Saturday, December 5, 2009

What the Hell is Wrong with Windsor? 4

There's an excellent synergy between all the stories this week - which is really neat. Well, neat in a narrative sort of way, but bad for Windsor, ultimately. Most fun is the connection between one article about insurance premiums going up. Windsor, Leamington, Essex, etc, etc are all technically corporations. So, like any corporation, you need to insure yourself against lawsuits, etc.

That being said, the insurance premiums are going WAY up and there's nothing anyone can do about it - except for put more money in the budget for overhead. The premiums are going way up because people are suing the corporations more often, and I would imagine, are successfully suing those corporations - hence the increase in premiums. And you'll see a whole lot of both of those things in this week's post.

Teen spits on bus driver

WINDSOR, Ont. -- A Windsor teen is facing an assault charge after he allegedly spat on a Transit Windsor bus driver early Sunday morning.

At about 1:30 a.m., the 54-year-old bus driver ordered two males off his bus near Tecumseh Road East and Marentette Avenue because they were harassing other passengers. As they left the bus, one of the males spat in the driver’s face. Police arrested the 18-year-old on the scene.

I guess it could be worse, in Toronto some bus driver's get shot for just being near other vehicles.

Beating victim's wife vows they'll never return to downtown
[Dec. 3]

WINDSOR, Ont. -- A woman whose husband suffered a brutal beating on Ouellette Avenue this past weekend says she’s relieved two of the teenage suspects in the assault were arrested on Wednesday — but she’s still concerned about a third suspect who remains at large.

And she’s vowing never to return to the downtown core.

“Even when I was leaving the hospital yesterday, and I had young guys walking past me, I started getting anxiety just from that,” said the woman, 24, who didn’t want her name published.

“Obviously, we’re never going to go down there anymore.… Not during the day, not during the night.”

The woman added that she doesn’t think this city is a good place to raise her two children — a one-year-old and a two-year-old. “I don’t even really want to be in Windsor.”

Boy, I wonder why she would think these things? Is it because Windsor is doing absolutely terrible? It's not that it's the Corporation of the City of Windsor, because if anything, they're responsible for the police who are the ones catching all of these assholes out there stealing, smuggling and assaulting people. It's the f-ing people in the city themselves who are behaving like this.

Just a tough spot to be in.

Sounds like Windsor needs some Highway Robbery [Dec. 3]

"47.5 % county insurance hike called 'highway robbery," ... Ahhh, nice. What do municipalities require insurance for? And why would that insurance go WAY up like this?

"There are more lawsuits against municipalities and upper tier governments, and the damage awards are higher," County administrator Brian Gregg said.

So ... people are suing more often, or the counties are making mistakes more often?

ESSEX -- A 47.5 per cent increase in insurance premiums — and that was from the low bidder — had county councillors outraged Wednesday.

“Man, that’s highway robbery,” said Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

“The increase is atrocious,” agreed Amherstburg Mayor Wayne Hurst, who added his town has been hit with a 22 per cent hike in its insurance premiums.

The lowest bid the county got came from its current insurer, the Frank Cowan Company, which was for a $673,058 overall premium for 2010, up $216,738. The highest tendered premium was just over $1 million, more than double the 2009 premium of $456,320.

Council reluctantly accepted the low bid.

County administrator Brian Gregg said he’s surveyed other counties and found Essex was at the low end of a wave of increases going around. Some are complaining of 60 per cent premium hikes, he said.

Police called on to beef up downtown foot patrols [Dec. 4]

Well, we know that the police are already over budget, but we also know that people feel as vulnerable downtown as they ever had - so to keep people interested in the downtown market, making citizens and visitors feel safe and welcome downtown is an important step.

This is a good thing, but it's an indicator of how bad things are getting / have become in the city.

WINDSOR, Ont. -- The executive director of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association called on police Thursday to beef up foot patrols in the core on Friday and Saturday nights in the wake of a brutal assault that left a male victim with serious head injuries.

“We have a consistent problem when you have large gatherings of young people who’ve had cheap liquor,” said Chris Edwards, executive director of the association.

But the police department lacks the resources to increase the number of police officers because of insufficient funding, he added. “The city’s not funding that; it’s not a priority.”

Police have arrested three men in connection with the assault Nov. 29 on a 24-year-old man, who suffered a fractured skull and a bleeding brain in the altercation that took place in the 600 block of Ouellette Avenue, just south of Wyandotte Street. The man was apparently kicked in the head while laying on the ground, according to Sgt. Brett Corey, spokesman for Windsor Police Service.

Again, it's good to see more foot patrols for the safety of everyone - but it's bad that it's necessary, and it's doubly bad that there's no room in the budget for what the city really needs.

Council demands meeting with bridge over derelict houses [Dec. 4]
This sounds a bit more proactive than it really is, though The Star is making it seem like Council is in some way "standing up to" the Ambassador Bridge Company. We know from last week's Windsor update that a committee of concerned citizens lobbied council to learn more about the situation - and last week it wasn't put on the agenda, but was put on this week's agenda.

So basically, this is an item on the agenda that was motioned for - hardly a "demand" to confront anyone. But, spin is spin, right?

WINDSOR, Ont. -- Mayor Eddie Francis has warned the Ambassador Bridge company to meet with council “forthwith” and state its plans for the homes it has bought and left vacant on Windsor’s west side, or the city will take action.

“The abandoned condition of these houses has had a destabilizing effect on the neighbourhood. Another term that comes to mind is ‘blockbusting.’ This is unacceptable,” Francis wrote in a four-page letter sent Thursday to Detroit International Bridge Company president Dan Stamper.

The bridge company has been given until Dec. 16 to agree to meet with council by mid-January and present its plans. If the ultimatum is ignored — as has been the case with several previous council invitations — council “will need to consider its own initiatives,” the letter says.

Should the bridge snub the invite, the city has “a number of options available to us,” said Francis. But he refuses to divulge what those might be, saying he doesn’t want to tip the bridge company off.

Right, because Mayor Francis is sneaky and underhanded - he's got all kinds of tricky things he can do to the Bridge Company, that he doesn't want them to know about. What it really sounds like is that they have basically options that have no teeth - and they don't want to appear as impotent to the situation as they are, because the press would realize it immediately.

London developer eyes downtown core [Dec. 5]

This sounds like a good thing, but I'll explain why there should be concerns in a moment.

Windsor's battered downtown is getting a much-needed vote of confidence from larger-than-life London developer Shmuel Farhi, who has been opening his wallet to scoop up properties here and hopes to make an announcement in February of his plans for the core area.

"I don't want to say too much much right now. But it's going to be good news," said the former Israeli soldier whose Farhi Holdings Corp. owns and manages four million square feet of office, retail, industrial and residential space across Ontario, including a significant chunk of downtown London.

I wrote an article on the Windsor Canal project (whatever happened to that?) a while back and Fahri was present at the announcement and pledged a bunch of cash right then and there to fund the feasibility study (now that I think of it, that might have been "staged"). So I started looking into Fahri, who does own a tremendous amount of land and is a famous investor/developer in southern Ontario. As far as I can tell, he seems like a good guy, too.

But like anyone with millions of dollars in real estate and so much control over what can happen with that much property - he can literally hold the downtown core hostage if he wanted to. I can't be sure, but I think he's leaving (or was leaving) big chunks of downtown London undeveloped just to spite their city council because they had a disagreement. Good for him, to be honest, fight against whomever is trying to tell you what to do. Just don't be surprised if he starts using his wealth and investments as leverage against the city if they ever disappoint him. He could just as easily board everything up (Just like the Ambassador Bridge Company) and let the place rot if he cared to. And we all know how much Windsor seems to like what the Bridge is doing ...

Lawsuit mulled over vacant homes [Dec. 5]

So, right on subject, how is Windsor City Council going to actually get the Bridge Company to present their intentions with the west end properties? Here are some thoughts on the matter:

Mayor Eddie Francis was “provocative” and acted in bad faith when he issued an ultimatum Thursday to the Ambassador Bridge company to advise council of its intentions for more than 100 homes acquired in Olde Sandwich Towne or face unspecified action by the city, according to a group representing residents in the area.

By not simply giving the bridge company permission to tear down the vacant homes — which have become ugly, boarded-up eyesores — “the city is exposing itself to action for damages,” Ray Colautti, a lawyer retained by area residents, told reporters Friday. He said the group is “considering our legal options,” including a civil suit against the city for damages due to lowered property values.

Monday’s council meeting “is the last shot for a peaceful solution,” said Hilary Payne, a leader of the Boarded Up Houses Demolition Group.

The group on Friday reversed a decision made public 24 hours earlier to not show up at city hall. Payne said the earlier decision came after a suggestion had been put forward to attempt mediation between the parties, an effort he claims was sabotaged by the mayor’s letter.

As of Friday, 17 delegations were registered to address city council on the matter.

“The city is well aware of what the bridge wants to do,” said Colautti, namely razing the homes it owns and then creating a “green corridor.”

Payne, who said the bridge company currently owns 107 homes in the area, said the neighbourhood wants the homes demolished. He claims there is “no basis in law” for the city to demand to know what the owner’s future plans are.

The Bridge PLANNED for property value to drop, that's what they WANT, so they can buy the rest of it even cheaper than what they bought the first 100 homes for. Then they tear the place down and twin the bridge. This isn't a mystery to anyone - and having the houses torn down is the next step.

Suing the city to get your money back because of a drop in property value doesn't matter - frankly, they should have sold when they had the chance. Property is just like the stock market (usually it goes up) but you'd HAVE to know what was happening to your neighbourhood and take the appropriate action. I can't imagine you can sue the city in this instance, can you?

What else can you sue the city for?

City sued for not having sidewalks on both sides of road [Dec. 5]

Really? How about suing them for not snow-plowing your street? That was my major beef when I lived down there.

The City of Windsor’s failure to place a sidewalk on both sides of an east end road has put it in the crosshairs of a $12.8-million lawsuit.

Mohammed Abed, 19, was only weeks away from entering engineering school at Wayne State University in Detroit when he was struck by a stolen SUV driven by a 21-year-old man whose licence was under suspension.

The accident left Abed a paraplegic.

The driver, Michael Dorakofski, pleaded guilty in Superior Court in April to criminal negligence causing bodily harm, plus theft and breach of probation. He was sentenced to three years in penitentiary.

Dorakofski driver’s licence had been suspended for unpaid tickets, and a night of drinking had preceded the hit-and-run accident, the criminal court was told.

Given Dorakofski’s admissions in criminal court how does the City of Windsor end up as one of the defendants in the civil lawsuit?

Abed’s lawyer Greg Monforton said Greenpark Boulevard has sidewalks on only one side of the road.

When Abed stepped off the curb in the early morning of Aug. 25, 2007, he was trying to reach the sidewalk on the other side of the road, Monforton said. The firm’s analysis of the city’s own development standards and traffic patterns suggested Greenpark Boulevard should have had sidewalks on both sides of the road, Monforton says.

If the city is found even one per cent liable in the accident, it could be on the hook for much of the $12.8-million claim if other parties also found responsible can’t pay their share.

“We consider the City of Windsor to be a significant defendant,” Monforton said.

Had a sidewalk been there, Abed wouldn’t have crossed the road and been at risk, the lawyer said.

Wow - I simply didn't think you could do that. In America, for sure, but here in Canada? You can blame the city for some guy who stole a car and drove it into a pedestrian? Only in Windsor, folks.

I should sue the city for rain getting on my car, too. I guess this is why those insurance premiums are so high!!

Well, at least Windsor has received $3.5 stimulus grant from the federal stimulus package. They could send that directly to Greg Monforton, I guess.

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