Is Windsor Done

Be honest with me, dear reader. Seriously, haven’t you considered packing up and moving out of this City! The shenanigans going on here are almost too much to endure any longer. It is one thing after another after another. Unfortunately, what is being achieved other than building a giant, City–wide zoo for white elephants that will have to be supported by taxpayers for years to come.

I can hardly wait until I am slammed by the Edgar (aka Eddie) sycophants. I welcome it this time. There is nothing that I personally, nor my Windsor Square colleagues collectively, nor the conspiracy theorists, nor the nattering nabobs of negativity nor the people smeared by the Star Columnists could ever do to paint such a black picture of this City as our Municipal Leaders.

They have embarrassed Windsor in the past. They are embarrassing Windsor now. And if they continue on like this, they will embarrass Windsor in the future. The trouble is that we are stuck with them for another couple of years until the next municipal election and I just don’t see them changing one little bit.

Do you remember what we were saying when Edgar first ran for Mayor? We needed change desperately because at the time the mood was that no one would invest in Windsor unless there was a turnover at City Hall. Is it any different now, or rather, how much worse is it now than then!

The Bigshot Dwight-Lite affair is just another one of these embarrassments. In the scheme of things, it really is a nothing. It should never have gone on this long. Yet, it has resonated so much with Windsorites. We are so angry because of it. We are all so upset at the lack of action in this City and where this City is heading. Unfortunately for him, Dwight-Lite was there for us to take out our complete frustration with our Leaders on him.

Of course he did it to himself. Had he come clean right away and agreed to pay everything back rather than cover up, he would have had received no more than a slap on the wrist. The sycophants would have justified everything, in fact made him our hero. They’re good at that. But no, he had to cover-up. He had to lie to us.

He had to demonstrate his complete incompetence as one of the people who is running a City with billions of dollars in assets and with a budget of hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Our Mayor and Councillors… Where was their leadership?

They are so good at their quotes for the media. Mind you, they had to Flip-flop right away after they completely misunderstood the mood of Windsorites initially.

But when push came to shove, when they had the opportunity twice at Council to condemn the actions of Councillor Maghnieh, to express our discontent as our Leaders at what he did, to demand that he resign even though statutorily there was no way that they could make him do so, they were silent. As usual. They had to protect themselves, their own careers, not our interests.

The media. Who is next to admit that he/she was the beneficiary of the Bigshot Dwight-Lite library credit card? As I said before, it is no big deal to me if something other than a Library credit card had been used to pay for drinks and dinner i.e. if Al had paid for all this himself personally at the time using his own cash or credit card (Yes, yes, I know he lost his). However, if they breached their employer’s Code of Conduct as the CBC employees apparently did, then that is news.

Moreover, a Star reporter and columnist have seen fit to disclose what their position is. Why all of a sudden and why now? Something very strange is going on and I don’t know what it is.

Then again, haven’t we been critical of the Media in this City for such a very long time. Can we not put the blame on them, as we should be doing, for being so uncritical when looking at the actions of our Leaders and acting more as cheerleaders and as Messenger than members of the Fourth Estate.

I can just picture news clippings scrapbooks of the Economic Development Departments of competitive areas to ours. When a potential investor comes to visit them and happens to mention that they are considering Windsor as well as the place to locate, all that will have to happen is for their development officers to point to our scandals:

 • the WUC investigation by the Province and the whitewash audit
• the 400 building audit
• the Arena “review” which was not an audit
• the 101 day City labour dispute
• the Middleton Lawsuit
• the Mike Dunbar draft audit fiasco
• the Angela Berry allegation of a “toxic work environment”
• the Todd Langlois termination
• the over 750 signature petition over Enwin/WUC
• the number of jobs being lost and not being replaced
• the Library

Tell me, when was the last time that you saw a City Police Association bring an action to remove the Mayor as the head of the Police Services Board! We all know that the most that the Mayor will receive is a slap on the wrist if anything but the fact that the Police Association had the nerve to bring such an application in the first place speaks volumes to me. They are no longer afraid of Edgar and are prepared to stand up to him whether it is in an arbitration or in the media if he dares slam them inappropriately.

Please tell me which investor in his/her right mind would want to come here when there are so many properly managed cities to go to in this Region. Who needs the aggravation, the high taxes and the high utility rates to come to Windsor.

I am sure, dear reader, that you have noticed that I don’t really grade the City Councillors anymore as I have in the past. I really don’t write about them very much either. Of course, I am accused of attacking the Mayor just to do so and focusing too much attention on him.

Can you really blame me? He is after all the Head of Council and is the one who is supposed to be the Principal Leader of our City. However, the reason I write about him so much is that the Councillors are irrelevant as far as I am concerned. They appear to be nothing more than rubber stampers who fall in line whenever the Mayor brings out one of his mind’s eye visions in the last minute. They have no personalities that to me are distinguishable. They are all one big blob, one big blur. That is why I do not bother watching Council live anymore. It is a waste of time. I can fast forward a Council session on my VCR and save hours.

I pity the Councillors. I really do. They try but they are out of their league. The demands placed upon Municipal Councillors are so much different now. For most of them, their skill sets are not ones that they can bring to complicated matters such as financial transactions as an example. It is not going to get any easier either.

Unfortunately, they have done nothing that I can see to help themselves out. They are afraid to ask for resources to assist them but rely instead upon the Mayor and the Administration. They have done it to themselves.

Let me come back to where I started: investing in Windsor. With whom does one deal if one has an interest? Does one call up the Undevelopment Commission? I don’t know why anyone would bother because all they are good for it seems to me is writing up reports. Interesting don’t you think that after one of my Colleagues wrote a scathing article about their report on the Wine Industry, the Star had to do one.

How many jobs have been created as set out in their recent Report? How many jobs have been lost in this area since February alone?

It seems that we have no need for them so why would an investor? Why bother going to an Undevelopment Commission when all that one has to do is go to the Mayor of Windsor. Forget about the County. He decides what gets done and what does not get done. And he can do it single-handedly it seems.

Investors, if they do the slightest bit of due diligence, have to be concerned that what happened to the to Canadian LED companies could happen to them notwithstanding the welcome from our Mayor. Just ask the competitors of BYD how they feel.

In fact, we ought to be asking what the BYD deal really is if they need seven people here. Is it in fact a multiyear agreement to supply and maintain their equipment for street lighting? Forget about the need for tender. It is a Fortress Enwin deal and after all they are a private company and need not tell us anything.

We don’t want Windsor to become a target for snake oil salesmen. We should not be encouraging them to be coming here. We don’t want people coming here with their glossy brochures telling us to invest in their industry. Who needs more promises that we will be world-class and have a gagillion jobs for those of us who are considering moving out of here so they can feed their families and keep their homes from foreclosure. Who needs more Trouble in River City, with a capital “T.”

Onion exporting, cargo shanties, multi-modal hubs, canals, cultural hubs, flights out West. Where is the discipline needed to ensure that these projects make sense before we invest our money? Where are the business plans, the economic justification, the return on investment calculations when taxpayer monies are going to be used?

Now we are into picking winners and losers in an industry. No disrespect to the BYD bus company but how do we know that they are the right choice? How were they chosen in the first place? What were the criteria used?

There are a number of Chinese bus manufacturers and battery makers if we are only looking to that country. Why are they the one or was it done merely because Warren Buffett made an investment in BYD and he is always right about everything. Oh well, about most things anyway except for the losses that he has made too over the years.

Seriously, why did we choose a Chinese company and not a company like Flyer whose headquarters are in Canada with whom to partner? They have an all electric bus project. They have ready-made customers too. Their press materials say that Flyer “supplies buses to most of the top 25 bus fleets in North America.”

I would really like to see the signed contract between Windsor and BYD that Edgar signed. I would really like to know what all of the terms and conditions are. I must admit that it seems to me that we are doing BYD a favour by being their guinea pig in a cold, snowy climate and yet, we have to pay them $1 million to do so by buying  2  buses. That’s a real surprise to me.

The shortness of an exclusivity period is also rather a bit of a shock. Just at about the time when all of the experimentation results are in, our exclusivity period ends so that BYD can go to Québec to have buses built there. Wouldn’t that be a hoot, payback for the MRO.

Just wondering, who would build the plant here? The City again?

You see, dear reader, Windsor does not seem to have been very successful in our big negotiations. MFP and Canderel come rolling off of the tongue. In fact, we are so insecure about our tendering process that we have to retain outside lawyers all the time. From Toronto too because obviously the City does not believe that Windsor lawyers can do the work. So much for putting faith in one’s People.

Writing for the Windsor Square makes it all worse. I live it all the time. I see these things first-hand everyday and have to research them because I have to write about them.

I am past the stage now of being angry. I just shake my head, out of sorrow and disgust more than anything else.

We go from crisis to crisis without any leadership. Strategic plans, where are they? It seems to me that we make it up as we go along, hoping for the best, no matter what it costs. There is always the hope that one of these minds eye visions might actually work out.  That seems to me to be the mantra.

Thanks to our Leaders and to some in the media, this City is more divided than it has been in years. How many more months of union bashing against CUPE and the police and firefighters will we have to endure? You know that we are going to have another strike early in the year after the CUPE agreement ends; the question will be how long will it last this time around.

Fate is inexplicable. Here is what is so very strange to me, perhaps our only real hope. The Langlois/Maghnieh scandals may actually bring us all together. They may force us to take a look at what our Leaders are doing, and more importantly, not doing. Petitions against Enwin/WUC, some are talking about doing one in Ward 10. Fantastic! Let us get the People finally involved.

Yes I really do have hope for Windsor. We are not done yet. It has just taken us time to discover what is really going on in this City after all of the misinformation that we have been fed for so very long. At the least, we have finally uncovered it and now can decide what to do about it.

There is one thing though that is lacking. We need a Champion, someone around whom we can rally. Someone who can give us a vision of ourselves that matches our own reality and can give us a reasonable expectation of what our future can be.  The tragedy for me personally is that so many years ago, I  thought that person was Edgar.

We don’t need to be told anymore that we need to be “world-class.” I am so sick of that. We are Windsor. That is who we are and we should be proud of it.

I don’t mean that our Champion necessarily should be someone political either. We need someone who will stand up for Windsor and say that enough is enough and we are not going to take it anymore. From anyone.

Who that person is… I don’t have the answer for that. Yet. Put on your thinking cap, dear reader. Perhaps you already know who that person is.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata

Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between.

His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States.

Contact Ian with story ideas.

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