Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I must have been dreaming...

In this week's article I'll continue my discussion of leadership, contrasting past leaders with those elected officials at the helm of our city today.

On August 28th, 1963 Martin Luther King delivered, what has become, one of the most famous speeches in the history of the world. Remembered by the trademark statement 'I have a dream' King's address propelled the issue of racial segregation and discrimination from a 'black-issue' to a national travesty, garnering the support of political, religious and business leaders in a united effort to beat the plague of racism. King's dedication in identifying and transcending the racial divide, especially in the Southern states, was immortalized when he was assassinated on April 4th, 1968. An impassioned leader, King intimately understood the problem at hand, developed a vision and a plan and, in the end, was willing to sacrifice everything to achieve the greater good.

Fast-forward almost 45 years and present day Windsor. In the May 2006 State of the City address Mayor Eddie Francis delivered a cacophony of vision and promises for a better city. Mayor Francis reminisced on his committments of 2004 to build "a city renewed .... a clean city ... a city with a thriving, vibrant culture." He identified four key areas that, when addressed in parallel, would create a symbiotic success.

First, financial stability. Francis committed to manage our tax dollars more efficiently by focusing on core municipal services and "not wasting money on things that a municipal government should never have been paying for in the first place." He also committed to tackle the root causes of debt and high taxes.

Second, better service and more accountability through corporate accountability and "the idea that the municipality is there to serve the people and not the other way around."

Third, jobs and investment. Francis declared that Windsor would compete for jobs and investment "just like our entrepreneurs and businesses", while attracting and retaining smart people and growth industries through infrastructure, environmental and economic development.
Fourth, defend the interests of the people of Windsor, especially on the border issue.

On the face of it, Francis appears to understand that municipal accountability, a robust and sustainable economy, built on the foundation of environmental, social and cultural diversity, with a good dose of tax reductions, without the associated reductions in service or increase in debt, will build a strong and vibrant city. A review of the current status of our local economy, introverted municipal government and rising taxes, both property and essential services, shows that reality flies in the face of the commitment by Francis and city council.

In spite of 28 pages trumpeting the successes of his first term, astute citizens recognize that Windsor, under Francis' leadership, has done little to "build a greater city." Some of the 2006 "accomplishments" are down-right laughable, including the following proclamation:

"We are beautifying our neighbourhoods and streetscapes...We're bringing people
back downtown. The entire face of our downtown is transforming, and transforming
for the better...[W]e talked about building a balanced downtown where people could
live, work and play."

Talk is cheap. Windsor needs a leader, politician or otherwise, who is willing to throw caution to wind and do what is right for the people. Windsor has the resources that it needs to become everything that Mayor Francis proclaimed it was, could be and will be. It is time to unleash the collective creativity of grass roots citizens, city administration and our municipal government. It is time to make the changes that need to be made, before tragedy or circumstance force us to play catch up in a race for status quo.

Forget re-election. Forget pork-barrelled, backroom deals. Forget maintaining status quo. Windsor needs someone who is going to get the job done; to make the changes that will transform our city into an oasis of sustainability and prosperity. Windsor needs a maverick, a loose-cannon; someone to buck the system. I long for the day when the grand standing of city council is interrupted by a booming voice of reason, calling council to action that doesn't involve patting each other on the back. We need a political martyr, ready to force the changes that Windsor needs or die, socially and politically speaking, while trying.

18 comments:

dave said...

I understand that Scaledown's message is to be positive but once in a while we have to see things for what they are. Right now things are quite negative and haven't gotten any better since about 2005.
I am one of the citizens who is willing to stick his neck out and be martyr. I believe that if we don't have visions that surpass our competition we will always be left behind or reaching for the status-quo. The question is. How long can we continue to do that?

Yes, talk is cheap as we have seen but I am willing to put my money where my mouth is. As citizens we are not to be ignored any longer.

An absolutely brillaint article Mr. Biggley. I have been saying this for 3 years now. Hopefully the rest of the citizenry sees this blog, for all of our sake.

Urbanrat said...

A threaten coup d'etat! Is that what it will take to get this mayor and city council to stop what they are doing and come clean with the citizens of this city!

Suggestions of having a recall won't go anywhere, explicit documentation on the blogs of this mayor and city council's failures, obstructions and back room deals...sorry...I meant in-camera meetings hasn't done anything to make them change their destructive behaviour towards this city, the county, the province and this country.

I have come to believe and accept that Mayor Francis and his privy council...star chamber are not acting in Windsor's best interest but in the mayor's personal interest in HIS city. That $900,000 for branding a carcass will come from the citizens that use and rely on their libraries to access city information that they can't get in the newspapers or off the city's website but the mayor even wants to reduce that access, having the absolute authority to clarify and re-clarify any opposition to his dream of greatness.

I have a scream...ah I meant I have dream..nah..it is more like Munch's painting The Scream that I am living in at the present in this city.

We will need more than just Dave's courageous act, thank you Dave for being the first to fall on your sword, we need a continuous line of martyrs willing to keep the pressure on this city to change it's ways from the nineteenth century autocracy that we now have to an enligthen, EDUCATED, creative forum of citizens that fully understand what is at stake NOW!

Sporto said...

This is a great focus of whats needed!
Only 1,010 days to make it happen. It makes me think of Chicago's mayor requiring every public building in the city to be green with green roofs. It wasn't cheap, or popular but he did it. i don't think he closed libraries to make it happen either.

John said...

After reading the paper today, I have to wonder if there's any hope at all for city hall. Dead people buying gas on the taxpayers's dime, $85,000 on repair bills for 11 year old Cavaliers. This isn't just waste. There is corruption somewhere. Those in a position of power and trust are having a field day on our tax dollars. Do these abuses go on in every city? Is it just some kind of mentality of entitlement municipal managers have that allows for these dishonest practices? Who is running city hall anyways, the Sopranos?

Urbane Cyclist said...

Am I reading too much into Dave's comment? Dave, are you going to run for council in 1010 days? I hope to god that you're in Ward 2 - that would be a no-lose situation as it wouldn't bother me if either of those representatives lost their job.

Mark Boscariol said...

Hey, Dave from one guy whose willing to stick his head out to another. You got my vote.

Mark Boscariol said...

Francis Record has two sides. I don't like being put as a defender of any mayor but in fairness, the other side must be told

1. Transit terminal downtown.
2. Increase of convention center from 25,000ft2 to 100,000 ft
3. Increase of downtown entertainment arena from 1500 seats to 5000 seats
4. Streetscape (although I don't know if he supports this anymore)
5. Demolition of guesthouse and allowing development of Bistro helping to connect downtown to the riverfront
6. Superbowl legacy Playground set at the riverfront adding a new amenity to the core
7. Downtown College Campus
8. Unsuccessful but valiant attempt to get downtown University Campus
9. Stated but inactive support of new residential downtown as a priority. (at least the guy acknowledges its a priority)

I'm sure this will attract as many trolls as one of my insults but oh well. All in the name of getting out the entire story.

Adriano Ciotoli said...

I hate to do this Mark, but I’m going to be one of those trolls for a moment. Sorry :)

1. Transit terminal downtown.
a. The parcel of land is much too small to accommodate the buses. No person or business in their right mind will locate into the “Western Super Anchor” lands when it is completely surrounded by idling buses.

2. Increase of convention center from 25,000ft2 to 100,000 ft
a. Nothing to do with the mayor. This is Caesar’s trying to maintain a certain image and quality.

3. Increase of downtown entertainment arena from 1500 seats to 5000 seats
a. Same as 2a

4. Streetscape (although I don't know if he supports this anymore)
a. Of all people you should give credit to the fact this was almost single handedly because of the DWBIA. Bravo to them.

5. Demolition of guesthouse and allowing development of Bistro helping to connect downtown to the riverfront
a. I have nothing bad to say about this aside from the final cost, which I am sure will always be an issue with anything done by the city, and the fact it should have been done years earlier.

6. Superbowl legacy Playground set at the riverfront adding a new amenity to the core
a. In all seriousness, it’s playground equipment which we essentially paid for with our $$$ contribution to Detroit. Maybe I was a little na├»ve to expect more?

7. Downtown College Campus
a. Again, no complaints here. Well done.

8. Unsuccessful but valiant attempt to get downtown University Campus
a. Odds are you know more than I do on this topic, but how valiant of an attempt was it when the U of W board said they were never shown a presentation? I think it was a blessing in disguise not getting the engineering building downtown though. Arts are much better suited and a better catalyst for rejuvenation.
b. Maybe slightly off topic, but it is an absolute disgrace the treatment the University of Windsor is receiving from our city leaders because of their decision. They have turned what should be celebrations for a major investment, not only Windsor but also possibly all of Ontario, into a vilifying campaign against the University.

9. Stated but inactive support of new residential downtown as a priority. (at least the guy acknowledges its a priority)
a. Isn’t talk all he has really done? Border? Lawsuits? CityStat? Germany? The list can go on.

Maybe this will spark another intense debate…but isn’t that what this site is about?

Adriano Ciotoli said...

In addition to my previous comment, I would like to go a little further with the mention of Arts being a catalyst for rejuvenation.

I have yet to ever see a vibrant downtown that has not fully embraced and promoted all aspects of the arts. This is something our Downtown and the entire region is sorely missing.

Imagine a University of Windsor Arts campus located next to the Art Gallery of Windsor. Now picture that campus blended into an "urban village" which contains a top-notch museum, various sculptures, statues depicting our history, fountains, decorative banners, some main level storefronts with multiple levels of residential above. The best part yet would it being pedestrian only. Tiled or interlocking brick walkways, brick buildings with large storefront windows, enough room for patios should the need arise, overhanging decorative LED lights instead of streetlights to illuminate the walkways. Throw in the Capitol and Chrysler Theatres being only a block or two away and I think you have a destination that both tourists and locals alike would love to frequent on a regular basis.

As Mark and many others have stated before, incentives to developers need to be created to jumpstart anything. At one point, Michigan based Beztak proposed to build an arena/urban village free of charge in exchange for the land. If the city was prepared to do this for the University, why could it not do so for them? At the very least this would finally create tax revenue from those lands, if nothing else.

Could this ever become a reality in Windsor?

Mark Boscariol said...

Adriano, dude, thats not trolling, thats called intelligent debate. Sorry :)

1. Transit - They have a terminal in downtown Kalamazoo that works real nice and can ve viewed here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Kalamazoo_transportation_center_front_2006.png

a. Nothing to do with the mayor. This is Caesar’s trying to maintain a certain image and quality.

3. Increase of downtown entertainment arena from 1500 seats to 5000 seats

I strongly believe you are Wrong, this would never had been done if the cleary and downtown arena remained to compete against it

4. Streetscape - Perfect partnership, no one side gets more credit.


6. Superbowl comments (hey, I admit, I was starting to reach here

7. but how valiant of an attempt was it when the U of W board said they were never shown a presentation?

I posed this same question to Professor Rick Haldenby, He said in their situation , the city asked The U. what it would take to bring the campus downtown. The U. Told them and put the responsibility on the city. In this case the U never put the ball in the city's court and made a demand. Maybe they should build a business school downtown. One that teaches students how to make counter offers in negotiations.

I don't want to sound negative on the U. I'll just never understand why they didn't make a counter proposal to at least put the ball in the city's court

9. I always pointed out citistat was BS from day 1. I talked to the head of the program in Baltimore and asked for copies of citistat documentation or manuals etc. They said it was more of a "state of Mind" than a concrete program. To my best recollection When the mayor was confronted with this by Bill Marra in a debate he just chuckled (I believe knowing no one could argue with a program that was not actually tangible.)

Look I don't believe in a George Bush "Your with us or against us" mentality. I like a lot of things about the mayor and don't like a few things. Just like a lot of other politicians. I've been getting a lot of flack for it even outside of this blog. Its extremely tough being an independant.

Mark Boscariol said...

sorry that link was

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Kalamazoo_transportation_center_front_2006.png

Mark Boscariol said...

won't post the darn link

just google kalamazoo transportation center. Several pics come up on wikipedia

The point is that in other cities, property values go up the closer you get to transit.

Adriano Ciotoli said...

Mark, I have no doubt in my mind that public transportation increases the value of property in its vicinity. I’ve read many things that have proved this.

The Kalamazoo Transportation Centre is absolutely beautiful, however, in not one picture did I see buses parked surrounded the building and surrounding blocks. While the building itself is pleasing to the eye, I don’t understand how you can deny the fact that it is just too small. If it was built properly, buses would not be left to idle on all the surrounding city blocks. I have never in my life seen this in any city I have gone to, both in Europe and North America.

As for CityStat being BS, this just confirms he is all talk. He says what sounds good and doesn’t actually follow through on much

I also believe as far as the Caesar’s expansion is concerned, it would have gone forward regardless. It was just great business “negotiation” from them. They threatened the city and got rid of any competition to ensure the most money in their pockets and the city didn’t hesitate to listen and do everything Caesar’s wanted. There is no way Caesar’s would ruin a reputation and image known worldwide on some half assed complex. Their biggest competition would hardly have been from the Cleary or a downtown arena but from the casinos across the river. I personally think it is ridiculous to assume they would not have made the grand improvements simply because of competition from the Cleary or a downtown arena. I’ve never heard of a business as large as Caesar’s going half assed because of competition in the vicinity. My opinion is they saw the opportunity to “negotiate” with a weak negotiator (the city) and took full advantage of it to rid themselves of as much competition as possible before announcing their full plans. In my eyes this makes much more business sense then building small because of nearby competition. How much business do you seriously think they would have brought in with that small a convention centre/entertainment arena?

I’m not saying the mayor has been 100% wrong or that everything he has touched has been wrong. I am just saying I personally can’t think of much that he has accomplished. 311 was great. Much needed and a great service. Aside from that I can’t recall much else. He has spent too much time talking the talk and not enough walking the walk.

Mark Boscariol said...

Remember though, Caesars didn't pay for the casino, the province did. I'm sure that the Casino executives were right alongside the mayor negotiating with the province. But it took the Cleary and Spitfire Arena deal to convince the province to spend the money.

dave said...

Thank you to all for your encouragement. You never know what may happen in 1009 days but I will let you know all in advance time...a few things must fall into place first. ;)

I for one, am also tired of people running this city as if it were their personal kingdom.

I care too damn much for my city, my people and our future to just sit back and allow people to run roughshod over what is blatantly the best option for everyone.
I am sure not everyone is going to see eye to eye but what is paramount and of utmost importance is the way we can bridge that gap so everyone walks away with something. The vision will continue...

Mark Boscariol said...

Actually thats how I categorize everyone I meet, either you care or you don't.

Ever read Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The book talks about quality being the inverse side of caring. When you care about something you are creating, you become one with that and outcome can become quality or art.

Anonymous said...

"7. but how valiant of an attempt was it when the U of W board said they were never shown a presentation?

I posed this same question to Professor Rick Haldenby, He said in their situation , the city asked The U. what it would take to bring the campus downtown. The U. Told them and put the responsibility on the city. In this case the U never put the ball in the city's court and made a demand. Maybe they should build a business school downtown. One that teaches students how to make counter offers in negotiations.

I don't want to sound negative on the U. I'll just never understand why they didn't make a counter proposal to at least put the ball in the city's court."

Mark - there was no offer. There was a vote at council to develop a business case to support a potential deal. Alan Halberstadt explained it well on his blog.

The ball was in the city's court. They decided to put together a business proposal. City council did not approve any funds, they just talked about it from what I can understand and have been told.

Anonymous said...

I'll also add, the University has an overall funding shortfall which the Star reported on. The timetable for the complex was completion in 2010.

Given that a business case had not even been prepared by the city - what is the University supposed to do? Wait? There were no committments, even though the city has been negotiating with the university for well over 6 months.

All they committed to doing was a business plan - insulting the board of governors made up business executives including WFCU, Tepperman's, Union Gas, and Centra Inc. accomplishs what exactly?

You might want to find out what Auto21 - that $800 million facility felt about it being separated from the new campus. Perhaps a phone call to Chrysler might answer some of your questions.

There is much much more to this story than meets the eye.