City Massaging No Money Excuse
By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – There must have been a few high level meetings to sort out the spending crisis by operatives at Windsor city hall. The result is clear, the meetings were to put a better spin on all the excuses the city is making as to why it can’t do things. The excuse is that the city has no money. That is odd because up to six times a year residential taxpayers ante up and give the city their life’s savings or whatever else they have in saved in their cookie jars so the bailiffs doesn’t come and take over their homes.
For a while the inwards on council have simply been complaining that their unlimited budgets have reached some sort of limit. This became evident when a soon-to-be retired city bureaucrat by the name of Ronna Warsh claimed the city has no cash to fix up its former College Community Centre. The place was supposed to be taken over by the Windsor Essex Community Health Centre but the health people have balked at an apparent million dollar renovation estimate to turn the place into a medical facility.
Given this, the health people bolted and thus ended the plan by the city to repurpose its College Ave facility and for Warsh to make, get ready to laugh, or cry, your choice, this statement to the Windsor Star on July 25, 2012: “We don’t have an extra $1 million we can put into that community health centre, when we have roads and sewers and all those draws on a capital budget.”
Co-incidentally, councilor Ron Jones has been heard running around to media outlets claiming that the end of this deal made him as “mad as mad can be,” which, as most know was good acting on his part. Jones did nothing when the city announced its plans to close the centre. It was, of course, one of the polling locations where the city’s mayor, an Edgar Francis, went down to defeat in the last municipal election. Actually he came up short in the whole ward. Because of this, no one has been surprised that amenities there, as an apparent punishment to voters, have to be pulled from neighbourhoods, including five parks.
Why was the inward council’s rebel not “mad as mad can be” when the community centre was closed or when the announcement came that the parks will be closed? No visible madness on his part at those developments.
One can only guess that the reason is, and this is an allegation, that Jones is good at crying crocodile tears. As most know Jones has all but given up on most of his ward. For years he crusaded around town boasting that he was going to return Old Sandwich to its past glory. He didn’t.
Then mysteriously he switched his allegiance to a small strip of West Wyandotte where he plans to install some new lighting and you can bet the cucumbers growing in your backyard garden that he will claim it to be a bigger deal than fixing up old Sandwich.
Warsh had a really nice scheme, or so the story goes. The Star reported that the so-called deal “would have allowed many of the programs once offered by the city to be continued.”
Of course they would be continued with someone else picking up the tab until, as Warsh claims, the health people “basically walked.”
Some wonder about the optics of all this. It does not look good. Here is the city getting someone else to do its community work, outsourced in a way, and why not, rumours have it that the inward council will be outsourced next and that would be good.
However, the city obviously wanted this done at no cost to itself given all of its money is needed for roads and sewers, as the new spin tells us, wink wink nod nod.
There are two problems with this. Anyone with common sense would do a little math, maybe using a solar-powered calculator, and determine the cost to the city of maintaining the community centre over twenty years versus having someone else operate it. The health people were said to be willing to take on a 20 year lease. Would the city find itself with a better deal even with a one million dollar upfront expenditure if someone else ran the place? Would the city save millions over that time? No one knows because Warsh did not indicate she did the math.
The other reality in this and Warsh with her new spin is not fooling anyone.
The city has no money not because it wants to spend it on roads and sewers, which it doesn’t, but because it is burning through over $100 million so far and counting on such unneeded expenditures as an empty airport repair hangar, an outside sign for the new home of the Windsor Star, hosting a multi-million dollar non-event and building a swimming pool for elites. Only elites seem to count in this city and because of this the comment by Warsh is scandalous.
It is also indicative of a trend. Henceforth whenever anyone at the city says the city has no money the reason, the approved reason, will be that the money it has is needed for roads and sewers. Take that with a ten ton truck filled with grains of salt given that it will be done to pull the wool over taxpayer’s eyes in a dumb attempt to deflect the real reason the city has no money.
Those bureaucrats, they all must have doctorates in spin. Nicely done Warsh.
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