Anne Jarvis: Almost Hard-Hitting
In case you’re wondering, “hard-hitting” is the term used to describe Gord in his bio on the Windsor Star website.
One has to wonder if Gord is soon going to give up his space in the Saturday Star and go off and do more exciting things. It seems to me that we are getting those signals considering how aggressive Anne Jarvis is become in her recent columns. Or so she seems until one reads her columns carefully.
I would hope that Ms. Jarvis has understood that she is not there yet if she wants to be described as hard-hitting. She must realize that she needs to reach that plateau if she hopes to win a Newspaper award like her colleague. I’m sure that she was disappointed not to win one this year in the competition even though she was able to single-handedly in her columns to make massive changes in the City. Yet she was not able to take the ultimate step in a number of instances. I don’t need to repeat what you already know I mean by that.
Her columns over the last couple of days are very interesting. Unfortunately, I don’t think she has yet overcome her serious problem in order to be called hard-hitting.
Let’s take her BYD column on May 16, 2012 in the Windsor Star as an example “BYD in driver’s seat.” I expect that she does not write the headline but the way I read it is that the column will tell us what a dumb deal this is for Windsor with the Chinese company calling the shots.
However, while she asks good questions, she allows Edgar (aka Eddie) to provide answers that are hardly satisfactory. She lets him get away with it without any follow-up. It is almost as bad as the lob throwers on CKLW. Let me give some examples:
1) She asks the question: “Does the city have to buy the buses to get the assembly plant?” Edgar never answers that but goes off on a tangent about the environment, we are now “world-class” again, we are going to save money without providing any details
2) She asks: “can BYD still build its factory somewhere else?” Here she shines by getting Edgar to admit “They could,” said Francis. “But it’s our hope that within that year, we’ll be able to lock them down.” No follow up on that startling admission though that makes a mockery of our purchase. Good to know our future is built on “hope” though.
3) Annie does herself a disservice by protecting her colleague who told us a year ago that we had the deal with BYD. She does not mention that in her history of negotiations
4) Then off she goes on the slippery slope: “There are a lot of questions, and Francis seems to have an answer for all of them.” She doesn’t challenge him on his answers.
5) “Transit Windsor has already budgeted $3 million for six to eight new buses this year.” Sure, but that money was for hybrid buses, an issue that was studied carefully and was even brought to Council. That must mean we are not getting some of those buses but rather are getting buses that are still experimental especially in cold weather.
6) “Buses are usually tendered, but BYD is the only company that makes electric buses.” Oh, they have been single sourced. No Tenders, no RFPs from other potential suppliers say, like the one in Canada that has an electric bus or other Chinese companies who have them.
7) “the price, including the cost of a station to charge them, has not been established… The company has agreed to charge no more than hybrid buses, which is about $600,000.” In other words, we have no idea what the real costs are including operation and maintenance. We also don’t know if the $600,000 charge is for every bus purchased or just for the “experimental” ones. Moreover, who would buy them if the costs were too high! Actually, why are we paying anything for them if we are the guinea pigs.
8 ) “Do we want to go out there and try to attract new companies or do we just sit back and wait for what?” Francis asked?” Interesting point except as was said by the head of the Undevelopment Commission years ago, a City can’t do it by itself… It needs the Federal and Provincial Governments involved. Moreover, given Edgar’s singular lack of achievement, why is he the guy going out there and doing things?
How things change as well. Now we don’t have an agreement but merely a Letter of Intent. Presumably, there is no binding legal agreement at this time and there may never be.
Moreover, I’m so glad that we are helping out BYD with their convention announcement. That is a very good reason why we have to rush, rush, rush and have an e-mail poll so that Councillors can’t sit down together and discuss this issue rationally together but rather are kept separate and apart.
Let us go back of it and take a look at her Enwin column on May 14, 2012 in the Star: “Secrecy, suspicion dog Enwin.”
Annie was much better in this column. Why, she got Edgar to say:
“You want meetings open? Go ahead, we’ll open meetings. You want salaries? Go ahead. We’ll give you salaries,” said Francis, clearly irked. “I’m not going to waste any more time chasing conspiracy theories. We’re not hiding anything.”
Oh dear, he forgot about expense accounts and bonuses and who knows what else. So did Annie. I did not see Edgar offering to disclose that.
A mere quarter of $1 million for Board Members. A pittance when it means increasing Councillor salaries so dramatically. Unfortunately, it would have been nice if Annie had disclosed some interrelationships amongst the Board Members as I did a little while ago. Then she could have let in Star subscribers about matters that Windsor Square readers already know.
Annie says that she wants to know what the Board members do for their money. Why didn’t she just asked Edgar since he was there answering her questions.
Why didn’t she go right after Edgar. Why is she so afraid? Edgar made it appear as if everything was open and yet, when she asked for information, here is what happened:
“So I asked for the minutes for the last two years. Since the meetings aren’t public, I was told to request them under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Then I asked for just the attendance records and the length of the meetings. I was told that’s too much information.”
I’m not going to go through the rest of the column where she just asks very good questions. Unfortunately, she gets no answers. Why didn’t she demand them from the Mayor if he was right in front of her? Why bother interviewing him in the first place.
She complains that municipal corporations don’t have to tell us anything, that Airport meetings are closed, that we will not find out how much airport employees make (even classmates of the Mayor’s wife) or presumably what expenses they have paid out and so on and so on and so on.
However, where was the hard-hitting Jarvis going right after the person who obviously could arrange for all of the complaints that she had to be dealt with and solved? Why didn’t she denounce him?
Not our fearless Star columnist. She backed off. She allowed Edgar to get away with this kind of a nonsense answer:
“Board meetings at Enwin and the airport are closed because these are commercial entities, Francis says.”
Really, with whom do they compete that they have to be so secretive!
Finally, let’s take a look at her May 11, 2012 Column on the Police: “Police must look in mirror.”
She takes a strip off of the Police by saying:
“Whether it’s changing police culture or bargaining a reasonable contract – and I have no doubt that’s a factor, too – the mayor is standing up to the police. That’s what this is all about.”
No, that is not what it is about. He is not standing up to anyone. That is why the Star has to do his dirty work by putting in so many articles about why the Police are wrong. Edgar is in the spotlight and he could be removed as a Board member, something that could impact him personally.
She knows what it is all about because she wrote about it months ago. It is about mismanagement of the Department by a Police Services Board whose Head has missed about half of the meetings.
It is about not having an answer to the question she asked back in January
“But is this a chairman who is spread too thin, who is distracted? Because this board can’t afford that…
“Because I miss board meetings doesn’t mean I’m not there,” he said…
But is that the way to run a police board in the midst of a firestorm, drawing national headlines?” (Anne Jarvis Windsor Star January 6, 2012)
It is about asking why the Mayor had to be in China and postponed twice a Police Services Board meeting, once at least so that he would not be marked absent, at a time when the City was in crisis over the Councillor Bigshot Scandal.
At the end of her column, there is Tough Annie:
“Maybe Parent is the one who should be sent packing.”
When Annie gets the nerve one day and says that Edgar is the one who should be sent packing, then we will know that she has arrived.
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