democracy is much bigger than Party Politics. ICELE will work with all Parties to help ensure local people are well informed and have a real voice in local decision making. Democratic participation is steadily declining, yet opportunities to involve local people in local decision making, are growing every day. From text voting, to online consultations, we need to harness new technologies to make it easy for people across the country to get involved in the democratic process." Cllr Matthew Ellis

ICELE aims to provide best practice advice, support and practical solutions to help local authorities increase national eParticipation rates.
Fantastic site. Great bunch of links to some of the top eDemocracy sites in the world. Toolkit for delivering local eDemocracy.

Councillors blogging, hosting forums, chats, online petitions, webcasting, podcasting and teaching others how to do all of the above.

Windsor? We hire an Integrity Commissioner.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Around Town Tuesday - Jan 8th

1. Windsor International Film Festival today announced the screening of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days to be held at the Art Gallery of Windsor at 7 pm on January 24, 2008.

For further information, please check out the website at

2. 'Made-in-Windsor' feature film "Baby Blues" opens theatrically January 11 at Lakeshore Cinemas in Lakeshore

3. A retirement dinner honouring Chief of Police Glenn Stannard is being held on January 24th, 2008. The event is at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts ( former Cleary International Centre), 201 Riverside Drive West.

4. Following a theme of sorts today, an AM800 commentary worth listening to (H/T Paul McDonald).

5. New Windsor Facebook - Canadian Constitution Foundation Windsor Law Club, Ruggerfest, Windsor Essex Organic Natural Food Co-op

Just get it done

From Gord Henderson's column today on the possibility of hiring an Auditor-General:
" Marra said there are questions still to be answered. What would be the rules of engagement? How could frivolous complaints be avoided? How far could an auditor general go in investigating armslength groups like the police, library board, grant recipients and utility companies? "
Please don't tell me that this is going to require more studies and reports. This has been studied and reported to death. The act is VERY clear on what an Auditor General can and can't audit. Police, Library and Health Boards are exempt from the Auditor General, although the City of Toronto has voluntarily invited their Auditor to begin audits within these organizations. They plan to lobby the Provincial government to include these agencies when the City of Toronto Act is reviewed.

Rules of engagement? The Auditor General is an independent position, free to audit without any interference. Council, with a three quarters majority vote can direct the auditor to audit specific items. That's it.

Frivolous complaints? The Auditor General is an independent position, free to audit without any interference. A Municipal Auditor General is virtually identical to counterparts at the Federal and Provincial levels. Frivolous complaints don't factor in as the Auditor General is free to choose what to audit. Period, full stop.

Council has had a specific briefing from officials at the Ministry of Municpal Affairs. We already have one report that has been referred to the audit committee, and the potential for further reports and studies.

When I last blogged about this issue after my appearance at Council in October of 2007, I predicted it wouldn't come back until January and then most likely would be deferred due to funds not being allocated in the 2008 budget. For once, I sincerely hope I'm wrong.

Can we at least stop studying whether or not to implement the position and move forward to studying how to implement it sometime before the term of this current Council ends?

As far as being " in the forefront " of change, the City of Markham beat us to that back in October along with Oshawa , who by the way, is using the Auditor General to conduct service delivery reviews, instead of hiring outside consultants controlled by the City, at great expense.

Why would we, the taxpayers, want a truly independent Auditor General to conduct a service delivery review, without interference of any kind from either Council or the Administration?

Why indeed!

Related Posts and Links:

1. Three Card Monte - Windsor Style

2. Momentum grows for Windsor Auditor General

3. Amendments to the Ontario Municipal Act

4. City of Toronto Auditor General

5. Amendments to the Municipal Act 2001, Proclaimed - 01 January, 2007

6. Proclamation Facts : The Municipal Statute Law Amendment Act, 2006 (Bill 130)

7. Bill 130 2006 - The Municipal Statute Law Amendment Act

Monday, January 07, 2008

Quick Hits - Monday January 7th, 2008

1. Welcome to WE Speak's newest member 4-0 Wonderland.

2. Amen! The sooner the better. A regional approach is a great idea, but regional cooperation shouldn't be used as an excuse to continue studying and delaying a Windsor Auditor General. The Mayor's oft discussed "service delivery review" could begin immediately in the form of value for money audits by the Auditor General. With each passing day I'm convinced that the Mayor and Council are more concerned with the independence of an Auditor General than any cost or organizational factors. Don't forget, an independent Windsor Auditor General could still conduct a WUC audit, regardless of what is contained in the Municipal Audit report we are currently waiting for.

3. WE Speak's Inaugural Windsor Bloggers Meet - 23 Jan, 2008 - Spread the word. All are welcome.

4. Great post at Scale Down Windsor on the After Hours Bar debate. Scale Down contributor Mark Boscariol puts forward a reasonable compromise that balances business and community interests.

5. Windsor Police go online in their hunt for Mohamud Hagi. The site offers a way to submit anonymous tips. Facebook users can help the WPS spread the word. Use the "Share on Facebook" feature to post a note on your profile. Facebook user's networks can be used to quickly spread the word to tens of thousand of users across the Province and country. To create a "Share on Facebook" link in your browser, drag the Share link above to your browser's link bar and drop it there. Now simply navigate to the Hagi site and click the "Share on Facebook" link you just created. This will pop up a Facebook window which will allow you to post a note.

You can also help by joining the official Windsor Police Service Facebook group - Wanted - Mohamud Abukar HAGI, 25yrs - First Degree Murder

Either way, with a couple of quick clicks you can help do your part. (H/T to AM800 news)

6. More on livable, walkable cities from All About Cities blogger Wendy Waters. Personally, I see far more value investing in initiatives along these lines rather than spending hundreds of thousands on "branding" a city in transition.

7. Capitol Theatre open for business.

Update: New East End Arena webcam

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Canadian Blog Awards

The Canadian Blog Awards are an annual event where bloggers and blog readers have an opportunity to nominate and vote on their favourite blogs across numerous categories.

Windsor bloggers are well represented in several categories:

Best Activities Blog - Maple Syrup and Poutine

Best Blog - Windsor Eats

Best Education Blog - Michael's English Usage

Best Local Blog - International Metropolis, Windsor Eats

Best New Blog - Scale Down Windsor, Windsor Eats

Nominations close on the 11 of January, followed by the first round of voting (7 days). The top 4 blogs in each category will then be announced, with the final round of voting also lasting 7 days.

Windsor Blogger Meet

I've been wanting to do a blogger meet for a long while, and at the prodding of a few other bloggers, have finally got around to arranging things.

WE Speak Bloggers Meet

Date: Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

Location: The Mill, 3199 Sandwich St, Windsor

Time: 8:00 pm

The Mill has parking in the back and best of all - free wireless internet, if you wish to bring your laptop.

What I would like to do with this event is have it every couple of months in a different location in Windsor, hopefully hosted by a different person or group. March could be downtown and May in Walkerville, for example.

The event is meant as an opportunity for bloggers to get together and swap stories, tips, tricks and even possible collaborations. The evening is open to bloggers, wanna-be bloggers, commenters and generally anyone who may be interested.

Windsor has developed an lively and diverse community of bloggers. Come on out and take advantage of the opportunity to meet the souls behind the keyboards.