Monday, March 31, 2008
The new site represents a much needed update for the Development Commission. The site is crisp, clean and easy to navigate.
The only fault I can find is having no syndication for the site. Syndication works for you 24hrs a day, seven days a week and doesn't require salary, cost of living increases or pension benefits. It never ceases to amaze me how governments and their related agencies don't realize the value of RSS in delivering/syndicating their message.
Here are two feeds I've created for the WEDC:
I wanted to create a feed for Press Releases as well, but currently there is not enough content to scrape (one Press Release).
I've created a WEDC Events module on WE Speak and have incorporated the News into the aggregator.
PS. Maybe someone from the Development commission could forward the name of their web developer to the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Please. Soon.
Edit: Choose Windsor link fixed.
This is something I've had on the to-do list for a while and finally got around to. With the successful launch of London Speak in November and last week's launch of Guelph Speak I realized if I didn't make some changes now, the work would only continue to pile up.
The template offers a cleaner, faster load time along with the new wider look. I'm hoping the wider template will also be a little more tolerant with those few pesky posts that break the template now and again.
In the back-end I'm working with the aggregator's developer to resolve the issue of occasional double posts. The code that parses the feeds is still in beta and has some more tweaking and tuning left to do.
Some Future Additions/Upgrades planned:
1. Upgrading the site to Joomla 1.5; (this is the web platform used for the all the Speak sites)
2. Adding Video and Podcast feeds from the area;
3. Separate frontpage tab to highlight and easily access local Video and podcasts feeds;
4. Video Submissions - got a great Windsor/Essex related video you want to highlight? You'll be able to submit the video to WE Speak and it will be incorporated into the site. No blog or website required. (over 40 different video sharing sites such as YouTube, Google Video and MetaCafe will be supported);
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Forces seek recruitsLT(N) Churm needs to practice his spin a hell of a lot more if he's going to sell that piece of horse hockey.
Don Lajoie, Windsor Star
Published: Saturday, March 29, 2008
Noting that in 2007 the forces recruited 6,800 members from across Canada, Churm said it was decided to focus this year on areas where it was believed the forces have not traditionally enjoyed a high profile. He identified Windsor and Essex County as one of those areas despite the fact that 80 per cent of force members come from Southern Ontario.
Windsor is home to HMCS Hunter Naval Reserve Division along with the storied Essex and Kent Scottish Infantry Regiment, Windsor Regiment Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, 21 Service Battalion Combat Service Support unit and the Windsor Military Band. For a city of just over 200,000, short of having an actual base or station, that's a lot of military profile.
The Windsor and Essex county area has always had a high participation rate in the CAF due to a number of factors, one of them being the boom and bust cycle of automotive manufacturing.
The area's unemployment rate is currently 8.9%, second only to the Saguenay region of Quebec. Of particular interest to the military would be the large pool of young skilled trades currently on layoff.
If you're trying to attract the best and brightest to join, don't start by trying to snow people. It leaves a bad impression.
Cross posted from The Torch
Friday, March 28, 2008
Ontario Ombudsman probes concert scandalWhich reminds me. Have we heard yet what we get for our $85,000 dollar a year, five year investment in the Detroit Grand Prix? Are there VIP access passes and tickets? Who gets what?
British pop star Elton John performs in Riga last September.Ilmars Znotins, AFP, Getty ImagesBritish pop star Elton John performs in Riga last September.
Nearly a month after an Elton John concert in Sudbury ignited a furor when city councillors were given first dibs on tickets, Ontario's Ombudsman is using his new powers to investigate whether a meeting related to the surrounding controversy was inappropriately held in secret.
It's your tax dollars paying for it, we should have all the details. If Arts Groups have to provide detailed reports and statistics related to their funding, why should the City be exempt?
YouTube Reveals Video Analytics Tool for All UsersFuture rollouts will include the all important referral tracking. Hopefully this will lead to some sort of integration with Google Analytics. Adding metrics should help with selling the use of YouTube for political campaigns to decision makers.
Whether a YouTube video has 10 views or 10,000,000, people always want to know the same thing: who's watching this? Where do viewers come from? How did they find my video?
Finally, we have some answers. Today we're releasing YouTube Insight, a free tool that enables anyone with a YouTube account to view detailed statistics about the videos that they upload to the site. For example, uploaders can see how often their videos are viewed in different geographic regions, as well as how popular they are relative to all videos in that market over a given period of time. You can also delve deeper into the lifecycle of your videos, like how long it takes for a video to become popular, and what happens to video views as popularity peaks.
To see the new feature go to My account > Videos, Favorites, Playlists > Manage my Videos - Click on the "About Video" button.
Cross Posted from Blue Blogging Soapbox
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Pity he didn't express these same concerns prior to October of 2007. Maybe, if for once in their life, Windsor stopped voting for the status quo, we might actually begin to see some results beyond the usual rhetoric.
Dalton McGuinty blames Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty for all the provinces woes in the typical federal/provincial blame game. Gord and his puppet master Eddie take this to new levels, blaming Stephen Harper, Jim Flaherty, Dwight Duncan, Sandra Puppatello, Gary McNamara, DRIC, DRTP, "naysayers", the Ambassador Bridge Company and virtually anyone else who has the temerity to disagree with them, for all the woes that are or will befall Windsor.
If ever there was a mirror looking for a reflection it's Gord, Eddie and the rest of Windsor's trained seals on City Council.
PS. the Duncan and Puppatello that Henderson waxes nostalgic about were members of the official opposition, railing against the "evil" of then Premier Mike Harris. As far as who "neutered" them, blame Dalton McGuinty, the day he named them to cabinet.
PS 2. love the optics of Duncan purchasing a new Blackberry for budget day instead of a new pair of shoes. All the better to PIN everyone in Windsor his regrets.
I have friend who rented an apartment to a ward of the CAS. This young 16 year old moved in with the approval of his caseworker. Within 6 weeks there had been so much damage done to the apartment that it was comprising others within the building. In that entire 6 weeks the ward was never once visited by his caseworker. The "tenant" left after 7 weeks, leaving the CAS with a bill of over $30,000 for damages. In order to rehabilitate the unit, the owner literally had to take it back to the studs and start over throughout the entire apartment. Nothing was left undamaged, including the shattered toilet and broken bath tub and shower. To make things worse, the only way the owner was able to actually collect for damages was to threaten to take his problems to the local media. I watched for months as my friend tried to get Mr. Bevan and his agency to accept responsibility for the problem. Thankfully, he was smart enough to have not only the tenant but his caseworker sign the lease. Without that second signature, he was certainly on a path to "to bad, so sad" as far as the agency was concerned.
Another case of ineptitude concerned two wards of the CAS and their lack of supervision. An apartment across the road from mine was rented for two young wards of the CAS. One Saturday evening an employee of mine was assaulted on his way into work, to the extent that he has never worked for me again (he actually ceased employment with two companies due to the severity of his injuries). This man was swarmed by a group that included the two wards and their friends who were partying with them at their CAS provided apartment. For the simple offense of stepping out of his vehicle this man was beaten senseless and literally left for dead. Ultimately, only two people were held to account and their sentence was less than a slap on this wrist. The whole neighbourhood celebrated the departure of these individuals following the incident. I'm not sure what the CAS did with these ladies after the incident, and you can call me crass or hard-hearted for feeling so, but I was overjoyed for seeing the back side of them when they left.
The CAS, much like many other government agencies, is a bureaucratic monster out of control. Until it is reigned in and controlled, I really don't have much sympathy for their stories of woe as portrayed by the Star. BTW, please don't misconstrue this mini-rant as an attack on the front line workers, who I believe we don't have enough of. This is most certainly pointed at the middle and upper management, who in my belief, we have far too much of.
Public school board slapped with hefty fineThat's $40,000 that the school board doesn't have to contribute to your child's education because someone can't follow the basic rules. How many people involved in this decision making process made over the $100,000 dollar threshold for public reporting?
WINDSOR - The public school board has been fined $40,000 by the Ontario Ministry of Labour for failing to comply with orders to provide ample time for joint health and safety committees to carry out inspections at schools under its jurisdiction.
Penny Allen, superintendent of business for the Greater Essex County District School Board, entered a guilty plea to a single non-compliance charge Wednesday in provincial offences court. The charge stems from instances in which inspections were not conducted, or not enough time was allowed for inspections to be completed by management and union representatives
Regardless of whether you're in favour of unions or not, this is basic stuff. Who's held accountable? Are those responsible still receiving a "performance bonus" for the year?
How would your boss react if you were a private sector manager slapped with a $40,000 dollar fine? Would your employee responsible for the situation still have a job?
What is your local school board representative doing about this? Although they don't have the profile of City Councillors, these people should have no less accountability when it comes to situations like this. Most people's reaction would be one of disgust if ABC Co. Inc. of Windsor was fined in such a manner, why should our reaction be any different because it's a public institution?
What would $40,000 dollars buy the board for next year? A new playground, books for the library or equipping a new gym?
Is anyone responsible?
Welcome to the public sector. Your tax dollars at work!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
"Dwight's Duncan Donuts."
Rich in rhetoric, empty in the middle and sprinkled with enough spending to get the masses hooked.
Dunk it though, and this budget falls apart, just like Ontario's bleeding economy.
Linda Leatherdale, telling it like it is.Lorrie Goldstein brings it home with a rousing version of "Where oh Where did the environment go?"
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Nazzani said her door is open to any tenant who wants to discuss the airport's future and hinted she may consider gathering them together.With all the Federal money being poured into the runways, at least we'll have a decent dragstrip once the City finishes running the place into the ground.
"The onus is on them to come to me. I'm not involved in their business. I have said to them, if you need something come talk to us. I want them to succeed, because if they succeed the airport will grow."
The library had $370,000 in reserves at the end of 2007, but that figure drops to $148,000 under the approved budget. Foster hopes some of those funds - at least $80,000 - will be replenished by the end of the year through late fees and fines.Not content with draining Windsor City reserves over the last four years, Council seems intent on making sure agencies like the Library Board do the same thing.
Anyone that feels that ALL City departments and agencies have been subjected to the same level of scrutiny and cutbacks, please feel free to comment.
Monday, March 24, 2008
At the very least, when the Star runs one of these earned media bits for the Liberal Party, they could properly identify Mr. Brown-John's complete resume.
If there is anything "insidious" going on, it's allowing these sort of attack pieces to continue, cloaked in the mantle of academic analysis.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Francis's FundIn Windsor, we just skip all the preliminaries and go right to the spending part.
Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr credits the fund with drawing two university campuses downtown as well as stimulating residential and commercial development, attracting new businesses and forging public-private partnerships. However, the city had to embark on a lengthy public consultation process with voters as well as councillors who initially balked at the notion of increasing spending.
"It was controversial," said Zehr.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Ontario is being urged to go after a new Volkswagen assembly plant. The German automaker is searching North America for a site for a new plant. But, Windsor-Essex is not considered a possibility. Development commission C-E-O Matt Fischer says there's a lack of available workers.Somehow, I don't think that's the defining issue in this situation. When previous non-Big 3 plants have had job fairs, the applications have numbered in the tens of thousands, regardless of location.
Quick - name the new automotive assembly plants built in Ontario in the last ten years that have been located anywhere near traditional union cities like Windsor or Oshawa. Stumped? How about zero?
Regardless of the 1000 pound union gorilla in the room everyone refuses to talk about, Windsor's future does not and should not rely on trying to attract automotive assembly plants to the city. The Big 3 aren't building and the rest aren't interested, no matter what the incentive.
R and D and sports tourism are two bright spots in our foreseeable future. In addition, former Mayor John Millson has the right idea in matching manufacturing needs out west with excess capacity here in Ontario. Saskatchewan just announced their budget with huge increases in infrastructure spending. There are opportunities there that allow us to send finished product out west instead of skilled labour.
TRANSPORT CANADA PROPOSES SAFETY REGULATIONS TO SUPPORT THE INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES AND TUNNELS ACT
OTTAWA — The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced proposed regulations that would support the International Bridges and Tunnels Act by introducing requirements for owners of Canada's 24 vehicular international bridges and tunnels to inspect and report to the Minister of Transport on the safety of their structures on a regular basis.
The proposed regulations would apply to the Canadian sections of the vehicular international bridges and tunnels, and put into place requirements concerning reporting and scheduled inspections. They would also require reports every two years on maintenance and operations, including frequency and type of major maintenance performed, inspection results, the type of vehicles permitted and any restrictions placed on them. In addition, the reports would also identify any necessary actions to ensure the structures are kept in good condition.
... The proposed amendments have been published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, and a 30-day response period will follow until April 21, 2008. During the consultations, interested parties may provide their comments to the department. After consideration of all comments received, Transport Canada will finalize the amendments and publish them in the Canada Gazette, Part II, at which time the regulations will come into effect.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Now that the broad strokes of the Mayor's plan are out there, it's time for Windsor City Councillors to do their job.
If we're treated to the usual trained seal performance we've become accustomed to, then the chances of my naysayers blog being posted will increase exponentially. For once I'd like to be proved wrong, but I'm not holding my breath.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Add in the cost of building a parking lot for the call centre and you now have at least $750,000. It would also be interesting to know how many of the 469 have remained at Sutherland? How many are now collecting unemployment or back on social assistance? It's the little things they never tell you about.
In 2007, Windsor's Social Services Department contracted with Sutherland Global Services in a municipal - provincial cost sharing partnership.
It funded a 4-week skills enhancement and customer service training program.
The Province contributed 80 percent of the training cost which was $400,000 dollars. The City contributed 20 percent, or $100,000 dollars.
Thanks to the job training investments we made, 469 people who had been on social assistance here in Windsor got jobs.
For our combined one-time investment of $500,000 dollars the City and the Province are now saving $949,000 dollars annually.
Nearly doubling our investment in the first year alone.
That's just smart.
I wonder how all the businesses who have been paying through the nose over the last several years will appreciate the "development" fund being used to subsidize new businesses? Every last dollar in that fund, from whatever level of government, is your tax dollars which the bureaucrats and politicians will now use to bet on winners and losers in business.
Just a reminder - $144 billion dollars used to subsidize businesses over the last 10 years - about equal to what a 30 % tax reduction would cost for ALL businesses instead of handouts to a select few.
More later on the "naysayers" (meaning those that don't agree with things like paying the Detroit Grand Prix $85,000 a year for five years instead of spending the money locally, and passing it at 1 o'clock in the morning with no debate or public input - those naysayers!)
PS. I wonder if the local arts community realized that on the same night they were fighting for their funding, the Grand Prix funding was already a virtual fait accompli?
Monday, March 17, 2008
2. Any Federal money, if it was forthcoming, would only be handled by an Opportunities Agency, like the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Any control would be vested in the political Minister for the Province, in this case Environment Minister John Baird. While a Regional Economic Development Commission would have input, to think that it would be the "driving force" of any such fund is wishful thinking of the highest order. It's possible a Community Business Development Corporation model could be proposed, but these have generally been targeted at smaller rural communities along the size of Essex or Leamington. I won't even get into Windsor's propensity for lobbing hand grenades at anyone and everyone and what that does for our political capital.
3. Windsor bloggers Meet - Wednesday March 19th, Milk Coffee Bar, 68 University Avenue West 7:00 pm
4. Subsidies to failing businesses are the knee-jerk panacea of politicians programmed to "do something" about every problem.
5.Majority of Ontario hospitals refuse to be identified in report card comparing patient care. Met and Windsor Western are listed, Hotel Dieu is absent.
6. Interesting story on Vancouver's efforts to control the Granville party district. Treoscope - the software helping improve things.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I had kissed my family good-bye at the train station in Guelph on Saturday morning. A train to Trenton, overnight there, a flight to Greenwood Nova Scotia the next morning and that last fateful bus ride to Cornwallis. Lord knows I had no idea what I was in for. I remember leaving home wearing a spring jacket and waking up Monday morning in Cornwallis to about 2 feet of snow.
As much as I hated virtually every minute I ever spent in Cornwallis, there is no doubt in my mind that the time I spent there helped define who and what I am today. Although I didn't end up spending my entire career in the Navy, I relish every day I was in. The people and the experiences were second to none.
Ready Aye Ready.
Cross posted to Blue Blogging Soapbox
Monday, March 10, 2008
2. Kudos to Mr. Neufeld for his Letter to the Editor, but when your letter includes a line like this:
"I remain frustrated with comments from certain ratepayers that damage EnWin's reputation without regard to the many improvements made to infrastructure, customer service, and yes, to its bottom line."
It tells me there are communications challenges yet to be overcome. How frustrated do you think the ratepayers are, especially when the messages are often fractured, complicated and reactive instead of simple, constant and proactive?
3. March Break - take a little extra time driving to and from work - Kids at play!
4. Win a Dinner for Two - it's as easy as a couple clicks, a little bit of typing and enjoying some of your favourite dining.
5. As opposed to Windsor, other communities are embracing blogging as a form of Municipal communication. The site is growing and thriving with new blogs being added every week, both on the official and unofficial sides.
6. Hmm..., the choice for next Monday is going to be so difficult to make. I think the Irish in me is going to win.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
I mentioned earlier this week how beneficial Councillor Ken Lewenza Jr. was for Alan Halberstadt's traffic. It seems that WE Speak tends to get some spillover from Councillor Ken's little tirades. At the same time Alan's traffic spiked last week, WE Speak received a corresponding spike, although not quite as high - around 35%.
So Councillor Ken, the bloggers of Windsor and Essex County thank-you for your strenuous efforts on their behalf.
(Pssst - if you can, feel free to blow off some steam around the 3rd week of March. We could use some extra traffic to help promote our next Bloggers Meet. )
Friday, March 07, 2008
This is the second audit from the former City Auditor (who resigned in December) that is more than a year old. How many other stale-dated audits are waiting in the wings?
Notice the response when Councillor's step out of line these days? We keep hearing about veiled references to the as-yet to be established Integrity Commissioner. Is this a coincidence? It certainly appears that there are some who would see this position used as a weapon to silence others. Glass houses and all the other appropriate descriptive pictures would seem to apply here. Something about the law of unintended consequences should be contemplated as well along with a dash of Pandora's Box for good measure.
What is becoming patently obvious is that it is the Auditor-General whose hiring should be sped up, not the Integrity Commissioner.
The other disturbing pattern is that anyone, anywhere, anytime who has anything to say contrary to the mantra chanted from City Hall experiences an anvil the likes of which Wile E. Coyote could only understand.
When the vote is now 9 to 1 for an Audit at the Library, (that recently passed a similar audit with flying colours), along with a five year, line by line audit of past budgets, things seem to be moving at a speed that would take away the average Windsorite's breath.
When people look at Councillor Alan Halberstadt as the "1" at either end of these votes, everyone of course will automatically believe all the assertions that nothing politically motivated is happening.
Excuse me while I go take a double dose of the stupid pills Council obviously thinks every citizen in Windsor takes on a daily basis.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I checked WUC's Media Release page - nothing.
Public Information. Must be getting warmer.
Meeting Agendas and Minutes. Bingo - this must be it!
Nothing there except some old minutes from November of 2007 and agendas for January and February's meetings. No minutes for the first two months of the year.
I can't find a notice anywhere about Audit sub-committee meetings for the Windsor Utilities Commission.
Were there notices placed in the Windsor Star that I didn't come across? If anyone has seen any sort of notice, please drop me a line or post a comment. Have the media been informed about these public meeting?
Simply declaring a meeting open to the public doesn't make it a public meeting unless you actually tell people.
It didn't take long to figure out why.
Every time Councillor Lewenza goes on one of his rants, the blog traffic generally doubles. Whether he realizes it or not, Councillor Lewenza has done more for Alan's traffic than any ad campaign ever could.
Rant on Councillor Ken. You can even mention my blog if you wish - I could use another bump in traffic!
Monday, March 03, 2008
2. Hopefully this is the last we ever hear(.pdf) of the "Distillery District" as it relates to Windsor.
3. Canada loses a great musician.
4. Media City is off and running this week. Best wishes for a successful event.
At the Windsor bloggers meet last Wednesday, I discussed with several people some of the issues surrounding the blogroll and how it's updated. In a nutshell, it's a unique service provided for free. There is no way to alter or improve it at this point, unless you are willing to create your own.
There are several things individual bloggers can do to ensure their blog moves up the roll whenever they post:
1. If you are using Feedburner - go to Publicize - Ping Shot. Make sure you choose Weblogs.com and Ping-o-matic as two of your choices;
2. If you use blogging software that allows for automatic pinging add - http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/ - to your list;
3. You can manually ping Blogrolling by visiting this page and entering your data;
4. Ping-o-matic is similar to the Blogrolling manual ping, except it covers a number of different services at the same time.