City Starting Chain Gangs
By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – Whenever things start turning up relentlessly in the Windsor Star you can be sure it is all about the paper paving the way for a new city hall initiative and that initiative will soon have citizens out cutting the city’s grass and “beautifying” the rose city. But, make no mistake all of this talk of volunteers clamouring to pull up their socks and pitch in is just another hidden tax opportunity like the sneaky recent 14% tax increase. The inwards on city council pulled a nice vulpine manoeuvre by increasing water rates and sewage surcharges to pull about another $100 dollars out of every homeowner’s wallet, the equivalent of a nice 14% tax grab.
The grab will make the city less competitive for economic development given that potential investors look at all aspects of taxation not just the posted mill rate. This of course is not of much or even passing interest to the council inwards given they are doing nothing on the jobs front even though the city has lost 2506 jobs since February alone.
Taxpayer work crews are a typical political ploy often used to win approval for tax increases. The scam is simple enough. The city will claim that it can no longer afford to cut the grass on city property and taxpayers will have the choice of either doing it themselves or paying more in taxes. As residents become more than disgusted at how bad their city starts to look they will gladly support a small tax increase, say 15 to
20 percent, to have the city do the work it was supposed to do all along. It works just about every time.
Of course, Windsor’s money problems are quite simple. It spends way beyond its means for white elephants rather than using the taxes it collects to pay for road repair and grass cutting. So the taxpayers have to make up the difference, a nice double taxation scheme.
The pawn in all of this is the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) who may, eventually, find themselves with fewer employees as work crews of senior citizens start doing their work. Already the city has issued work orders to some senior home owners on Cabana and told them in no uncertain terms to get off their butts and clean up city property.
After some protested the mayor, an Edgar Francis, momentarily backed down and claimed that it was a problem with his calculator, possibly a solar powered one. He told the Windsor Star June 22, 2012 that “When I saw the story in the paper today, I thought, something doesn’t add up here.”
Of course it didn’t, wink wink nod nod. What the mayor was really saying is that he was willing to retreat and will now spend his time making the city think that people are lining up to join his new work parties. He will probably even explain that the reason that members of the parties will have to be chained together and wear grey stripped outfits is because of insurance liabilities. That could work, it seems to make sense.
To get the project going the Windsor Star had to search the city and find someone, in this case a Pat Parent, who could be the poster girl for the project. She claims, in a Star report August 4, 2012, that there just happens to be “many people like her who’d eagerly join a volunteer brigade to pull weeds, plant flowers around light poles and water parched young trees on city land.”
If that was really the case then the city would never have had to hire a professional staff to do such work in the first place. For the benefit of the inwards on council, the reason there are governments is for them to take on that kind of public work, so that ratepayers can go do other work and pay taxes in return for a well run city. It is a pretty simple concept although few, if any, have ever accused Windsor of being a well-run city.
Watch for Parent to turn up on TVCogeco’s Face-to-Face program to extol the virtues of regular folk doing city work.
All of this will be to pull the wool over CUPE’s eyes and before the union notices what is going on its members will be getting notices that their services are no longer needed or even required.
Inward councilor Percy Hatfield told the Star in the same article that he thinks the work crews “would be another bragging right for the City of Windsor, that our neighbourhoods are looking great because of volunteers.”
The Star did not get his opinion on the real issues, like having chain gangs of senior citizens in their golden years chained together and being out in the hot sun all day. Who’d want bragging rights for that? Nor did he even hint that he would do something about the water situation. You can bet that the chain gang members will be treated the same as people who visit city parks. The visitors get no water so why should the gangs?
Of course the big unanswered question is when is CUPE going to wake up and smell the coffee. Oh, no, wait, how could it?
If the city won’t give the chain gangs water it is not about to give them coffee.
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