Pupatello In The Clear

Sandra Pupatello.

Sandra Pupatello and WEEDC are under fire from Hilary Payne for a lack of progress on the jobs front.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Header-image-Maggio-2By Gabe Maggio

(WINDSOR, ON) – Now, I haven’t always been so kind and supportive of Sandra Pupatello over the last few years. Particularly with reference to some of my past articles. But, I call a spade a spade when I see it.

I cannot sit idly by and let City Council, in particular Hilary Payne, get off scot-free with displacing any part of Windsor’s woes onto the Windsor Essex Economic Development Commission (WEEDC). The lack of economic activity cannot be, in any fashion, placed on Pupatello and company.

Despite the popular notion that this city has held the line on taxes, the fact is that they have not held the line on anything. Instead, they have done everything possible to chase business away and put many of the businesses still left, behind the eight ball.

City Council has increased tax rates to levels that are not only uncompetitive within Ontario, they have raised the rates to levels that are not even competitive within south-western Ontario. Facts are facts and you can’t hide behind tag lines and buzz words to sell your city. Hub, cluster, tax freeze, and world stage are just a few of the catch phrases they have used that sound the alarms when someone is trying to oversell.

The greater problem is that they could not even undersell.

Even when you are selling a bargain, you still have to be honest. And again, they aren’t being honest when placing any part of Windsor’s unemployment rate problem onto WEEDC.

I do not recall any city councillor expressing any concern, in May of 2013, with Ms Pupatello holding other positions with HydroOne, Price-Waterhouse Coopers, or even Martinrea International while tacking on her new role as CEO of WEEDC. In fact, I do recall the former mayor, Francis, wanting Pupatello spending time in Toronto as that was where one needed to be to attract investment.

Pupatello’s hiring had nothing to do with her putting in a 40-hour work week. Her full portfolio is what Council wanted; her solid business relationships, including her rolodex, her inside-out knowledge of economic development in Ontario, and her ability to understand our region’s strength and opportunities.

That is what they wanted and that is what they got. But now they expect miracles when they haven’t given her a solid mound from which to pitch.

Do they have new, justified reasons for back-tracking on the position’s requirements? Or, is it simply they didn’t have the guts to raise these issues with Francis in the mayor’s chair? And now, since the unemployment rate continues to climb, they need to deflect from their own continued inaction.

Let’s look at the facts.

If this Council, or any previous Council, was so concerned with ensuring that WEEDC had all the tools and resources to move Windsor forward, they would have funded the Commission with priority.

Since 2008, WEEDC received a budget of less than 3% of total spending, on average. In some years, the budget for WEEDC was almost non-existent, considering that setting the stage for job creation should be the paramount priority.

But we understand why.

Paying down the multi-million dollar projects require pulling from anywhere and everywhere to make the pay-as-you-go scheme look genius. But, as in everything in life, someone and something has to pay the price.

And the fact is now it is WEEDC that is going to pay the price, while the city councillors continue to vote to raise taxes, development fees, and water surcharges.

But, even in all of this I can see through another charade. I may be wrong, but a hunch tells me that this is all part of another exit plan. And who better to throw mud than Councillor Payne? If it was anyone else, it wouldn’t bode well.

In any regard, whatever you do, don’t blame any of them. How dare you.