Confederacy of FBI dunces masterminded failed Michigan governor kidnap plot
WindsorOntarioNews.com May 4 2022
How did the recent high profile criminal case against plotters allegedly planning to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer fall apart? According to James Bovard in the New York Post, FBI informants infiltrated the Wolverine Watchmen, a vociferous anti-Whitmer social media group who decried the governor for massive lockdowns during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the informants was Stephen Robeson, who had “a list of felonies and other crimes.” He “organized key events to build the movement.” Don Chapel, another informer, was paid $54,000, and became second in command. He “masterminded the military training for the group, even as he helped the feds wiretap their messages.” Bovard wrote that ironically several militia members had “explicitly opposed kidnapping the governor.” That didn’t stop Robeson and Chapel who “helped hatch a ludicrous plot to snatch Whitmer from her vacation home and take her away for trial.” The FBI operatives then took members of the Watchmen “who prattled idiotically about stealing a Blackhawk helicopter, for drives near Whitmer’s vacation home, which supposedly proved they were going to nab the governor and unleash havoc.” But, says the writer, “it was all a set up.” Texted an FBI agent to Chapel: “Mission is to kill the governor specifically.” Says Bovard, there were “as many FBI informants and undercover agents as there were purported plotters in this case.” The scheme began unravelling even before the kidnapping trial began. Robert Trask, the lead FBI agent and “the public face” of the kidnapping case, was fired after he was arrested for “beating his wife during an argument over an orgy that the two had attended at a hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich.,” The New York Times reported. Two other key FBI agents were sidelined from the case for misconduct (including creating a side hustle with his own cybersecurity firm).” All of which begs the question: isn’t what the FBI did the most blatant form of entrapment? Writes Bovard, a 1973 Supreme Court ruling “gutted most defenses against government entrapment by focusing almost solely on the ‘subjective disposition’ of the entrapped person.” In other words, if prosecutors “find any inkling of a defendant’s disposition to the crime, then the person is guilty, no matter how outrageous or abusive the government agents’ behavior.”
Your pick-up truck could soon be whacked with additional green tax
WindsorOntarioNews.com April 22 2022
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is warning the Trudeau government wants to levy an additional “green” tax on average pick-up trucks. The four top-selling vehicles in Canada in first quarter 2022 were pick-ups, led by Ford F-Series, Ram P/U, GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado. The feds’ tax would add $1000 on a Ford F-150 and as much as $4000 on a Ram 3500 heavy-duty. The CTF says the recommendation to “whack trucks” is contained deep in a new 271-page environment ministry report, 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, posted on the federal website March 31. The report recommends broadening an existing “Green Levy (Excise Tax) for Fuel Inefficient Vehicles to include additional ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] vehicle types, such as pickup trucks.” The current tax affects larger SUVs that use more than 13 litres of fuel per 100 kms. such as the GMC Yukon Denali and Lincoln Navigator. CTF author Kris Sims says, “For many Canadians, trucks are as important to their work and daily life as a laptop and Zoom account is for those of us in offices.” She asks should the government invoke the tax “what’s stopping” it from eventually taxing smaller SUVs like the popular Chevy Blazers and Ford Explorers. The report suggests as much: “A sliding scale for the implementation of this Green Levy should be developed based on the emissions produced from different vehicles.” Federal environment minister Steven Guilbeault vociferously denied the government is bringing in the tax. On Twitter he called the article and subsequent political criticism “disinformation” and “fear mongering” saying this was only a recommendation from an independent advisory body “in the annex of a report.” The CTF’s Sims called Guilbeault's response “weird” since it is “right in their report.” She adds this proves Ottawa is "darn well thinking” about the tax and a watchdog agency like hers should alert the public before it becomes law.
Huron Church - a crisis in policing
WindsorOntarioNews.com February 17 2022
There were a number of very puzzling aspects of the police response to the tracker blockade in Windsor. The blockade was allowed to persist almost seven full days. Why? Huron Church Road is the most significant trade connection in Canada and there was no reason police should have allowed it to be blocked as long as they did. It makes a mockery of policing, as the truck protests have done elsewhere in Canada. But this is not new. The police for some time have been loath to arrest protesters and break up blockades by Indigenous people and supporters - witness pipeline and railway blockades two years ago, and Caledonia, which went on for years. This is not a crisis of politics or leadership, it’s a crisis of policing. There must be an investigation as to why the police act or do not act.
Second, in the standoff along Huron Church Road, why were some police armed with machine guns? Why were there two armoured carriers? The protesters, while disruptive, were highly peaceful and friendly. If this was meant to intimidate it didn't work.
Third, police tactics over last Saturday and Sunday after a court injunction Friday. It was puzzling indeed to watch a kind of Mexican standoff between police and demonstrators Saturday morning into afternoon. The police would advance several meters and then stop. This effectively pushed back the protesters. They did this several times. The police were making inroads and had matters well enough in hand. Then they abruptly stopped. Until Sunday morning when they started to mean business and arrests ultimately ensued. Why did the police halt Saturday? What happened between Saturday and Sunday to get police to finally act Sunday when they didn’t Saturday? Were there high level calls from the province or federal government to force them to decisively act?
In the aftermath of the week-long protest and removal of demonstrators and vehicles - and Huron Church open to trucks again - Huron Church Road has become effectively militarized. Street access has been blocked from the bridge up to E.C. Row Expressway, dealing a major blow to west end residents and numerous businesses in several shopping plazas north of EC Row. Never before has this happened, not even in the aftermath of 9/11 when the border was temporarily closed and trucks backed up for kilometres along Huron Church and Hwy. 401. The only noticeable difference that time was police monitoring of the Ambassador Bridge. Windsor Police have explained streets need to be blocked to prevent possible access by more protesters. But protesters can access Huron Church, and even the 401, at any point.
Windsor has never seen anything like this.
City and residents have different views on Matchette Road's future
WindsorOntarioNews.com February 4 2022
The City of Windsor wants to “calm” traffic on busy Matchette Road and this week held a public information session to gather comments on the proposal. But the handful of people who were on the Zoom meeting or wrote-in weren’t particularly in favor of the direction the city is heading. They wanted more protection for wildlife than humans, particularly given the low human accident count. City traffic engineer Jeff Hagan said just under 9000 vehicles a day (6000 is optimum) use the “collector” commuting route through west Windsor to LaSalle, bisecting two natural areas containing species at risk. He said there’s a “high degree of speeding” with 85 per cent of traffic going 69 km/hr. in a 50 km/hr. zone. Over the past five years there have been six non-lethal accidents, mostly “angled” collisions at Matchette and Sprucewood. Hagan proposed peripheral transverse bars (photo) and radar speed signs. The bars are painted. “It’s an optical effect that has a psychological effect on drivers,” he said. “It gives them a heightened sense of speed.” The bars have reduced speed as much as 50 percent for those doing 25 km/hr. over limit. Some questioners wanted to know why more barriers, like speed bumps, aren’t suggested. Hagan said this is a “rural cross section” road, a collector and transit route, with a relatively high posted speed and gravel shoulders. That could cause accidents by “launching” vehicles hitting the bumps. But most of those raising questions were upset that wildlife issues weren’t being looked at. One called the proposals “comical and disappointing” given the relatively few human accidents and larger number of wildlife or endangered species killed crossing the roadway. Hagan said a “parallel study” is examining eco crossings. Another person wanted to know why the city doesn’t close the road. Hagan said city council rejected that idea a couple of years ago. A former city planner suggested the city could make the route “less attractive” and divert vehicles to nearby Ojibway Pkwy. Hagan said Ojibway already has a high volume. Written submissions will be taken until March 1, followed by a vote through 311 on an updated proposal by area residents before a plan is finalized.
Local health leadership top salaries
WindsorOntarioNews.com January 12 2022
During the ongoing pandemic politicians have deferred almost exclusively to the decisions of the public health sector. For information purposes, here is a list of salaries and taxable benefits paid to the leadership teams of the five public organizations which oversee health care in Windsor-Essex. This is based on the 2020 Ontario government’s public sector salary disclosure information (aka the “Sunshine List”) for those earning $100,000, as required under the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act.
WINDSOR REGIONAL HOSPITAL
DAVID MUSYJ - President & Chief Executive Officer: $447,732.83, $14,547.92
KAREN RIDDELL - Chief Operating Officer, Chief Nursing Executive, Vice President Critical Care & Cardiology": $228,802.50
DR. WASSIM SAAD - Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief of Staff: $314,153.33 $2,541.72
MARK FATHERS - Vice President, Corporate Services and CFO: $240,834.18
MARK FERRARI - Executive Director of the Windsor Family Health Team: $164,642.46 $1,374.68
JONATHAN FOSTER - Vice President of Emergency Services and Mental Health: $220,982.17 $1,813.84
THERESA MORRIS - Vice President of Medicine and Corporate Patient Flow: $220,982.16 $1,813.84
ROSEMARY PETRAKOS - Vice President, Peri-Operative, Surgery, Women's and Children's: $221,353.78 $1,656.25
HOTEL-DIEU GRACE HEALTHCARE
Bill (Biagio) Marra - President and CEO: $175,544.72 $1,389.54
Janice Kaffer, Advisor to the CEO and Board: $313,025.35 $11,451.00
Sherri Laframboise, Chief Financial Officer: $132,596.90 $1,199.33
Dr. Andrea Steen, Vice President Medical Affairs, Quality & Performance, Chief of Staff: (not listed)
Sonja Grbevski, Vice President Clinical Services - Mental Health and Addictions, Executive Lead - Addictions & Collaborative Programs (CMHA): $180,985.19 $1,432.05
Janice Dawson, Vice President Clinical Services - Restorative Care & Chief Nursing Executive: $275,706.21 $931.91
Claudia den Boer, Executive Lead for Community Mental Health: (not listed)
Terra Cadeau, Executive Lead for Lead Agency Child & Youth Mental Health, Strategy and Partnerships: $151,384.03 $1,381.47
WINDSOR-ESSEX COUNTY HEALTH UNIT
Nicole Dupuis, Chief Executive Officer: $161,953.77 $1,014.40
Theresa Marentette (former CEO): $238,596.88 $1,319.54
Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Acting Medical Officer of Health: (not listed)
Wajid Ahmed (former Med Officer of Health): $351,767.63 $1,839.64
Lee Anne Damphouse, Executive Assistant to the CEO, MOH, and the Board of Health: (not listed)
Kristy McBeth, Director of Health Protection: $169,479.18 $1,066.27
Dan Sibley, Director of Human Resources: $160,696.73 $990.75
Elspeth Troy, Executive Assistant to the Director of Health Protection and Director of Human Resources: (not listed)
Lorie Gregg, Director of Corporate Services: $165,747.30 $1,036.63
Janette Forsyth, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Corporate Services: (not listed)
Felicia Lawal, Chief Nursing Officer and Director, Health Protection: $126,178.31 $674.37
Eric Nadalin, Director of Health Promotion: $127,676.53 $650.85
Emily Briscoe, Executive Assistant to Director of Health Protection and Director of Health Promotion: (not listed)
ONTARIO HEALTH WEST (FORMERLY ERIE ST. CLAIR LOCAL HEALTH INTEGRATION NETWORK)
DONNA CRIPPS, Interim CEO, Home and Community Care Support Services: (a Donna Cripps is listed under Crown Agencies, which include LHINs) $300,051.32 $1,897.44
CATHY KELLY, VP, Home and Community Care: (not listed)
ERIE SHORES HEALTHCARE
Kristin Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer:$163,078.62 $865.59
Dr. Ross Moncur, Chief of Professional Staff: $213,998.46 $814.28
Nolan Goyette, VP, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer: $116,825.79 $442.47
Heather Badder, VP, Patient Services: $116,907.53 $649.85
Misty Fortier, Director, Interprofessional Practice and Chief Nursing Executive: (not listed)
Salvation Army won’t comment on controversial anti-racism resource
WindsorOntarioNews.com December 17 2021
Next week is Salvation Army Week and the City of Windsor will raise the Salvation Army flag at city hall. But the Salvation Army in Canada did not respond to requests for comment as to whether it endorses a controversial online anti-racism resource its US counterpart published and withdrew last month due to overwhelming controversy. The charitable group published Let’s Talk About…Racism and reportedly called on white supporters to apologize to black people for racism. According to The Daily Wire, the guide called on Salvationists to “achieve the following” including to “lament, repent and apologize for biases or racist ideologies held and actions committed.” (WON.com could not find an unlocked version of the resource online but did find the accompanying study guide). According to the Wire, “The resource claims Christianity is inherently racist and calls for white Christians to repent and offer ‘a sincere apology’ to blacks for being ‘antagonistic … to black people or the culture, values and interests of the black community.’” As well, the resource says, “Many have come to believe that we live in a post-racial society, but racism is very real for our brothers and sisters who are refused jobs and housing, denied basic rights and brutalized and oppressed simply because of the color of their skin.” And, “There is an urgent need for Christians to evaluate racist attitudes and practices in light of our faith, and to live faithfully in today’s world.” Further, “as we engage in conversations about race and racism, we must keep in mind that sincere repentance and apologies are necessary if we want to move towards racial reconciliation. We recognize that it is a profound challenge to sit on the hot seat and listen with an open heart to the hurt and anger of the wounded. Yet, we are all hardwired to desire justice and fairness, so the need to receive a sincere apology is necessary.” After the uproar, the Army published a lengthy response, including, “although we remain committed to serving everyone in need—regardless of their beliefs, backgrounds, or lifestyle—some individuals and groups have recently attempted to mislabel our organization to serve their own agendas. They have claimed that we believe our donors should apologize for their skin color, that The Salvation Army believes America is an inherently racist society, and that we have abandoned our Christian faith for one ideology or another. Those claims are simply false, and they distort the very goal of our work.”
It's true: scantily-clad bar-hopping women feel little chill in winter
WindsorOntarioNews.com Nov. 9 2021
Once upon a time, when Windsor was a magnet for young Americans who flocked to our bars because Ontario’s drinking age was lower than Michigan’s, we remember how, especially women, would hop from club to club in skimpy clothes – and in the middle of winter! Now there’s research to prove that those bar patrons weren’t so foolish after all. In fact the British Journal of Social Psychology gives reasons as to why scantily clad women are less prone to getting chilled than their more covered counterparts. The study’s title says it all: When Looking ‘Hot’ Means Not Feeling Cold: Evidence That Self-Objectification Inhibits Feelings of Being Cold. Co-author Roxanne Felig said the research was partially inspired by singer Cardi B’s lyric, “it’s cold outside but I’m still looking like a thottie — because a hoe never gets cold.” Felig suggested Cardi was saying she’s “too focused on how she looked and what she was wearing to feel cold.” In fact, researchers found the rapper’s intuition correct. Their focus, after all, was on “self-objectivation.” So, as women stood outside clubs when temperatures dipped below the 40s researchers asked them how cold they felt. Clad only in crop tops and miniskirts, the bar-hoppers felt no colder than women wearing coats and pants. Felig told the New York Post: “Women who are highly focused on their appearance … have a diminished capacity to feel cold, regardless of how much of their body is exposed to the cold weather.” In other words, “when women are highly focused on how they appear externally — it reduces the amount of cognitive resources they have available to appraise their internal states.” Oh, one other thing. Felig didn’t like Cardi describing women as “hoes” and that a women’s clothing choices aren’t necessarily connected to her sexual proclivities.
Cabinet's very ironic appointment
WindsorOntarioNews.com October 12 2021
Is there any appointee more ironic than the Ontario government minister who most symbolized the rule-for-thee-but-not-for-me approach to governing during the Covid-19 pandemic than Rod Phillips? After a several months slap on the wrist by Premier Doug Ford, Phillips in June was appointed Minister of Long Term Care, the sector most devastated by the same pandemic? Phillips, who otherwise was a credible government minister and finance minister at the time, made the wrong – and very hypocritical – decision to fly off to St. Barts, playground of the rich and famous, just after Christmas last year. That’s when his government repeatedly told citizens to definitely not travel because of health concerns. To add insult to injury Phillips used a fake backdrop to pretend he was still in snowy Canada and not in the sunny south. Phillips resigned and was in the proverbial doghouse until June. Then, when Ford announced a cabinet shuffle, the delinquent Phillips had been forgiven and was once again reinstalled around the cabinet table. But, very ironically, he was put in charge of nursing homes, which saw the most people die during Covid-19, arguably in part because of the current government’s lack of action to protect them, as a provincial report last spring disclosed. To Phillips’s credit he launched his portfolio by apologizing for the almost 4,000 LTC deaths and that his and processor governments had “failed” residents. “I think that's a necessary step so that we can take the action we need to do now to move forward,” he said. Perhaps Phillips was redeemed by his public embarrassment and six-month expulsion from cabinet. But at least his stance was a far sight better than the previous minister in that position, Merillee Fullerton, who took no responsibility for the LTC misery. “We didn’t start the fire,” were perhaps her most (in)famous words, defiant despite torrents of criticism directed her way.
Photo: Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Permit parking fees may see rise
WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 23 2021
The City of Windsor may be increasing residential permit parking fees. The city’s transportation committee this week discussed a fee hike from $55 to $70 for two permits. Currently the first permit costs $35 and the second $20 with a maximum of two permits per household. The least expensive option to increase the fee was recommended. The highest would have seen the price rise from $35 to $52.50 for a total of $87.50 annually. By selecting the least expensive option the city would obtain an additional $915 per year based on current permit requests. Windsor’s fees are small compared to other cities. Burlington charges $30 per month or $350 per year, has a restriction of one permit and parking is not to exceed 48 hours in the same spot. Ottawa charges $130 per year per permit. Implemented in the early 1990s the city has 12 designated area for permit parking. But, says a report by parking enforcement supervisor Bill Kralovensky, “issues have arisen” such as availability of street parking, permit misuse and permit eligibility. “Policies and procedures have been amended from time to time, to mitigate these issues within the guidelines of the residential permit parking programs,” he says. The largest neighbourhood designated for permit parking is around the University of Windsor. “Many of the properties in this area have no onsite parking in either the frontage or the rear of the addresses,” the report says. Also, many of the residents are students who have financial constraints “and a drastic and sudden increase may be of a financial hardship to them.” Fees are used for maintenance and administrative costs, like issuing permits and installing signs.
Photo: Google Street View
Unvaxxed staff firings wouldn’t have “significant” impact on patient care
WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 9 2021
A spokesman for Windsor Regional Hospital says the hospital is confident that any employees terminated for not being vaccinated would “not be significant” and therefore firings would not negatively impact hospital patient care. Steve Erwin said WRH has also conducted a “risk assessment” to “minimize any possible impact” of terminations on patients. Erwin told WON.com earlier this week that “close to 100 per cent” of staff “will be vaccinated by the time of the effective date of the policy.” Last week there were reportedly some 300 staff still not vaccinated. Meanwhile, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare spokesman Bill Marra said the hospital is still “firming up details regarding timelines for the vaccination requirements along with contingency plans associated with the potential loss of employees.” He said there has in fact “been an uptake” in vaccine requests over the past couple of weeks. As for any termination of staff having a negative impact on patient care and treatment – and the well-reported shortage of health care workers in the province to replace them - Marra said the hospital will be “in a better position to provide details regarding the number of employees impacted by our policy requirement and our contingency plans to address any loss of employees over the next couple of weeks.” This week “just over 90 per cent” of staff have been vaccinated, he said. Last week 86 per cent had been vaxxed leaving 150 employees who had still not been vaccinated or had not disclosed their vaccine status. The hospitals still haven’t set individual termination dates for employees who refuse to get vaccinated, subject to medical exemptions and human rights law. But five southwestern Ontario hospitals Sept. 3 issued a joint letter mandating that unvaxxed employees would be terminated by a certain date set by each hospital. All employees, credentialled staff and volunteers not vaccinated will either go on “unpaid leave and/or termination for cause.”
.....[UPDATE: Sept. 10: WRH hospital has now set Sept. 22 as the deadline for workers to get their first shots, Oct. 7 for the second.]
Closed streets have repercussions
WindsorOntarioNews.com August 22 2021
If it can’t happen in a small community like Amherstburg is there hope for more pedestrian friendly urban streets in larger cities? Case in point: the burg’s experiment called Open Air Weekends, instituted last summer and again this year. Like many other towns and cities the idea was to allow the public to dine out in a safer atmosphere instead of inside restaurants due to Covid-19. In the burg, which has a very compact old downtown, four blocks were blocked off on Dalhousie, Richmond and Murray streets. Motor vehicles were not allowed into these areas but parked on the perimeter. The closures are Friday and Saturday mid-afternoons to late evenings. The atmosphere for many was tantalizing, providing a whole new experience for diners, Covid or no Covid. It might have been an argument for permanent street closures, especially as the streets were adjacent to the town’s picturesque river and Navy Yard Park. But a group of merchants saw otherwise. In an open letter they criticized the concept as hurting their businesses. “The idea is great, streets can be alive with people and boundless entertainment,” wrote Jen Deluca of Waterfront Ice Cream on behalf of the merchants. “But the reality is in downtown Amherstburg the logistics and mix of businesses can at times make this idea very difficult for us. For some businesses, they need more outdoor space, for others they need vehicular access to their shops.” The problem was lack of vehicular access. “For some businesses, they need more outdoor space, for others they need vehicular to their shops,” said Deluca. “You cannot achieve both in the current format of Open Air.” And the fact blocks are closed “forces patrons of many of our businesses to park unnecessarily far away in order to reach their desired shop.” Deluca also noted the seeming declining popularity of Open Air perhaps in part because indoor dining has reopened. In any case, the fact some businesses say they have suffered because of the closed streets may be a lesson to other municipalities, urban planners and so-called “urbanites,” who want downtowns to be more people places. Deluca’s argument suggests people won’t come if streets, ironically, are chocked off to cars.
Gallows humour "most egregious" of Bondy's harrassment - report
WindsorOntarioNews.com July 23 2021
Essex town councillor Sherry Bondy posted a controversial “gallows” cartoon on Twitter March 30, which has since been deleted. But it was attached to town Integrity Commissioner Robert Swayze’s report to council this month. The cartoon shows a hooded figure carrying a lightbulb to the gallows. Standing around are a mass of people with heads as candles. Tweets Bondy, “I am not sure who the original artist is of this illustration but it’s very impactful.” Swayze cited the cartoon as being the “most egregious” example of her breaking the town’s Code of Conduct by harassing ELK Energy – the town’s electrical power supplier – and municipal staff. As such he recommended she be docked 30 days pay and council agreed. She was also warned that if the harassment continues, she could receive a 90-day penalty. Swayze was investigating a complaint, launched by Mayor Larry Snively, that Bondy, who represents the Harrow area, “publicly and continuously” harassed staff “by posting negative comments about them on social media and recording a video in front of the company’s premises.” In public statements Bondy denied the cartoon was meant to harass staff and said it depicted her as victim. She also called her criticism of staff legitimate because of problems plaguing the town's power supply. Said Swayze, “she attempted to assert that the drawing was not intended to portray an ELK staff member which I found to be absurd, given her long history of criticizing ELK staff.” Swayze said Bondy had a “long history of aggressively criticizing the staff” back to when she was an ELK board member before 2019. She was advised by letter in November that year that she was in “breach of her legal duties and obligations.” In response, she resigned “and continued publicly harassing staff.” Other than the cartoon, the exact nature of the harassment, such as the language Bondy used, isn’t mentioned in the report. Swayze said her treatment of staff affected their “morale.” Also, “There appears to have been a reduction in the response to recruitment advertising as a result.” And public complaints to ELK have “substantially” increased since she “started stirring up the community.” Swayze affirmed Bondy’s right to criticize staff but in private such as at closed council meetings. Indeed, the Code specifically states council members treat staff “appropriately and without abuse, bullying or intimidation, and to ensure that the work environment is free from discrimination and harassment.” Swayze concluded Bondy’s behaviour was political. “I suspect that she believes her public diatribes against staff will get her votes.”
City Hall's financial strengths are also its weaknesses - analysis
WindsorOntarioNews.com July 8 2021
Jason Reynar, the City of Windsor’s new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), (photo) has told City Council that some of the city’s longstanding financial plusses are also its weaknesses. For example, a “disciplined financial culture, including strong internal controls, cost containment and budget monitoring” and the “pay as you go” financing model – which the city has used to build major facilities like the WFCU Centre – “helped create healthy base budget funding.” But Reynar noted that a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis found the “relentless focus on limiting spending” such as zero property tax increases, has caused “erosion of property tax base, as well as a somewhat monocular vision that may inadvertently or inappropriately disregard other relevant strategic factors in decision-making.” He suggests a “triple bottom line” approach including economic, environmental and social factors “to ensure that one lens does not dominate.” The report also noted that the city’s debt avoidance strategy along with “pay as you go” may “limit future consideration of creative financing options.” And the “heavy take-up” on the city’s much-lauded Community Improvement Plan (CIP) tax incentives for new developments, such as reinvestments in dormant office towers and depressed neighbourhoods, “erodes future general property tax revenue.” However, besides looking for more investment opportunities and better internal “performance metrics” one new source of revenue could be “modest, planned tax levy increases to allow for re-investment in services, programs and infrastructure.” Finally, it notes that future threats to city finances could be the impact of various lawsuits against the city. And that “insurance costs are increasing exponentially.”
Photo: City of Windsor
100 years later, iconic General Amherst HS name may be no more
WindsorOntarioNews.com June 24 2021
Amherstburg’s new high school is expected to open in fall 2022, exactly 100 years from when the town’s original high school, General Amherst, opened its doors in 1922. But the iconic name General Amherst may be no more once the school opens as not just General Amherst but the town’s other school, Western Secondary - located 15 km north of urban Amherstburg - consolidate into the new $24.3 million building in the urban town’s Centennial Park. Since February the Greater Essex County District School Board has held an online survey asking the public to choose a name for the school. The reason for seeking an entirely new name is simply because “it is not only a new building, but an entirely new school community” that will take up premises at the school, Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) spokesman Scott Scantlebury said. A school naming committee will make the final decision. Actually, the criteria for the naming process is elaborate and many layered. There are 15 committee members representing both schools. The process includes forums, focus groups, social media, a public meeting and two committee public meetings. At the first meeting the committee will choose between two and 10 names and those that “meet the threshold of the board naming criteria” will go to a community survey along with schools’ staff and student feedback. The second meeting will shortlist at least two names, presented at a general public board meeting, where the final decision will be made. Naming criteria includes geography, culture, traditions, “local historical events or persons of local importance” and “representations of diversity.” General Amherst, like the town, is named after General Jeffery Amherst, commander of the British forces during the Seven Years War and first Governor General of the territories that became Canada. Other schools have been renamed over the decades. These include Amherstburg Public School originally Richmond St. School and Essex Public School replacing Maplewood and Sun Parlor Jr. schools. There have been name changes such as Centennial Secondary School becoming Holy Names after the school was transferred to the Catholic board. In terms of renaming combined schools, Scantlebury gave examples of Westview Freedom Academy (Century SS amalgamated with Forster SS when Forster was closed), Dr. David Suzuki PS (combination of Princess Anne and Concord in a new building) and West Gate PS (amalgamation of Dr. Taylor and Benson public schools).
City hotline nabs Ont Works abuser and gets property mess complaints
WindsorOntarioNews.com June 8 2021
A person illegally collecting Ontario Works was disqualified and the case sent to Windsor police after an anonymous complaint was sent to the city’s Concerned Citizen/Concerned Employee Hotline, which accepts tips related to frauds, waste, and/or abuse of city assets. There were 20 complaints in the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 sent to the hotline, managed by PriceWaterhouse Coopers. All were resolved. Three of the complaints concerned Covid. One was a concern of working too closely to another person indoors without proper ventilation. A second was a snitch on a gathering violating Covid restrictions “and the police department’s handling of the situation.” The third was generally related to Covid “guidelines and restrictions.” Other cases were complaints about private properties. One was that a person was making “changes to his house without a permit.” Another “related to a carport tent in a residential areas.” Another to “different items on one property (extension to the house, house being run down, unsafe conditions, garbage visible on the property).” Still another that an apartment building was “dilapidated and falling apart.” There were also neutral or positive inquiries. Someone wanted to “bring scenarios of American Civil War involving Windsor/Detroit refugees to the attention of the City of Windsor.” Another wanted to thank Mayor Drew Dilkens “for setting up an emergency shelter at the aquatic centre” (for homeless during Covid-19). Other complaints were related to more mundane matters like garbage pickup and trash along the EC Row Expressway. There were calls about matters over which the city had no control. To make a complaint call 519-254-9357 or email to email@example.com. Callers are protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well as the City's Concerned Employee Policy.
Calls for re-opening border coming overwhelmingly from US politicians
WindsorOntarioNews.com May 21 2021
When it comes to re-opening the international border Canada and the United States seem very far apart. Over the past month there have been increasing calls for the international border, closed to non-essential traffic since March 2020 due to Covid restrictions, to re-open in some way. But the calls, at least from politicians, have almost entirely come from the US side. Brian Higgins, (photo) the Congressman representing Buffalo and Niagara Falls, has been leading the charge. As far back as last August he helmed a bipartisan letter signed by 29 members of Congress calling on the US and Canadian governments to begin to develop a framework for a phased reopening. He also called for wider exemptions for family members, businesspeople and residents to attend to personal property. Then last month, Higgins, who also co-chairs the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group of both countries, called for expansion of Amtrak rail service between Western New York state and Toronto. And this month he asked the US Homeland Security Secretary to “expand the definition of essential traveller to allow families to reunite.” Canada already allows such exemptions but Higgins wants the US to do the same. Also this month, given the CDC’s dropping of the mask mandate, Higgins believes he has more ammunition for a safer border reopening. He called on President Joe Biden to “directly engage” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to widen the definition of essential travellers by the end of May and fully reopen by early July. He said the CDC decision “underscores the minimal risk Americans will pose to Canadians when crossing the border to visit family and property." Not just Higgins but US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, also a Democrat, called for re-opening the border. “It is time to take the first steps towards reopening the northern border to non-essential travel," Schumer said, calling for a "staged and steady" plan that would be "based on science, data and common sense." From the Canadian side there has been little if any pick-up at least publicly. Trudeau and the US this week extended the non-essential border travel closure again until June 21. What Trudeau has said is that 75 per cent of Canadians need to at least get their first vaccine dose before the border can re-open. And Ontario Premier Doug Ford as recently as yesterday again called for tighter border controls. But a wrinkle. US Homeland Security yesterday tweeted: “We're working closely with Canada & Mexico to safely ease restrictions as conditions improve.”
City owed more than $46 mil in fines
WindsorOntarioNews.com May 11 2021
The City of Windsor is owed more than $46 million in fines dating back more than a decade. That amounts to almost 72,000 separate violations. But, a city report says, this “is not just a Windsor issue, it’s a province wide concern.” In many cases these are from businesses no longer operating, individuals who can no longer be traced or are deceased, and out of country residents. The report says that for older fines “all reasonable measures” have been made to collect them. Next year the city will look to adopt a “write off policy” for the outstanding amounts. But, says the report, this would be done for “accounting purposes only.” It does “not absolve” the offender from paying the fines. Debts to the Crown are “owed in perpetuity and are never forgiven.” The fines are for minor provincial offences which the city has administered for the past 20 years. Altogether the city took in more than $47 million. Last year the city took in $244,155 distributed almost equally between the city and county based on assessment. The amount was a “significant decrease” – 9.7 per cent less – compared to 2019. There were just over 24,000 charges or about 2000 tickets issued monthly. For non-payment the city exerts “considerable efforts” through execution of writs, municipal tax roll, garnishment of wages, third party collections and through Service Ontario such as driver’s licence renewal. Municipalities were compensated by the province for lost revenue from fines last year from Covid relief funding. Provincial offences include those under the Highway Traffic Act, the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, the Liquor License Act and the Trespass to Property Act.
Photo: Wikimedia -Yoichi R. Okamoto
Regulating pot odours tricky
WindsorOntarioNews.com April 27 2021
Want to regulate cannabis odours? Maybe wait for a court decision first. That was the answer the city’s legal department gave to a question by Ward 8 councillor Gary Kaschak. He cites a “burgeoning community problem” with “substantial odours” permeating neighbourhoods because some residents grow their own pot, as federally regulated for medical and personal amounts. Those with medical licences can grow “hundreds of plants…leading to significant odour issues.” But an odour bylaw “presents certain challenges.” Such law could be violating federal legislation. Four other Ontario municipalities have such laws. One, Leamington’s, which applies to larger grow facilities and not a lone person, is being challenged in court. Kingsville’s bylaw covers all growers but has only had complaints about industrial ones. Pelham has an “odour unit” trained to use a “Nasal Rangers” that cost $5000 each but it targets industrial growers only. Hamilton’s bylaw, though “very broad,” is targeted at large producers. In Windsor, there have been 10 complaints about odour and all “relate to the same property.” That location has Health Canada approval. Health Canada has indicated a “need for retooling” regulations given 43,000 people have licences which can average as many as 200 indoor and outdoor plants. Says the city’s lawyer, “Striking the correct balance will be difficult and the ability to enforce such a by-law against residential growers is questionable.” It recommends waiting Health Canada's public consultation or for the court’s decision, to be heard this fall, of Leamington’s by-law, and "any guidance" that comes from it.
Photo: By A7nubis - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2986103
Local protest leaders decry lockdown
WindsorOntarioNews.com April 8 2021
A leader of a group of local businesses that have been protesting Covid restrictions questions just how good lockdowns are when Toronto’s Covid numbers keep rising despite being severely locked down since mid-November. “Toronto’s been on lockdown for how long now?” asked Filip Rocca, owner of Mezzo Ristorante. “And it still remains the hottest spot in Canada and we’re saying lockdowns work?” He and businesswoman Kim Spirou were among protesters last month in front of the Windsor Essex County Health Unit. Rocca says he was crushed by the provincial order last week that eliminated indoor dining after Windsor-Essex had been in a modified red zone allowing 50 per cent indoor dining. Rocca says regions with low rates of Covid are paying for the high rates in the GTA. “If things were the opposite and Toronto had low numbers and Windsor had high numbers, what do you think would happen? They would be staying open, and we would be shutting down.” Overnight he lost “95 per cent” of his business which had been attracting full tables at 50 per cent capacity. Now there is not even patio service, only take-out and delivery, Meanwhile, Kim Spirou, who runs an event planning and fundraising business as well as owner of Salon Brush, said the shutdowns “haven’t really done anything to address the root cause of the spread which is not small business.” She called the restrictions “very arbitrary” particularly when small businesses have excelled at protecting health. “The science and the data have clearly indicated that Covid spread, even in this third wave, is not attributed to restaurants, salons, personal care services, and gyms,” Spirou said. “There’s less than 2 per cent of spread that can be traced to a restaurant or bar, .4 per cent of spread is traced to a gym. In Windsor we’ve had zero cases of a hair salon associated with a Covid case – that’s zero.” Every lock down she’s had to lay off four people. She was locked down mid-December to Mid-February and then last weekend again. This despite big box stores were “teeming” with customers Easter weekend. Asked about increased provincial funding to compensate for closures, Spirou scoffed “I have way more expenses than that, I haven’t been able to make income, I can’t pay my mortgage, sorry, it’s just not enough.” And she doesn’t want “a handout.” Both Spirou and Rocca are monitoring the situation and said no immediate future protests are planned.
Say goodbye to errant truck yards
WindsorOntarioNews.com March 25 2021
The City of Windsor this spring will be revamping its planning regulations to counter the proliferation of rogue truck storage yards. Over the past decade more and more of these unlicenced yards have popped-up, sometimes is grass fields but many in abandoned industrial sites which still have tarmac and fences around them. Most are in industrial areas but still don’t conform to a myriad planning regulations. These include noise, dust, not having proper curb cuts or paving, awkward and dangerous access on to busy thoroughfares and proximity to residential neighbourhoods. The city undertook a massive “blitz” of these yards two years ago and found 26 illegal ones. These ranged from parcels with less than a dozen vehicles to those with upwards of 100. “There’s absolutely no paving, no fencing, nothing. Some of them didn’t even have a curb cut so they were just driving off the property on to the street,” Windsor senior planner Adam Szymczak said. Then city has brought charges against the landowners and three have gone to court. First offence fines can range from suspended sentences to $50,000, Rob Vani, the city’s manager of inspections, said. Traditionally city rules meant trucks could only park on properties where there was an affiliated building like an office or terminal. But given the proliferation of these newer yards it is planning to change zoning criteria to allow them. In the future “they can have a simple yard so long as meets site plan control standards,” he said. New measures will require yards to have proper setbacks, street access, berms and lighting. Neighbours had complained of noise such as back up beepers “at all hours of the night” and refrigeration units running 24/7, Szymczak said. Why the growth of such yards? The city points to two reasons. Our border location means a natural stop before progressing on to the US or vice versa. And increasingly stringent work rules mean drivers can only work so long before they have to stop for the night. “Windsor became kind of a natural stop,” Szymczak said.
City Hall buys mainly local
WindsorOntarioNews.com March 4 2021
Always buying local might be a good idea but it also can be illegal. Such is the conclusion of a report to City Council (right). Replying to a question from councillor Kieran McKenzie, in major procurements the practice would be discriminatory and violate the city’s own purchasing bylaw, provincial policies and international trade agreements, the report says. It would also violate the Discriminatory Business Practices Act along with the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, Canadian European Trade Agreement and United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. “All of these trade agreements include requirements to allow generally unimpeded access to markets above a certain dollar threshold,” the report says. The city’s purchasing policy also reflects the provincial Supply Chain Code of Ethics. Purchasing “must be open and accountable…..contracting and purchasing activities must be fair, transparent and conducted with a view to obtaining the best value for public money.” However, there are still many opportunities for purchasing local and the city’s track record shows that it mostly does. “In scenarios where local criteria are necessary, the City has the right to demand local service,” says the report. An example is a local construction company available on short notice or having local knowledge of a specific work site. Also, for purchases at lower dollar amounts without formal procurement local vendors can and are mostly chosen, often simply because of an "inherent cost advantage." So, over the past two years 66 per cent of contacts over $25,000 went to city or county vendors. That “doesn’t account” for smaller purchases “which more frequently tend to be local.”
Newspapers' blank front page campaign met mainly with scowls
WindsorOntarioNews.com February 11 2021
A campaign by News Media Canada to generate public support for Canada’s newspapers seemed to generate more antagonism than agreement, if online comments from readers is any indication. The campaign saw scores of front pages of Canadian newspapers go blank last Thursday. “It represents a very real phenomenon — local headlines and local newspapers are disappearing across Canada,” Postmedia senior VP Lucinda Chodan of Postmedia wrote in an accompanying article. (The Windsor Star is a member of Postmedia, Canada’s largest media chain.) The campaign urges readers to contact their MP to have government force tech giants Facebook and Google to pay for news they take from those companies and distribute without paying. The platforms also “drain off” 80 per cent of all digital advertising, Chodan wrote. But most readers who left comments were having none of it. “Gee, and I thought the blank page was reporting today's breaking news instead of old news!” the lead off comment in the Star said. The next was supportive. “They are profiting from the lion's share of advertising as our local journalists and advertisers lose their jobs.” That was challenged by someone who said that the tech platform articles obviously link back to the publications themselves which are “benefiting.” Said another: “If news created by Canadian media outlets is protected by Canadian copyright laws, how are Google, Facebook and others allowed to use it without consequences?” Another pointed to traditional media’s apparent hypocrisy: “These groups are only doing was Postmedia did to the small local papers. A taste of their own medicine and bad for us.” Another berated Postmedia for diluting the Star’s content over the years. “Post News chose to make local cuts and centralize content creation. Our newspaper is a shadow of its former self…” Meanwhile, at Postmedia’s flagship National Post, the overwhelming number of of 50 comments blasted the campaign or traditional media. “Absolute rubbish! There’s plenty of local news — it’s not in print it’s online.” Or, “What did you do with your share of the $650 million (already granted to newspapers by Ottawa)?...And: “When was the last time you saw anyone under 40 reading a real newspaper? The traditional newspaper has died.” Among the few supportive comments: “those who work to get and print this news need to eat and pay the rent. Simply demanding more or better news coverage does not achieve that. Forcing internet news businesses to pay for what they use is only fair.”