By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – Windsor’s mayor, arguably imperial, may not be much of a negotiator. This is probably no surprise to those who follow Windsor Star editorial cartoonist Mike Graston. He practically perennially portrays Francis as a kid in short pants. This might be, and this is only speculation, Graston’s way of alerting that the mayor is wet behind the ears.
Possibly for years Graston has been trying to tell the city something, but few seemed to be paying attention or, just enjoying his work, which is often quite funny. But what has just been revealed might be what Graston has been going on about that could lead some to conclude that Francis might be somewhat of a failure at negotiating or, at best, half baked. Readers are cautioned that the word “might” is being used because Francis carefully guards any information that may tell a tale or two.
Given what has been learned, the city may be suffering much more than Francis is willing to admit. The cause for this speculation is contained in 26 words published by the Toronto Star, December 1, that has shocked a few in the once rosy city.
In a report to Council for its December 2 meeting, Windsor administrators revisited the money losing east end arena. They wrote that the, “City is responsible to cover any operating losses incurred by the events in any given year,” and reported that a deal is being sought that would result in a, “revised agreement that is mutually beneficial to both parties.”
Somehow what they proudly described as a new “win-win” deal for both the City and Global Spectrum (GS), the company which operates the arena, will have taxpayers paying about $600,000 in annual operating losses. Then, incredibly, the administrators boldly claim that, “however this been (sic) a consistent practice, not just with the City but also typically in the industry.”
Given their ability to slaughter the Queen’s English, it might have been that the civic staff were actually trying to say that this, having to pay the arena’s losses, is actually inconsistent with what is typical. Here’s the 26 words from the Toronto Star in its coverage of Markham’s plan for a new hockey arena, one of NHL proportions.
While Markham will, “own the completed arena, a US-based company called Global Spectrum would assume operations and has said it would cover any operating losses.”
Is it that Windsor’s administrators could be trying to cover up for their failure, or the mayor’s, he has his nose in everything, to negotiate by pretending that its deal is typical? As Markham and others illustrate, there seems to be no typical situation in which all municipalities are always on the hook if GS doesn’t perform.
Hamilton seems to have negotiated a better deal than Windsor for its Copp’s Coliseum. In a February 12 administrators’ note to its council, the bureaucrats commented that the city must cover the first $1.4 million in losses. The next half million is recoverable from GS.
Website yesvirginiabeach reports that GS has offered to not only take full responsibility for operating losses, but is also willing to contribute $35 million to the construction of a new arena there.
It seems that GS thinks it can do better in those cities. In fact, in a January 29 letter to Markham’s mayor, GS executive Frank Russo boasted that his company’s willingness to take responsibility for the place’s deficit is based on its, “confidence in this project and in our ability to manage a facility that will achieve outstanding results hosting concerts, sports events, special events, conventions, trade shows, and many other events.”
Why didn’t hustler mayor Francis negotiate the same kind of deal for Windsor? And why didn’t he tap GS for money to build the thing?
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