My goodness you would think the discussion as of late as to whether or not Mayor Francis would break another of his election promises from 2003 and seek a third term was on par with the Rapture.
Frankly – and I’ll be blunt – I could care less about this contrived little spectacle.
I responded to an acquaintance of mine last month when he asked whether or not Mayor Francis would seek a third term that of course he will – the ‘indecision’ was blatant political manipulation and the oldest campaign trick in the book – and it seems to be working.
One doesn’t have to read tea leaves to put the pieces together either.
From the perfectly timed announcements of new investments – just months before the polls open – to council’s sellout over the “non-negotiable” tunnels of Greenlink after instilling fear about the death and destruction the W.E. Parkway would bring, miraculously resolved with a fistful of cash and 50 meters of greenspace all pointed to the predictable announcement.
However, my question from September 2009 still stands: If not Eddie then who? Of course, with the Windsor Star essentially endorsing the Mayor before he even announced, to me, was a dead give-away as to the strategy of the local operators of the Star.
No Mayoral candidate stands a chance with either the majority of the editorial board or their opinion columnists – though to Chris Vander Doelen’s credit, he was pretty much upfront back in April at the Candidates Information Night at Phog back in April:
Laying bare his strategy, Mr. Vander Doelen proceeded to inform potential candidates that incumbents would garner the most media attention because, “they have a name” and “that’s just how it is” in the media world. Funny how that wasn’t reported in the Star’s coverage of the night…
…That is the choice the Windsor Star has made – and a convenient one at that which was perceived that night by some as an attempt to shore up support for incumbents while casting doubt upon every single municipal candidate – unless of course they come out against our friends, neighbours, and family members. I”m sure we’ll read a lot of about those candidates.
And the proof as they say is in the pudding. Frankly, I’m surprised we haven’t read about our Mayor’s eating habits or what he bought at the grocery store considering the non-announcements announcing a future announcement.
But more revealing to me was the online star chat with the Mayor – all that was missing was the fireplace – though there was plenty of fire after the Mayor left.
Unusually quiet the Mayor actually didn’t say much – however what he said spoke volumes.
On the Arena & The Cleary
Mike, here’s the reason the arena got moved to the east end, early in 2004 we were part of discussions wit the OLG and the province of Ontario and Windsor Casino Limited as it related to their plans for expansion.
In 2004, their plans did not contemplate a 100,000 sq. ft. facility and did not contemplate the Colleseum as it is today as an entertainment centre. Through our discussion with the parties we had indicated to them that if they built a proper convention centre, we would get out of the convention business and we did by transffering the Cleary to the college, which in turn brought 1,000 students downtown,
Furthermore, we understood that if the casino was going to build a 5,000 seat entertainment complex with big name acts, that city building an arena downtown would’ve been killed and 99.9 per cent of the residents would have chased us out of town for building another white elephant. So as not to repeat the mistakes of the past we came up with a plan that allowed us to mover forward with an arena on the east side, which was made financially viable by consolidating Adstoll Arena, Riverside Arena and the Edward St. Community into the WFCU Center.
Had we not done that, we would’ve spent another 30 years talking about the arena and most of the people typing in today would be saying don’t vote for the mayor because he can’t get an arena built.
I’ve never ever heard that reason uttered out of our local elected officials mouths. In fact, quite the contrary.
Mayor Francis said back on March 10, 2007:
“I would like to thank everyone who is involved on the city side as well on the college side,” Francis said.
“All of the employees and everyone is well aware that this started a year and a half, two years ago, they came to us with an idea and thanks to the dedicated and commitment of parties on both sides of the table were able to come up with the reality today.”
And on June 15, 2006:
Mayor Eddie Francis described the negotiations as “tough” because the Cleary’s substantial annual losses were well known in the community. “We wanted to be sure the city and the college were equally getting the same benefit.”
But the city is pleased with the deal because it is one more piece in the urban village puzzle. A thriving downtown with hundreds of students will attract other businesses such as bookstores, cafes and shops.
But nope, the Mayor clarified during his online chat the real reason:
“if they built a proper convention centre, we would get out of the convention business and we did by transffering the Cleary to the college.”
As to the arena – I haven’t forgotten Mayor Francis’ pledge in 2003:
We need to revive the idea of public/private partnership for a new arena. It is the only realistic strategy available that will ensure that this project will become a reality.
The case for a new arena has been made over the past several years by numerous groups. We need to move forward, recognizing what other municipalities already know. London, Mississauga, and Sarnia all have new structures that have become successful entities and address community needs. Their example is worth noting: a multipurpose facility cannot be built by public nor the private sector interests acting alone. The synergy created by the private/public partnerships gives better service to the taxpayer, and allows a much needed multipurpose facility to be built in our City.
The partnership protects the asset to make sure that it continues to serve the community for the long term by attracting trade shows and conventions and by fostering new economic activity. It provides diversified management experience and substantially reduced taxpayer cost, and encourages a broader spectrum of usage.
A public/private partnership is the key to our arena’s ongoing success and viability. Council has already allocated the required money and land for this project – we need to aggressively seek a partner.
The required money and land for the project – some $15-million and the downtown Super Anchor Site which then morphed into paying $4-million for the land in the east end; as well as the give-away of prime riverfront property valued at $2-million to a private investor.
This is in addition to the costs of expropriating all the land in the Super Anchor site for the purposes of an arena.
As the Windsor Star reported on June 5, 2005:
The city has earmarked $15 million for such a project but has never been able to reach agreement on either a public-private partnership or a go-it-alone project.
“I’m very cautious about being optimistic because we’ve been there before,” said Francis. “But, on the surface at least, the difference between this and other proposals is that the city in this case would be an investor and would not assume any project or operating risk.
That proposal – Project Ice-Track.
5 years later – taxpayers were on the hook for $70-million as well as project and operating risks and three arenas that remain unsold and a current arena not meeting financial expectations.
Unfortunately, I was proven correct as was Chris Kruba of Project Ice Track:
Kruba said the group hired the auditors Sept. 23, the day after the arena report was released, because the information contained in the report was disturbing. For instance, the Ice Track group did not understand why its proposal for a one-time payment of $15 million from the city was lumped in with the cost to build an east end facility to serve community ice needs in Riverside and Adstoll. By being dragged into that scenario, the $15 million cost of the Ice Track Project shot up to $48 million.
“As soon as we received the administration report we thought it was suspect,” Kruba said. “One of the reasons we wanted to get out of this is because we didn’t want to be part of the process if it was a flawed process.”
Mmm. $48-million versus $70-million – a number project ice-track floated as to the cost of the city’s go-it alone initiative:
The report says the Collavino proposal “that Mayor Eddie Francis has been publicly promoting” as returning an approximate $500,000 profit “will actually result in a net loss to taxpayers” of about $1.6 million.
Capital costs of the proposal will be almost $70 million, which is about $15 million higher than stated in the arena report.
But the real reason the arena went to the east-end:
“We understood that if the casino was going to build a 5,000 seat entertainment complex with big name acts, that city building an arena downtown would’ve been killed.”
No mention of that publicly in the great arena debate.
On the Ambassador Bridge
Obviously, there are some people who read my blogs – more specifically, my blog entitled, Twinning by Stealth?
One commentator wrote:
This is of great concern sir can you please tell us if you have been twinning the Ambassador Bridge by stealth? Do you have further plans for Huron Church from Mill st. to Industrial Drive?
Well, not quite what I wrote as my concerns were directed at the Federal Government, however the Mayor’s answer to this question was most intriguing:
I haven’t had to anything vis a vis the Ambassador Bridge. They haven’t filed the paperwork and the city isn’t the one that approves the permits for the Ambassador Bridge, that’s federal.
Good to know the Mayor finally understands the International Bridges and Tunnels Act. But what I found intriguing about his response was the total and complete cop-out reminiscent of the sell-out of Greenlink.
And strangely silent on the issue given his stance of over three years ago with respect to a possible twinned Ambassador Bridge:
When you consider the environmental impacts, the cultural impacts, the neighbourhood impacts, the community impacts, it doesn’t work.
If it doesn’t work for the private sector, it won’t work should the Federal government purchase the Ambassador Bridge and twin it to meet up with the US side’s gateway project that can accommodate two spans.
Unfortunately for the commentator, the Mayor left the scene at 1:30 – just before the really interesting questions surfaced.
You didn’t answer my question, with the demise of the tourist info and the location of boarded up Edison homes and widening prince road and the bridges allready built plaza and approach ramp are you saying you know nothing of twinning the bridge by stealth? Please answer.
But an even more interesting statement was the following with respect to the boarded-up homes on Indian Road:
Indian Road homes — It is despicable and deplorable that the Ambassador Bridge as a corporate citizen would use their property, that they own, to attack people’s right to live in a safe, appealing neighbourhoood and community.
ON a number of occasions, we have invited the bridge to come forward with a plan and apply for a demolitio permit so this issue could be dealt with.
Just last week, the Ambassador Bridge asked for a delay in a September OMB hearing so as to wait for the matter to court. This is the most depicable form of blockbusting that we’ve seen.
However, according to my inside sources – the city agreed to the delay – nice try Mayor Francis – but why?
Gee – I know, because the city has conducted and created a Heritage Conservation District through a bylaw that encompasses some of the homes owned by the Ambassador Bridge Company.
I would think allowing these “heritage homes” to be torn down would place the city in quite the legal predicament because how can the city claim heritage value of the homes and then allow them to be torn down? That would make a mockery of council’s actions and bring into question the purpose then of including homes owned by the Ambassador Bridge Company in the Heritage Conservation District.
This is the primary reason why I could care less if the Mayor announced or not.
I’d rather focus my attentions on supporting new councillors with new ideas and more importantly, a back-bone to keep in check any individual who assumes the Mayoral chair.
Because in the end, from my perspective, the Mayor has been permitted to manipulate, divert and divide the electorate by at least 6 willing members of council.