(WINDSOR, ON) – Some pundits are calling it a significant set-back and a possible return to sanity at city hall. Despite the efforts of ineffective councillor, and now interim mayor, Drew Dilkens, Windsor Council showed its first bit of gumption this decade.
Hopefully, say some elated political observers, its gumption soup time at the hall common sense avoids.
With his usual pretence of having to save money, big time spender Dilkens tried to paint the picture that the only way the city can survive is to jettison its hard working caretakers, in favour of the private sector stepping in with workers being paid possibly up to ten dollars less per hour.
Over the past year, Dilkens, and those in the Francis Council, had tried to form a coalition and succeeded in recruiting two councillors to their side. Things seemed to be going along smoothly.
With Paul Borrelli and John Elliott on board, and with the remnants of last term’s Francis Council aided and abetted by mayor-in-waiting Fred Francis, the Francis Council had the votes needed to weather any storm from the new, more compassionate group of councillors, who won voter favour in last year’s municipal election.
This was proven with a 6-5 vote that ended any thought of parental supervision entering the mix at city hall when the Francis Council sternly voted not to hire an Auditor General.
However, suddenly, and without warning, Elliott moved to the bright side and joined with the group led by the hardest working man on council Ed Sleiman, and a few of his devotees. In the end, Dilkens was bruised, but not enough to discourage him from chastising the dissenters and reminding them they all, “… committed to holding the line on taxes.”
It was a vacuous comment given Dilkens is leading the charge to drain the city’s purse dry with his pretentious $21 million swimming competition next year. It has to be held in the arena because the downtown pool he built is too small.
He is also moving forward, with ever growing cost increases, to build a new Taj Ma City Hall.
However, Dilkens may think he is moving forward. The caretaker vote, which was actually not to fire the workers but to get council approval to get a Request For Proposal going, might be the ray of sunshine many a pundit has been looking for. It could signal positive change in the city.
It could well be a take back the city by the remaining crew of non-irresponsible councillors. Their position was summed up best by Irek Kusmierczyk.
What he said at the meeting borders on being close to scandalous because it is subtle criticism of the Francis Council. He wants to take a close look at its extravagant spending.
The local paper quoted him as saying he believes the city can balance its, “… ‘budget, but the first place I would look is not the employees,’ said Coun. Irek Kusmierczyk, who listed such mayoral initiatives as sports tourism, the new city hall, the aquatic complex, the Riverside underpass as places to cut. ‘Come budget time, that’s where I would look first: those projects.’”
Polite to a fault, Kusmierczyk nonetheless made his point with near perfect timing. The Council will soon enter into setting a budget for next year and, possibly in the back of Kusmierczyk’s mind, is the fact taxes will have to start going up simply because the city has to start raising $100 million for its share of the new mega hospital.
He might be sensing, once voters figure out the city is wasting money on swimming competitions, not needed city halls – Essex fixed all the problems facing Windsor’s old doll with a $6 million upgrade – and not needed Riverside Drive underpasses, they will become increasing, and legitimately, restless.
In fact, all of the money Dilkens is spending on frivolities could easily cover the city’s share of the new hospital. It is doubtful even one of his egotistical monuments, which are really monuments to the former mayor, would even be missed.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.