It’s Been Quite A Year


 

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Lots of stories about lots of different topics. I trust that I and my colleagues at the Windsor Square have kept you interested, informed and even amused at times by our daily jottings.

We trust that we have given you a different perspective on the news from that of the traditional media in the Region.

We look forward to providing you with expanded coverage of different topics. As an example, look at the top right of our Front Page and you will see our new “sports” section. Just click on the box and it will take you to a new part of our website.

However, there are still stories to cover before 2015 begins. Here are some of them.

BE VERY WORRIED

Pshaw, who cares what the Auditor General says when there  is taxpayer  money to be wasted.  The propaganda for municipal P3 is coming out fast and furious. Here’s another story:

“Bundling two Saskatoon bridge projects—construction of the North Commuter Parkway Bridge and replacement of the Traffic Bridge — into a single contract under a public-private partnership (P3) is delivering both projects where no progress had been made on either bridge alone. It’s part of the brave new world of municipal P3s encouraged by both federal and provincial governments…

Mayor Donald J. Atchison, City of Saskatoon, notes that the $250-million bundled bridge project is the first of its kind in Canada.

“If we’d tried to build one bridge or the other bridge separately, it wouldn’t have worked,” he says.

“One bridge is in the north end and the other one is right downtown. Politicians being politicians, we bundled them together so that everyone had an opportunity to say whether they wanted a project for their neighbourhood or not.”

Not only did city council overwhelmingly support the bundled project, but as a larger P3 project, the city was able to access $50 million in provincial funding and $66 million in federal funding.

Mayor Jeff Lehman, City of Barrie and chair, Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, says that bundling can be leveraged across jurisdictions to create the next wave of municipal P3s.

“It adds some governance complexity for municipalities to work together on a P3 project, but bundling projects across municipal boundaries should be one of our next frontiers,” he says.

“I’ve had some high level meetings with Infrastructure Ontario and I think there are opportunities around shared projects, such as bundling highway infrastructure, that blend a municipal asset and a provincial asset.” (Peter Kenter Daily Commercial News December 8, 2014)

Why do these people try so hard to make foreign P3 companies rich at the expense of taxpayers? That is a question that needs answering.

More than that, why not screw local contractors too while the politicians are at it:

“Scoring P3 bids for a “local knowledge” component, however, remains a contentious issue, in some cases eliminating otherwise qualified bidders from competition.

“It creates a lot of divisiveness,” says Atchison. “In the end it is local preference, not local knowledge. If someone gets squeezed out from another area of Canada over that particular item, you actually end up setting trade barriers.”

Woodside says he’s been approached to include local knowledge clauses into procurement documents, but has rejected the idea.”

They just don’t care!

THE NEXT SUBPRIME MORTGAGE-TYPE FINANCIAL DISASTER

I have already talked about the problems that pension plans have with respect to pension plan deficiencies and how P3s are one way that Governments can sneakily help minimize those deficiencies by paying out outrageous sums in availability payments.

However, here is the next financial disaster that will capture the headlines and will have an impact in our area because of the automobile industry:

“And that led to another kind of debt: A car loan. That loan will now take him another seven years to pay off. When it’s finally done, the now 42-year-old will have paid $55,000 for a 2014 Nissan Altima that would have cost him $18,000 if he’d just bought it outright.

Mr. Connolly is among a growing number of people who are finding themselves financing car purchases by rolling old debt — student loans, credit card bills, previous car loans — into new car debt, and taking advantage of a thriving business for financial institutions that have extended amortization periods for as long as 96 months.

The cycle of refinancing reinforces a debt treadmill cycle

Spurred by tantalizingly low interest rates, sweeteners like stretched out loan timelines, and increasingly confident consumers who worship their wheels, car debt has been growing at a phenomenal pace in recent years — faster than any segment of the credit market. Even more incredibly, car loans for more than the value of the vehicle have become commonplace. A debt-rating agency noted recently that in some cases consumers are borrowing up to 135% of the value of a vehicle. These “negative equity” loans, as they’re called, are the same sort that permeated the U.S. mortgage market before it collapsed in 2008.” (Garry Marr and Barbara Shecter Financial Post November 22, 2014)

THERE GO THE RESERVES

What kind of a reduction are they taking with situations like this:

—-“The City of Windsor is taking a $300,000 hit from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

Reidel says the city anticipated this loss months ago, and has been able to build it into its 2015 budget ” (Mike Vlasveld BlackburnNews November 23, 2014)

—-“The City of Windsor and local school boards must pay back Chrysler Canada $8 million, one of the largest tax rebates in the city’s history, thanks to a significantly reduced property assessment.

“It’s definitely one of the bigger amounts we’ve ever had to refund,” city treasurer Onorio Colucci said Monday…

In order to minimize the effect of reduced assessments, the city has over time built up a reserve fund. But the fund, currently at $12.8 million, will be chopped by almost two-thirds courtesy of just one assessment reduction.” (Craig Pearson  Windsor Star December 8, 2014)

THE AMERICANS HAVE LITTLE INTEREST IN OUR BORDER CROSSING

More and more evidence is piling up that President Obama has very little interest in the Windsor/Detroit border crossing. Here is more confirmation of that:

“The current Department of Homeland Security funding calls for an additional 1,000 Border Patrol agents on the U.S.-Mexican border, 50 more at the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, and 20 at the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron. Those bridges represent two of the busiest Northern border crossings in the nation.” (Chad Selweski Macomb Daily November 21, 2014)

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About the Author

Ed Arditti

Ed Arditti is a retired lawyer and living in Tecumseh, Ontario.

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