Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Strike Tactics by CUPE Windsor Won't Work

As we move towards week 12 of the "Endless Strike", CUPE strikers in Windsor are changing their tactics. From now on they are playing hardball!

According to very recent accounts in the local Windsor Star, CUPE workers are blocking city buses, invading city hall in large numbers to confront council members, challenging carnival workers picking up debris and just being, well..... much more visible.

Dear Striking City of Windsor Employees:

These tactics won't work! You don't need to be more visible, the folks over at the Windsor Star have taken care of that for you. With few exceptions, your every move will be reported with negative connotations, and in some cases you will be made to look foolish. Why do you think council members like Halberstadt are not on your side?

The Windsor Star has really raised the stakes, by running a story in today's paper, of a Muslim woman, accusing CUPE workers of making "rude and bigoted" comments. The matter was reported to police and of course the offending people are nowhere to be found. I don't know what happened, and I certainly don't support such activity. However, if the Windsor Star ran a story over every such allegation, there would be no room in the paper for anything else. And as everyone knows, it is impossible to defend yourself, when such allegations are given considerable space in the media. The folks at the Windsor Star know this quite well.

Fair or unfair you lost the strike 12 weeks ago. Read my post of April 28 and my post of June 1st.

My advice again, cut the best deal you can and get back to work.

Yours truly,

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tim Hudak Elected New Leader of Ontario P.C. Party

Tim Hudak MPP for the riding of Niagara West - Glanbrook was elected Leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party late last evening. Hudak takes over from Interim Leader Bob Runciman. As you may remember, Runciman stepped in as Interim Leader after John Tory flamed out badly in the last Provincial Election.

I first met John Tory in the early 1980's. I was a very young MPP, and John Tory (who was also very young) was Principal Secretary to Premier William G. Davis. Tory had a great reputation, was considered very smart and I kinda liked him.

Not only did Tory lead the P.C. Party to defeat in the provincial election of 2007, by his ill advised support of funding for any and all religious schools, he also lost his bid for re-election as an MPP. If you can believe it things then got worse for John Tory. On March 5, 2009, Tory lost his chance to re-enter the Legislature, losing a provincial by-election in the riding of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, a safe conservative riding. The next day Tory quit as Leader.

Tim Hudak was first elected to the provincial legislature in 1995, and served as Cabinet Minister for both Premier Mike Harris and Premier Ernie Eves. Experience in opposition, experience in government, experience as a cabinet minister. So today at only 41 years of age, Hudak is a skillful and proven veteran.

Hudak is a big C conservative, in the mold of Mike Harris. Hudak will take very strong positions on the right of the political spectrum; his policies will be very divisive. He will give voters a real choice in the next election. For political observers, he will make watching Ontario politics interesting again. My guess, the person watching the most right now is Ontario Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Will The Windsor Star be Dragged into Bankruptcy?

CanWest Global Communications is a Winnipeg based media company whose assets include the National Post, Global Television and the likes of our very own Windsor Star.

CanWest Global, the owners of the Windsor Star, continue to face severe financial pressures.I checked globeInvester.com on Thursday June 25, 2009, and CanWest stock was trading at less than 15 cents. The company debt is somewhere near 3.9 Billion dollars, that is Billion with a B. Wow, talk about trouble.

Read my post of June 5, 2009 for some background on a missed interest payment of some $10 million.

Recent news indicates that CanWest management is asking employees to take a 5% wage cut. We know how difficult the Windsor Star headline writers, editorial page writers and opinion writers have been on the CAW regarding wage rollbacks. And, we know how badly the same folks over at the Windsor Star, have treated striking City of Windsor CUPE workers. I guess my question is, when are we going to see a headline or two, maybe a editorial or even a story about this concession request?

As well, maybe the business section of the Windsor Star can do an information piece on the financial situation at CanWest Global, and how it might effect the Windsor Star employees, and paid subscribers. The Star has managed to find time and space to write about CBC cutbacks, the layoffs at AM 800, and the problems over at A Channel.

Windsor Star readers should be kept informed.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Town of Tecumseh Gone to the Dogs

Boy you have to hand it the co-chief honcho, of the Town of Tecumseh, Deputy Mayor Tom Burton, he knows the important issues of the day. If he and his side kick Mayor Gary McNamara are not:
If and when co-chief honchos McNamara and Burton are not doing all of the above and more, they are occupied with the big things in government, right? Good thing Burton is in charge of that landfill committee.

You could write a book about these two guys and their exemplary practice of hypocrisy. Ahh, but time doesn't allow. So for right now, this article in the Windsor Star will have to do.

While watching this video, if you look real close, you just might be able to see, co-chief honcho Burton and McNamara in the background. You gotta love those two "Hound dogs".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer is Finally Here! Drive the Wine Route

June 21st has come and gone. Summer has arrived, and it looks like warm weather is here to stay, I hope. The beauty of Essex County is everywhere. No more so, than along the scenic south shore of our lovely County.

The Detroit River flows past Amherstburg, and right past my home for that matter, just before it links up with Lake Erie. You will know when you have arrived in Amherstburg, as you will drive past the world bottling headquarters, of my favourite whisky, "Crown Royal". During my tenure as Chairman of the Windsor Essex Development Commission (and for 1 year Interim Executive Officer) I and the WEDC Board of Directors, and staff, worked very closely with the management of this very famous, (originally) Canadian whisky company. Ah! back to the wine route.

The water vistas along Amherstburg are not only lovely, but without parallel, so make it your start point or home base, for your excursions into Essex County. Drive the wine route. Get acquainted with the beauty of Essex County and our very fine wineries. You will be glad you did.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The "Great Recession" Just Won't Go Away

The World Bank released some very glum news yesterday.

The World Bank is an International Financial Institution funded by member states (governments). It's more formal name is the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The World Bank was originally established as a vehicle for reconstruction of Europe and Japan after World War II.

Over time the role of the bank expanded to include poverty alleviation and and support for developing world countries. Money given out by the World Bank is guaranteed both by the lending countries and the receiving countries.

In March of this year the World Bank predicted a 1.7 percent decline in the global economy. Yesterdays updated forecast warned of a 2.9 percent contraction. More specifically the forecast for the big economies are scary, with a 3 percent drop in the United States the world’s biggest economy. Japan’s gross domestic product will shrink 6.8 percent. The European economy may tank by 4.5 percent

These are all macro numbers, but in plain english, it means continued high unemployment, sluggish consumer spending and very high government deficits.

While not specifically mentioned in the World Bank report, the continued contraction of the world economy means something else as well. The value of homes, and property, will continue to decline. Many home owners with good credit are now under water, that is the value of their homes are less than the outstanding mortgage.

In the United Kingdom fully 10% of mortgage holders with good credit are under water.

Monday, June 22, 2009

We Should do More to Support Regime Change in Iran

It is a long time ago, January 16, 1979, but I well remember the images on T.V. The ruling Monarch of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and his family grim faced and fleeing, after having lost control of the country.

Shapour Bakhtiar, a former opposition leader, is made Prime Minister by the departing Shah, in order to quiet things down. Bakhtiar quickly makes plans for a more inclusive Majlis or Parliament. Bakhtiar lasts a grand total of 36 days. He made some big mistakes during his premiership, the biggest miscalculation was allowing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to re-enter Iran. Khomeini, in 1964, had been forced out of the country by the Shah and spent more than 14 years in exile, mostly in the city of Najaf, Iraq.

Ruhollah Khomeini was forced to leave Iraq by then Vice President Saddam Hussein. We all remember him. It is hard to believe but Khomeini ended up in France on a tourist visa. However on February 1, 1979, Khomeini returned in triumph to Iran.

Ruhollah Khomeini adamantly opposed the provisional government of Shapour Bakhtiar, and appointed his own government. In fairly short order Khomeini was in complete control of a new and radical Islamic Republic. In November 1979, the new constitution of the Islamic Republic was adopted, and Khomeini himself became the Supreme Leader. A scary title if I do say so myself. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini remained Supreme Leader until his death in 1989.

Three decades have passed since the installation of a radical cleric lead government in Iran. The current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose re-election is in serious dispute, really reports to, and gets his support from, the current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Council of Guardians, all of whom are clerics.

Today, Iran is a dangerous, socially repressive, economic basket case.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Islamic Moral Brigades, are famous, for roaming the streets of major cities, to enforce the government's crackdown on "immodest dress." President Ahmadinejad and the clerics who rule Iran are very busy. When not occupied with enforcing dress rules on women, they are busy:
I should note, that while serving as Executive Vice President at the Ambassador Bridge, I collaborated with Dr. Stephen E. Flynn of the Council on Foreign Relations, on borders and border security.

Given all of the above, and more, much more, Iran could use a regime change. A new regime could usher in the most basic of freedoms, human rights for all, the separation of Church and State and institutions to protect and enhance civil life.

I have to tell you, it is very sad watching leaders of democratic countries, especially the United States acting like timid puppies regarding this near revolution in Iran. If our leaders can't forcefully and with passion speak out for basic freedoms, they should be ashamed, and then step aside.

Good luck to the people of Iran.

Friday, June 19, 2009

10 Highest Paid Political Leaders?

I was reading the business section of the Times of London, England, and found their list of the highest paid politicians.

After some further research, I found a press release from the Government of Singapore. This document (page 7) indicates, the 2008 salary of the President of Singapore at 3.87 million and cabinet ministers at 1.94 million in local currency per year. On another website, it indicates, the 30 top paid politicians in the world, all come from Singapore! I am not making this up! Also missing from the Times of London list, is the King, and cabinet ministers from Saudi Arabia?

None the less, the Times of London list, found below, is very interesting. The salaries are listed first in U.S dollars and then in the currency of the home country.

Our own Prime Minister, Stephen Harper comes in at a respectable 8th place.

1. Lee Hsien Loong - Singapore

Salary in dollars - $2.47 million

Salary in local currency - S$3.76 million

2. Donald Tsang Yum-Kuen - Hong Kong

Salary in dollars - $516,000

Salary in local currency - HK$4 million

3. Barack Obama - United States

Salary in dollars - $400,000

4. Brian Cowen - Ireland

Salary in dollars - $341,000

Salary in local currency - €257,000

5. Nicolas Sarkozy - France

Salary in dollars - $318,000

Salary in local currency - €240,000

6. Angela Merkel - Germany

Salary in dollars - $303,000

Salary in local currency - €228,000

7. Gordon Brown - UK

Salary in dollars - $279,000

Salary in local currency - £194,250

8. Stephen Harper - Canada

Salary in dollars - $246,000

Salary in local currency - C$311,000

9. Taro Aso - Japan

Salary in dollars - $243,000

Salary in local currency - Y24 million

10. Kevin Rudd - Australia

Salary in dollars - $229,000

Salary in local currency - A$330,000

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"eHealth Ontario" Chairman Resigns

Premier Dalton McGuinty, finally makes his move, with the removal of Dr. Alan Hudson, as Chairman of eHealth Ontario. My readers should know, that I first met Dr. Hudson around 1991 or so, during my tenure as Chairman of the Ontario Legislature's Public Accounts Committee.

This scandal has been brewing for several weeks. The Liberals, were very much hoping the whole matter would go away, with the closing of the Legislature for summer recess, and with last weeks firing of eHealth CEO, Sarah Kramer. Read my post of June 8, 2009.

As I said last week the firing of Sarah Kramer "may not be the end of the story".

There are two fundamental issues here that McGuinty could not sustain.
  • very large contracts awarded (in the millions) without tender
  • Ontario Progressive Conservative Party members have said, some of these contracts were given to "Liberal friendly" firms
So as you can see, the Ontario Liberal government had an administrative, and a political problem. This is a toxic mix for Liberal MPPs, and they wanted very badly to be rid of it.

McGuinty, has fixed the administrative problem, by announcing new rules on tendering. By firing Dr. Hudson, whom, according to media reports, he personally appointed, McGuinty may have fixed the political problem.

Again, this may not be the end of the story. The Conservatives smell blood, and they are after Health Minister David Caplan, (a good chap by the way). The Conservatives can't believe Caplan did not know, CEO Sarah Kramer got a $114,000 bonus after only 5 months on the job, or that he was unaware of the contracts to the "Liberal friendly" firms.

Boy, and if he did know, he has a lot of explaining to do.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Windsor Star Cover-Up?

The Windsor Star has played a very active role in portraying the City of Windsor strike, and CUPE strikers, in a certain fashion. As I have said in the recent past, (read my post of June 1, 2009), the Windsor Star has been very hard on CUPE strikers. This stance has moderated slightly since June 1, but the damage was already done.

In today's Windsor Star print edition, on page 3, and in the lead editorial, the Star hammers Mayor Francis, for his handling of City Council members post retirement benefits. As a brief explanation, City Council members receive post retirement benefits, but not many really get to collect. No post retirement benefits, for any city hall workers, hired after January 1, 2009, is the mantra. That is what this 9-week-old and very bitter strike is all about. So, as you can see, there are some red faces around the City Council chamber.

To me, the most interesting part of this whole story is not Mayor Francis, but how each City Council member voted, and why. But, we will have to leave this matter for another day.

It is obvious, in my view, that this minor pummeling of Mayor Francis is more for the Star's benefit than anything else. Now the Windsor Star folks can defend themselves over any accusation of unfair and biased reporting during this strike. You could call this move, a fake to the left.

I wonder, does Windsor Star assistant chief honcho Marty Beneteau really think this little cover-up will fool readers?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Biz X Magazine the Playground of Halberstadt

Windsor City Councillor Alan Halberstadt has, for some time, published stories on the pages of Windsor-based Biz X Magazine. In fact, he says on his City of Windsor webpage, that he "writes the feature column and freelances for Biz X Magazine". The councillor continues to do so. It also looks like he contributes to the page titled "Around Town".

A lot of the stuff Halberstadt writes about is really information and/or his take on "Council business". In the recent past, he has even written about some of his "council travel". If this travel is paid for by the grateful taxpayers of Windsor, Halberstadt in my view, should disclose this fact.

Halberstadt should also fully disclose his financial relationship, if any, with Biz X Magazine.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Canadian Sacrifice in Afghanistan

We must not forget our men and women in the military, who are engaged, in a very dangerous mission in Afghanistan.

On Sunday, June 14th we learned of the death of Cpl. Martin Dube, 35, we know his sacrifice saved the lives of others.

Canada, has and continues to pay a big price, both in $$$$ and in blood, as we to do more than our share in Afghanistan.

See my post of April 30, 2009.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Historic Win for Nova Scotia NDP

The New Democratic Party in Nova Scotia has won a majority government. After a decade of Progressive Conservative rule, the voters made the big switch. Liberals barely formed the official opposition while the PC's fell to third place.

The campaign, which officially began on May 5, was precipitated by opposition MLAs voting down a finance bill. This vote caused the fall of the minority Progressive Conservative government.

The Conservatives wanted to spend $260 million, on roads, schools and infrastructure, instead of putting the money toward the province's $12-billion debt as required by law. Progressive Conservative Leader Rodney MacDonald gambled and lost.

Since the start of the "Great Recession" we have had two provincial elections in Canada. The Liberal government in British Columbia, re-elected. The Progressive Conservative government in Nova Scotia, defeated.

Although there have been noteable exceptions, I believe, there are two common circumstances, which cause the defeat of governments. Length of time in office, and the economy. The economy translates for regular folks, as the unemployment rate.

Does this theory hold up for B.C. and Nova Scotia? Does there appear to be a threshold? You be the judge.
  • B.C. Liberals in power for eight years and re-elected
  • Nova Scotia PC's in power for ten years and defeated
  • B.C.unemployment rate is 7.6%
  • Nova Scotia unemployment rate 8.9%.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why is the Windsor Star Outsourcing Important Stories?

Are reporters from the local Windsor Star newspaper on strike? No, they are not. Just to make sure, I drove by the Windsor Star headquarters on Ferry St. and all was well.

However, what made me ask the question, was simple. This past week, two big front page stories, about two very important events. One was the resignation of "eHealth Ontario" CEO, Sarah Kramer. Read my post. And the second event, was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Fiat takeover of Chrysler (read my post of yesterday).

Both of these stories were covered by the Windsor Star, but not by Windsor Star reporters. The coverage was outsourced, so to speak.

Ok, you may be able to justify the Windsor Star coverage on the eHealth Ontario scandal since the story was written by Kristy Nease, Canwest News Service. The Windsor Star being part of the CanWest Global empire. But, we do have two Liberal government cabinet ministers, from the Windsor Essex region. With eHealth Ontario being a 2 Billion dollar operation, and vital to our health services, surely it would have been in the public interest to have the local cabinet ministers comment. That sure seems like the job of local reporters.

However, in my view, there can be no justification for outsourcing the Fiat-Chrysler story. Windsor is headquarters for Chrysler Canada! The Windsor Star front page story was written by Mike Ramsey and Lizzie O'Leary of Bloomberg.

I don't know, it just seems odd.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fiat-Chrysler Deal Emerges from U.S. Supreme Court

Anyone, who reads my blog, will know how amazed I have been with the Italian car maker Fiat. No, not so much for their ability to manage a world class car operation, but for their ability to pick up a controlling stake in Chrysler for free.

On Monday June 8th, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to temporarily halt the sale of Chrysler to Fiat, after legal challenges from three Indiana pension and construction funds. Please believe me; I want this deal to get approved. The alternative is liquidation, which means there is no alternative.

What bothers me about the Fiat-Chrysler deal, is the spin. The U.S. and Canadian governments are both guilty, in my view, of not stating clearly that Fiat needs Chrysler, just as much as Chrysler needs a new and prominent partner. The spin from the Fiat folks has been just as bad. All this talk about small car technology transfer, is a little overblown.

Fiat says it will bring it's popular Fiat 500 (Cinquecento in Italian) to North America, and somehow this will help Chrysler. Have you ever seen the Cinquecento? You might be able to drive it on a golf course! And oh, where will these cars be made?

Fiat's Alfa Romeo brand, is highly regarded, and more suited to the North American Market. Again where will these cars be built? What I want to know is how Fiat plans to sell North American built Chrysler products here at home and abroad. After all, we the grateful taxpayers, have invested Billions in this effort.

One would think, our local Windsor Star newspaper, with all it's reporters and resources, could do a feature story, and get the answers to these important questions. Yes, one would think.

Anyway, Fiat has said in the past, if the deal is not done by June 15th they would walk. Surprise, surprise their tune has changed. Fiat is now willing to wait. Again, this is a good thing. But, let's be honest. Everyone just admit it. Fiat needs Chrysler.

Late breaking news from MSNBC:

"Late Tuesday, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the sale of the bulk of Chrysler LLC's assets to the Fiat Group SpA, rejecting an appeal by a trio of Indiana pension and construction funds, consumer groups and others to block the transaction."

Good luck to all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Politics of the Endless Strike

City of Windsor employees are almost into week 9 of what has been, so far, a failed strike, if you are a CUPE member. Media reports tell us there is one, and only one, issue dividing the Windsor City Council, and the striking employees. That issue is, post retirement benefits, for anyone hired after January 1, 2009. To have or not to have, that is the big question.

Over the past week, a major crack in solidarity, has been exposed at Windsor City Council. Council members voted, 8 to 3, against sending the outstanding issue or issues to arbitration. It has taken eight weeks, but three council members have fallen off the wagon.

This question of post retirement benefits has caused, a lot of pain, division, the demonization of city employees by the local Windsor Star newspaper, and really wonderful publicity for the city, and all the rest of us in the Essex County region. Yes we are looked at as a region especially by investors.

The City of Windsor Council says, retiree benefits are a huge unfunded liability. In truth it is very big!! Actuarial reports indicate the unfunded liability, for retiree benefits, (pensions are a separate matter) is greater than $290,000,000!! The Council maintains, hard pressed taxpayers can't afford to pay future retirement benefits, of employees it will hire after January 1, 2009.

Yet it appears the city can afford the "status quo" for all existing employees, and even offer some wage increases in spite of the "Great Recession". In very general terms, the City is offering full time employees $1,000; part time employees will get $500, over the term of the new contract.

The city's website call these increases, incentives, and states "incentive payments will be structured in a manner aimed at making them pensionable in compliance with OMERS guidelines".

The other notable thing about all this, according to the city website, is that the parties are negotiating a possible 2 year contract. If the economy improves just the slightest, will we have to do this all over again in 24 short months??

Just to re-cap for our readers:
  • CUPE Local 82 with almost 400 outside workers on strike
  • CUPE Local 543 with 1400 inside workers on strike
Why do I highlight the above? Politics, votes and more votes! People who feel they have been injured by government are highly motivated to vote. They vote, proportionately in greater numbers, than those who simply believe government did the right thing on a certain issue. In municipal elections, this is a very big deal. In the 2006 municipal elections, voter turnout in Windsor was around 38%, very low to be sure.

Large groups of voters who have been on strike, and are very angry, plus low voter turnout, equals disproportionate strength at the voting stations. This is the fault of those who don't vote of course. But that does not change the arithmetic.

I am not taking sides in this strike. I have said so several times before. I have also said, CUPE has chosen the wrong time for such a strike. I don't know who has behaved worse, CUPE leaders from out of town, or the Windsor Star. However, as promised, I am watching the politics very closely.

Don't kid yourself, there are other council members doing arithmetic, over and above the 3, that have fallen off the wagon. Just a thought, the split on city council could get bigger. And then...............

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ontario Health Minister Caplan Finally Makes a Move to Control Scandal!!

Over the last few weeks we have seen a very aggressive Ontario Conservative Party. One of their main targets, has been David Caplan, Minister of Health, for the Province of Ontario. I served in the Ontario Parliament with David's mother, Elinor Caplan, who was a very able cabinet minister. David, as well, has been a very competent minister and is an astute politician.

The source of his grief, have been the folks over at "eHealth Ontario". It seems, the CEO, Sarah Kramer, participated in awarding some of the $5 million! in untendered contracts from September 2008 to January 2009. Just a minute, I have to stop to catch my breath.

According to their website eHealth Ontario is:

"a new organization that will play the leading role in harnessing information technology and innovation to improve patient care, safety and access in support of the government’s health strategy.

We will provide a single, harmonized, coherent province-wide eHealth Strategy and align it through a single point of accountability. Our work will enable and fulfill the government’s strategic healthcare priorities."

The above is government speak. In plain English, eHealth Ontario, is mandated, to establish an electronic health records system for the province. The agency, is a very important organization to the future of our health care system. So therefore, it's management, is also very important.

The Ontario Conservatives, have alleged, these untendered contracts have gone to "Liberal Friendly Firms". Oh boy!

Ms. Kramer was hired last November (2008) at an annual salary of $380,000, according to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail through a freedom of information request. As well, documents show, in March (2009), after just 5 months on the job, Ms. Kramer was awarded a bonus of $114,000.

Somebody must have thought she was doing a good job, and did not seem to care about those untendered contracts.

The firing of Ms. Kramer may or may not be the end of this story. Ms. Kramer will receive a very generous severance package in the range of $300,000 plus. Not bad for less than 8 months on the job!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Windsor Star Owner Fails to Make Interest Payment!

I don't know, I may not have seen it? But I have looked at the front pages of the Windsor Star all week, and it just doesn't seem to be there. My apologies if I missed it.

Maybe Windsor Star reporter and "super snooper" Grace Macaluso (as you know, she is a business writer now, ohhhhhhhh boy!) did a story and it ended up on the last page of "Section F"?

But you know in the interest of Fair Play, I do think the Windsor Star should have, in a reasonably prominent way, told its readers that CanWest Global Communications Corp., owners of the the Windsor Star, missed it's $10 million interest payment.

But don't fear, I was able to get the details in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fiat Loses Bid to Takeover Opel!!

Fiat the Italian car company, has lost the bidding war for Opel, which is the General Motors operation in Europe. Although, I have from day one found it curious as to how you could win a bidding war with no money, as was the Fiat strategy! Opel, with headquarters in Germany (Ruesselsheim), is a very big deal, and employees 25,000 in Germany alone.

As those following the Chrysler saga will know; Fiat has emerged as a player on the world automotive stage. It's unique, no money down arrangement, with the United States government, to take over management, and an initial 20% stake in the new "Chrysler Group", has given Fiat new ambitions.

Part of the new ambitions included a controlling interest in Opel. Read my post of May 22/09.

The Fiat plan, was predicated on the ability to manufacture approximately 6 million cars per year, the amount needed to be a stand alone global car maker, according to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. Chrysler and Fiat together may be able to produce up to 4 million cars per year. This means Marchionne has missed his target.

The question must be asked. With Opel now in the hands of Magna (a Canadian company) and the Russian government (through Sberbank Rossii, a 60% State owned company), is the Fiat plan for Chrysler still viable?

My view, is that Fiat should move quickly. Magna does not have experience mass producing cars, and Fiat might still be able to become part of this deal. After all, Fiat has control of the new "Chrysler Group" and the support of the United States and Canadian treasury.

These recent events could have serious consequences for Canada, and the Billionsssss we have invested, courtesy of the grateful taxpayer. In Windsor Essex, which is headquarters for the Canadian operations of Chrysler, there will be consequences for sure.

Not much about this on the pages of the local Windsor Star! No, they have been too busy attacking and demonizing striking City of Windsor employees. Hey, we know whats important here in Windsor Essex.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Windsor is still a Happening Place!!

I know business is down everywhere for most enterprises; this is not news, nor is it fun. However, last Friday evening, Jo-Anne and I attended a fundraiser in support of "Transition to Betterness" at La Zingara Trattoria on Erie Street. The event, a dinner and Hugo Boss Fashion Show, was very cool.

The food, the thumping background music, the venue were all great. But most exciting was the buzz and energy from those attending, and the place was sold out!! So many young people, and some not so young, looking really hip--a very nice scene.

It was great to see and say hello to Clare and Anne Winterbottom two of Windsor's finest people. Clare was the founder, and for many years the owner, of Anchor Lamina, one of Windsor's most successful companies. He and Anne are generous philanthropists in the Windsor-Essex Region. It is always a pleasure to spend a few moments with them.

After finishing up coffee, Jo-Anne and I headed down the street to another fundraiser that was taking place. This one at Mezzo Ristorante in support of the Windsor Essex chapter of Autism Ontario. Oh man, lots of excitement here, too. The place was just packed; we could hardly get a seat.

We chatted for a while, and enjoyed the thrill of the excitement and good times around us before saying good bye and walking to our car, having had a great(!!) evening, right here in Windsor-Essex.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

General Motors the Crown Jewel in the "Great Recession"

Sometime in the future when contemplative stories are written about the brutal effects of the currently ongoing "Great Recession", one catastrophe will stand out amongst all others.

I am betting it won't be the projected $1.7 trillion deficit (the first budget delivered by Barack Obama), the collapse of Lehman Brothers, nor the collapse of the U.S. housing market. No, I am betting it will be the bankruptcy of the once largest car company in the world, General Motors.

The psychological and economic enormity of the G.M. going "Chapter 11" cannot be overestimated!!

Founded in 1908, G.M. is headquartered in downtown Detroit, Michigan, its massive headquarters omnipresent from the Windsor waterfront. General Motors by the mid-1950s was the biggest company in the United States, and the world’s single largest employer. The company sold more cars globally than anyone from 1931 to 2007. Not even the New York Yankees have a record that good. It has taken a lot of screw-ups and some really bad luck to go from top world car maker to Chapter 11. And when G.M. comes out of Chapter 11, the U.S. government will own an astonishing 70% of the new corporation.

Yes, we will look back upon the "Great Recession" and its "Crown Jewel" with understandable and profound sadness.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Windsor Star Campaign to Discredit CUPE!!! in Overdrive!!!

You know, those guys and ladies over at the Windsor Star are such phonies!

For those of you not from the Windsor Essex region, you may not understand just how much the Windsor Star folks think they can make, or drive public policy. All of this would not bother me if they would run for public office, and be subjected to a little scrutiny. But oh no! They just sit in their offices, and pretend to cover the news, when in fact they take great effort to drive the news.

News media, even the Windsor Star has a right to promote an opinion. That is why there are editorials and an editorial page. On top of this, they have opinion writers, who are given great space and privilege. In the case of the Windsor Star they have at least two, Anne Jarvis and Chris Vander Doelen. So far so good. Oh, I forgot, they even have Lazarus, I mean Gord Henderson who writes on occasion.

However the Windsor Star goes seriously off base, on a regular basis, as they, in my opinion very often send out reporters, not to do news stories, but write stuff to support editorial opinion. And then just by coincidence they give these stories lot's of very high profile space and big headlines.

A classic example, is the pounding the Windsor Star, is giving City of Windsor employees who are on strike. The Windsor Star position is so extreme that even Councillor Allan Halberstadt has read the tea leaves and strongly opposes the strikers.

I warned CUPE workers in a previous post, that circumstances were not on their side.

The Windsor Star reporting, is like we have never had a strike in Windsor before!!! Every misstep by the Union is highlighted and magnified beyond it's true relevance. The recent coverage given to the picketing in front of or near the home of Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis, the disruption at a recent city council meeting, and some incident alleging a CUPE worker dumping garbage in a park during a fit of rage (all very stupid stunts mind you) is so overblown, that it is ridiculous. Don't kid yourself, all of this is to demonize the strikers, Windsor Star style, and to fortify the weak backbones, or politically scare some councillors, who just may not agree with all that is going on.

So, as you can see, it's just not enough to take an editorial position, which is their right and duty. No they go way beyond that!! But what really bugs me is they pretend that gosh! all this just kind of happens. The Windsor Star folks take great exception to anyone suggesting this, and other such examples, is an orchestrated campaign!

Like I have said many times before, management and a few others decide these tactics at their morning meetings. Hey, all of this is ok with me, but in the interest of Fair Play, be up front about it. We know your on a campaign to discredit the strikers, just admit it. Oh, and by the way, admit to some of the damage you are doing as well.