It’s been a long and interesting summer which has kept me from this blog. So back at it.
Alan Halberstadt former city councillor and a naysayer in his own right once angrily said to former mayor Eddie Francis, “Your arrogance knows no bounds.” Here we are somewhere near a decade later the same quote could be applied to Drew Dilkens. Francis was his mentor and he learned well.
A few statements which may or may not be subject to argument:
We’ve experienced two “once in one hundred year” storms in the past eleven months. There is a petition with over six thousand signatures and climbing which requests a reconsideration of the folly of a three million dollar spend on a festival of lights in Jackson Park. Dilkens put the item on the agenda at next to the last possible moment.
Was he attempting to limit constituent input on a topic he had to know would be controversial? I mean Dilkens is arrogant and self-absorbed but he’s not stupid. As I said, some things may be subject to argument.
There were severe thunderstorm warnings announced and it was raining heavily the night Dilkens and his faithful minions approved the three million dollar spend. Our mayors vote broke the 5-5 tie on the motion he presented with the usually sycophantic councillor Payne breaking ranks. Not long afterwards the good citizens of Windsor started bailing out their basements while watching priceless family belongings become floating debris.
After hearing the public outcry the best Dilkens could do was speak about cutting the festival of lights budget in half. He claimed he was listening to the taxpayers. If he had been listening a little more closely he would have understood that the greater majority want this thing cancelled entirely until we get some other priorities in order. Dilkens blames the public outrage on bad timing. He’s mistakenly assuming we weren’t already outraged at the mismanagement of our tax dollars.
The flood certainly exacerbated the anger but make no mistake mister mayor the outrage would have happened regardless. People may forget some of the follies such as presenting Michael Phelps with a bottle of whiskey that had your name on it with no mention of the City of Windsor or its citizens. They may forget the general arrogant manner in which you conduct business. They won’t forget those hours spent bailing out their basements and sorting through ruined family heirlooms in 2016.
Now the suggestion is to spend three million dollars to put on a festival of lights with predictions of three hundred thousand dollar per year operating / maintenance costs? C’mon man!
We have denied much smaller amounts of money to proven local talent such as WIFF and the farmers market. The Windsor-Essex Humane Society was bullied into accepting sub-par funding again in order to continue to provide the valuable services to our city and protect our animals. We’ve given hundreds of thousands to the Detroit Grand Prix. We have yet to hear the final F.I.N.A numbers unless I missed something. Why is the cupboard always bare until a pet project by the mayor is announced?
Dilkens was the lead on the aquatics centre which cost us eighty million dollars and is now losing three million dollars per year. Why should we believe those light festival numbers in the first place? The predictions for operating costs for the both the WFCU arena and the WIATC (aquatics centre) were exponentially inaccurate. The recent predictions about the conversion of the Pelissier parking garage were significantly in error. Delegations had just ten or eleven days to form and ready a presentation to council on the festival of lights motion.
With regard to the flooding the ever defensive Dilkens repeatedly points to what we’re already spending on infrastructure such as roads and sewers. We hear claims that no sewer system could have withstood the storms no matter how much we spend. Where are the facts and statistics to prove such audacious statements? Regardless, it doesn’t mean we can’t do much better than where we are today. We hear the proverbial can get kicked down the road to the provincial government. That is misdirection and political rhetoric. Nothing more. There is but one taxpayer pocket.
Climate change is happening. Any further denial of it by our political leadership means we need new leadership. Is it going to cost a lot to protect against future storms? Hell yes! Are we capable of building an infallible system? Absolutely not. We the taxpayers are not stupid either Drew. It’s a damn good thing no one messed with the Grand Marais ditch which is there for more than political photo-ops and talking points for rookie councillors. Get in the streets Drew. The ones you don’t usually travel. You might actually get a feel for the distrust and anger felt by so many of your constituents. Quit ignoring delegations and experts when they offer their opinion. The people are angry. I think they might even be mad enough to vote in 2018. I hope.
Dilkens has spoken about an eight point plan for flood prevention. I’ll reserve judgment as all we’ve heard are suggestions and proposals with no specifics and no numbers. I heard a councillor Francis soundbite on AM800 suggesting the consumer may get backwater valves at no charge because the subsidy would rise to one hundred percent. We’ll see. The politicians need to start speaking to experts and stakeholders before opening their collective mouths. Have facts and figures ready for us. Get the proper resources to our various city departments. Enough of telling us you’ll take care of it, patting us on the head then sending us on our way.
This isn’t about a couple of floods. We are resilient and we will rebuild. The process will be painful and slow but we will persevere. We will band together as a community as we always do in tough times. No, this is not about wet basements. This is about a decade of arrogant and self-serving politics in Windsor ON. I was born and raised here. I had hoped to die here. Now, and I mean this most seriously, I’m not so sure. I’ve heard others say the same. The sentiment from some is “leave if you don’t like it here.” Nothing but more arrogant divisive nonsense.
Is it any wonder this group voted against an independent auditor general office? Finally I ask those of you tempted to believe that those who oppose the festival of lights also oppose Christmas as well, please just don’t buy into that nonsense. It’s more of the divisive politics we’ve endured for a decade. We are not anti-Christmas. We simply demand more accountability. We demand more transparency. We demand fair involvement in the process. Our political leadership need to understand first and foremost that they work for us. They answer to us on an ongoing basis, not every four years. The money they spend is ours.
This isn’t about wet basements and lost possessions. This is about making your voice heard. Six thousand signatures on a petition was one hell of a good start. Congrats to the author of that petition, Brett Henderson.
Clearly the people wanted to be heard. Those who haven’t signed the petition can and should still do so. We need to keep the momentum.
Click Here To Sign The Petition
We need to hold this mayor and council accountable for the balance of this term and in October 2018.