And now ... Quick Hits

The hissing of summer lawns: With apology to Joni Mitchell’s album of the same name, the City of Windsor has a two-member crew: one to push a lawn mower, the other to walk in front to make sure no endangered Butler’s garter snake is injured. – 8/10/18

Mother of all misnamed: In mythology the Phoenix is a bird that rises from the ashes, but the federal government’s Phoenix payroll system has essentially crashed and burned, with wildly skewed civil servant pay cheques, now costing more than $400 million and the addition of 1100 staff to fix. – 7/30/18

Self-loathing: A survey found that central office staff of the Detroit Public Schools, even more than the general public, would not recommend their schools as a place to study. 63 per cent disapproved vs. 50 per cent of teachers and 40 per cent of families. – 6/14/18

Have some sympathy: Lawyer Laura Joy asked the court to impose a lighter sentence for Kenneth Sparks, saying he’s “very sorry,” has a dozen grandchildren and wants to “enjoy his golden years.” Sparks, a career criminal, was convicted of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon – stabbing one woman and hitting another woman in the head with a pipe. – 5/18/18

Poor choice of words: Anitra Escoto, a Lakeshore resident who this week spoke against a proposed cemetery on a former golf course along her street, said why change the current neighbourhood, which is "so calm and peaceful.” – 9/5/18

Jumping the gun: No one knows why a man drove a rented van into a crowd of people in north end Toronto Monday. But the city’s mayor, John Tory, seems to think there’s a specific reason. Why else did he describe his city as “being inclusive” and “accepting and understanding?” - 4/24/18

Double standard: Ford CEO Jim Hackett told a Michigan business audience that “women tell the truth” more than men when it comes to apprehension over driverless cars. Imagine the hullabaloo if he had said the opposite? – 10/11/17

What took them so long? The feds finally got around to designating Windsor a foreign trade zone - the eighth such region - despite the fact we have one quarter of all trade between Canada and the US.- 1/8/17

How to offend locals: In launching a new cross-border advertising campaign BIA rep Greg Plante called Windsor “a great suburb of Detroit.”– 18/7/17

Space age People Mover: Detroit mayoral candidate Coleman Young Jr. is proposing two-person pod SkyTran that uses electromagnetic power for personal rapid transit. – 12/7/17

No sense of humour: Authorities in St. Marys were not impressed after an Animal House type prank where students sent four piglets scurrying through school halls and assembly, eliciting criticism for “bullying” the animals. – 4/7/17

Canada’s safety net fails: Upset to pay for hospital parking local citizen Larry Robert says: “Health care is free by the government, but it’s not free to park.” -24/6/17

Land of the absurd: Ontario will spend $45 billion to save ratepayers $24 billion on electricity bills, watchdog says. - 25/5/17

Commie to capitalist: Andy Warhol’s image of Chairman Mao, deceased leader of the great Chinese poverty-stricken oppressed masses, recently sold for US$12.6 million. – 7/4/17

Only in Ottawa: The Liberal government is considering eliminating House of Commons' sittings on Fridays so as to be "family-friendly" for MPs with kids. - 22/3/17

What took so long? The litigious Ambassador Bridge company has filed suit against it carrying hazmat, regulations that have existed for decades. – 23/2/17

Irony: University of California, Berkeley, home of the 1960's Free Speech Movement (FSM), this week cancelled a speech by high profile right-wing speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, amidst violent riots against the speaker. – 3/2/17

You can't make this up: Abi Roach (surely not her real name?) is the representative for the Cannabis Friendly Business Association. - 1/12/16

You snooze, you lose: Sleep-deprived Derek Callaghan got a rude awakening this week when Windsor police found him slumped over the wheel of his automobile and, upon closer inspection, also allegedly found a huge cache of drugs. – 21/10/16

Teacher, teach yourself: The University of Michigan is embarking on a wide-ranging program to connect university studies to poverty issues and groups, when its average tuition is $29,000 for in-state students and $60,000 for out-of-state students. – 6/10/16

Water water everywhere: Windsor Enwin employees like drinking commercial bottled water when their own utility is recognized as having the best tasting water in Ontario. -15/9/16

Back to the future: The company that put the world on motorized wheels, Ford, is partnering with Motivate, a bicycle-sharing company. - 10/9/16

Snakes are people too: Jenny Pearce, owner of Sciensational Sssnakes of Guelph, compared negative attitudes by humans towards the slithering reptiles as being like “chauvinism or racism.” - 19/7/16

Out of a job yet? Keep buying…: reports that the top five vehicles with the most American content are, wait for it, Toyota and Honda. – 30/6/16

Insert joke here: Canada Post is considering using drones to deliver the mail. – 24/6/16

Still a handout: "When I use a word," said Humpty Dumpty, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." Premier Kathleen Wynne explained an $85 million grant to FCA is not corporate welfare but an example of “partnerships.” – 16/6/16

Oppression is good: Uber, which just received a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia, says introducing the ridesharing service in the misogynistic country, where women are not permitted to drive, is good, because it will at least help get them around. -2/6/16

No names: Our area suffers from badly-named projects. First it was the Herb Gray Parkway, then the Gordie Howe Intl. Bridge, and now the Little Ceasars Arena, new home of the Red Wings. - 28/4/16

Dubious distinctions: The Herb Gray Parkway is the most expensive 11 km highway in Ontario history while the EC Row Expressway was the shortest freeway that took the longest time to build. – 21/4/16

Quote of the week: Little did they know but when the NDP put forward its recent Leap manifesto it could be mocked, as BC premier Christy Clark did, as Communist China’s 1950’s “Great Leap Forward” in which as many as 40 million died. – 15/4/16

Bald racism: Toronto Black Lives Matter co-founder Yusra Khogali tweeted: “Plz Allah give me the strength not to cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today.” – 11/4/16

Thanks Europe: One million refugees from the strife torn Middle East have been welcomed on the continent yet two major terrorist attacks have targeted European cities in the past five months. – 23/3/16

Slum landlord: None other than the federal government, which owns the long dilapidated and hoarded-up Paul Martin Building and the grossly deteriorating Amherstburg Boblo dock. – 22/3/16

Corporate jargon: Right up there with “sanitary engineer” comes “delivery agent,” Canada Post’s term for the person who delivers your mail. - 9/3/16

Cliche revived: With the province's Innovation Supercorridor announcement, once again it proves that the province does end at London. - 3/3/16

Taxi or Uber: The alternative for unreasonable Windsor parents who want door to door school bus pick up for their little darlings, afraid kiddies will have to walk a few blocks to the nearest bus stop. – 25/2/16

Hot air: According to the UN, Canada’s contingent at the recent Paris climate summit saw more than 380 politicians and bureaucrats make the trip, triple those sent by the US and quadruple the number from the UK. - 4/2/16

Dumb-dee-dumb-dumb: With temperatures around or well above the freezing mark this past weekend rescue crews in Michigan had to pull six vehicles out of Lake St. Clair that had fallen through the weak ice. – 2/2/16

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

Please enter the word that you see below.


Noted and filed

August 9/18: The Detroit Free Press took a look back in time to a pioneer in Detroit condo development – long before the current boom in downtown office and residential growth fueled by billionaire Dan Gilbert. He happens to be a Windsorite – Mark Clark. “In the years before downtown Detroit had craft cocktail bars, pet boutiques and $5 pour-over coffees, Mark Clark offered deals on what were then considered upscale city apartments,” the Freep says. Clark rented lofts in downtown’s Capitol Park known appropriately enough as Clark Lofts and marketed as “Detroit’s Best Address.” The newspaper calls his then economically priced apartments “artifacts of a bygone era.” Clark opened the W. Grand River Ave. units in the late 1990s, when downtown Detroit was still virtually a ghost town, and sold them in late 2013. His one-time building, appropriately enough, is now owned by Gilbert’s real estate firm Bedrock, which gutted and refurbished them, with former leases not renewed by an intermediary Chinese company. The current units were divided and prices jacked-up. “Today, Clark's former lofts building stands as a prime exhibit of the dramatic rise in rental housing prices in downtown Detroit that have occurred in the past five years. “It is also an example of a downtown building that was deliberately emptied of tenants and later renovated, rebranded and reopened for new renters willing to pay much higher rates,” says the newspaper.

July 25/18:The closure of the Heinz plant in Leamington several years ago had an unforeseen consequence for one of its office staff, who has successfully sued for damages as a result of her post-Leamington employment. Writing in the Financial Post, labour lawyer Howard Levitt documents the case of Karen Robinson, once Heinz’s Manager, Leamington Accounting and Supply-Chain Finance. When the Leamington plant closed in 2014 Robinson was asked if she’d transfer to Toronto as Senior Manager of Accounting. Robinson agreed but with “deep roots” in the Leamington area did so with “considerable reflection,” realizing the upside could be significant career growth. Then Heinz merged with Kraft Foods and changed Robinson’s employment, including losing responsibility for payroll. “Robinson was excluded from any discussions regarding these changes, which she viewed as a demotion,” Levitt writes. She subsequently resigned and sued for constructive dismissal, getting 15 months severance and compensation related to house sales and moving expenses, totaling just over $45,000.

July 9/18: There might be some irony in this. According to a report in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press, the family whose father has been honored by being the namesake of the new Windsor-Detroit bridge, has some sympathy for the owners of the competing Ambassador Bridge. The Ambassador Bridge’s Maroun family has been legally challenging the new government-owned (and subsidized) bridge for many years with as many as 25 lawsuits, all of which they have lost. The Marouns believe the new bridge is unfair competition to their private bridge (the family also plans to build a replacement bridge). Said Howe’s son Mark Howe to the Free Press, “The family who owns the Ambassador Bridge, I can understand them suing the new bridge — that could affect their livelihood. I understand them trying to do whatever they can to slow the project down or change its direction. I can respect that."

May 18/18: LaSalle native Luke Willson, 28, is defending the Detroit Lions’ new head coach Matt Patricia. Patricia is in the middle of a controversy over an alleged sexual assault that took place more than 20 years ago during spring break on South Padre Island, Texas. Willson, a former Seattle Seahawks player, joined the Lions this year as a free agent. Patricia has emphatically denied the allegations. Willson told the Detroit Free Press: “I met with Coach Patricia through free agency, called some people that I'd known throughout the league and I've got a pretty good grasp of who I believe Coach Patricia is. And you can tell. We've had squad meetings before. I feel very comfortable with him as our leader and, again, it's business as usual around here. It's football.”

Apr 24/18: Back in the 1990s, before NAFTA took effect, it seemed voices were almost unanimous, especially from labor leaders, that the trade agreement would be ruinous for the Canadian economy. Lately, now that NAFTA is being renegotiated, more voices may be defending the treaty than criticizing it. But not one person. CAW former president Buzz Hargrove is as critical of NAFTA today as he was back in the day. Speaking this month at the Canada-US Law Institute, Hargrove, who rose through the CAW ranks from a Windsor assembly line job, said this about the agreement that US President Donald Trump has demanded be redone. “We opposed NAFTA in 1994,” Hargrove said. “Where was Donald Trump when we needed him?.....We lost 100,000 jobs in Canada, our deficit with Mexico has gone up fourfold to $18 billion a year, there has been zero investment in the past five years in the auto sector in Canada and Mexico now produces 80 per cent of the cars in North America.”

Oct. 26/17: Chris Potter, who is PwC’s real estate tax leader, tells the Financial Post that there’s hope for cities like Windsor as a result of sky high real estate values in places like Toronto. He was speaking upon the release of the accounting firm’s 2018 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report. “You think about Toronto and other cities,” said Potter about the GTA’s 24-hour status (a term that denotes it’s a city so busy it never shuts down). “All of these (cities) seem to have affordability issues. What we started to see in the U.S. was, especially among younger people, affordability was a challenge. They decided regardless of what it would do to their careers, (to go) to smaller centres because they found affordable places to live. And what’s happened is some of the cooler jobs followed and what developed was a more vibrant core in those centres.”

June 6/17: The, right wing journalist and activist Ezra Levant’s popular website, did a piece on the Windsor mosque on Lincoln Road. Reporter/commentator David Menzies questioned why the City of Windsor allows an institutional building in a residential area – in fact there are two houses, the other being for women and kids while the men pray. So he calls the city's chief building official John Revell. Wouldn’t non-conforming be “a slam dunk that the mosque would be told to skedaddle?” (Earlier Menzies says, “there goes the neighbourhood.”) “No, actually.” Revell tells Menzies the city has opened a file checking on improper use. But Menzies – “Hello, City of Windsor!” - points to a sign on the door, taken by The Windsor Star, indicating clear religious purposes. “So again why is the city tip-toeing around this issue?” He quotes Revell as saying the use could simply be a social gathering or the congregants didn’t know the bylaw. “Since when is ignorance of the law considered a valid excuse?” the reporter says of the city’s “timid response.” Could it be fear of “being labelled Islamophobic, is it a concern that the owners of this mosque will file a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission alleging that Windsor’s zoning laws are anti-Islamic?” A 30-day investigation period was given. Menzies says he will follow-up. The video can be seen on

May 19/17: Marijuana. The Border. Windsor. When the federal government legalizes the weed in just over a year what repercussions could the law have on a border town like Windsor, already experiencing varying border delays depending on vagaries like the time of day or day of the week or the number of inspection booths open or the particular whims of the customs officer? The National Post’s Chris Selley this week indirectly raised some of those questions in a column otherwise about the way the feds are approaching pot legalization. In point of fact, he was raising the questions to show almost a paranoid view of drug regulation. Call us paranoid, but they're worth considering. Among them: what happens if someone rolls up to the border reeking of marijuana? Since the weed is legal would that bar Canadians from the US because, federally, marijuana smoking is still a US crime? Will more vehicles be turned into secondary inspection or turned back altogether because sniffer dogs smell the evil weed? Will the Trump administration, ever vigilant on border security, instruct customs to scrutinize anyone coming from Canada even more? Will there be more people smuggling dope into the US? And, just like some US folks are stopped for carrying weapons into Canada, will Canucks be stopped and charged for carrying baggies of Mary Jane?

April 26/17: The respected transportation blog Pedestrian Observations doesn’t think hi-speed rail is right for Windsor. In an April 7 post author Alon Levy, a mathematician who has lived widely around the world and has “a side interest in urbanism and mass transit that is entirely unrelated to my work” – though reading his intricate blogs about train spacing and speed you might think differently – wrote this: “Canada is not building high-speed rail anytime soon; if it were, it would connect Toronto with Montreal, using Lakeshore East, and not with points west, i.e. London and Windsor. London and Windsor are small, and a high-speed connection to Toronto would be financially marginal, even with potential onward connections to Detroit and Chicago. A Toronto-Niagara Falls-Buffalo-New York route is more promising, but dicey as well. Probably the best compromise in such case is to run trains on a four-tracked Lakeshore West line at 250 km/h; the speed difference with nonstop trains running at 160 km/h allows 15-minute frequency on each pattern without overtakes, and almost allows 12 minutes. Alternatively, express trains could use the local tracks to make stops, as I’ve recommended for some difficult mixtures of local, express, and intercity trains on the Northeast Corridor in New York.