Mayor To Call

By Robert Tuomi

(WINDSOR, ON) – As hard as this is to believe, the mayor of Windsor will, it has been reported variously by various people, fly off to exotic locales in the search for jobs and do this on a moment’s notice but when it comes to saving 2,000 jobs, apparently all he can do is promise to make a phone call.

After a number of speakers from a few delegations scared the pants off of Windsor’s duly elected council at its meeting of April 16, 2012 about the jobs devastation that could come if the slots are pulled from the Windsor horse racing track the council of inward and selfish males and one female decided to voice its support for the industry.

Ever since the meeting the media in the city have been abuzz with the exciting, to them, news that the mayor himself, an Edgar Francis, planned to make a phone call to the Lottery people on the Thursday following.

A phone call! Only a phone call?

Here is a mayor who says he has an almost bare cupboard of economic development opportunities, a mere five files including one that might be nuclear related given it involves pharmaceutical isotopes. To his credit, though, he does claim that they are 80% complete but refuses to explain what this means and so far even though these files have reached such an impressive threshold they have yet to produce any jobs, save a few.

Now, faced with the potential estimated loss of 2,000 jobs in the region’s horse racing industry the mayor is willing to make a phone call. How generous is that?

Although one must wonder what the rationale is behind this move. Is it that this act of the mayor is to save jobs not get them? Is it that saving jobs is considerably different than having to get on a plane to try and find jobs and can be done with nothing more time consuming than a phone call?

Mind you with 26,000 jobs lost in the region and the mayor showing that the best he can do is bring a handful of potential jobs here from a lean manufacturing coaching company from Coventry, England, losing another 2,000 jobs is just another drop in the bucket.

Heck, the mayor says this Coventry company might create 20 jobs in three years. That is less than half the jobs losses re-announced on CKLW news April 18, 2012 that the broadcast journalist doing the newscast claimed will result from the closing of a restaurant at the University of Windsor. That will be 40 to 48 jobs.

With the loss of 2,000 potential racing industry jobs and the 48 at the U, the mayor may be holding up his hands and saying “where can I go next?” That is, of course, once he makes his phone call.

He certainly is not showing much leadership these days if one considers that he is allowing councilor Drew Dilkens to continue as head of the city’s economic development committee. Dilkens seems to be a hero to the fans of inaction and mostly cancels his group’s meetings or when he has one finds there is nothing on the agenda and cancels it on the spot, no questions asked but possibly a chant, “Hey hey, ho ho, this meeting’s got to go.”

By letting that continue the mayor is certainly demonstrating that he does not hold the kind of leadership that Windsor needs, and is due, in a jobs crisis. Clearly the mayor has no strategy.

Consider what might have happened had the mayor not risked millions of dollars building his white elephant WFCU arena and worked co-operatively with the private investors behind the Ice Track proposal who would use their money and not the city’s to build a world class arena in the county that would have included a race track and other amenities.

It could have been of such a stature that even Koreans would flock here to see it. We will never know. But, that facility might have attracted a different crowd and would not be seen as competition to the casino in Windsor and by doing so have put Windsor squarely on the map and eliminated the need to close the Raceway.

Imagine what the city could have done if all the money it spent on the WFCU centre could have been used on fixing its pothole littered streets. A lot of people joke about the potholes in Windsor but they have become no laughing matter, in fact they are beyond funny. Not only could the money lavished on the arena have been put to good use fixing the community’s infrastructure it would also have eliminated the continuing risk Windsor faces given it has to take care of the arena’s operating losses and the region would have gained property tax revenue from the building. It would have been a good deal.

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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.