Weeknote 8 2021

For all you nerds out there: each section of my weeknote has anchor tags for your link sharing needs. I have a lot of smaller sections this week: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

§1 Windsor’s lack of ambition suggests a state of decadence

My colleague Ross Douthat — you may know him — he’s argued that we live in a decadent age. And decadence here is this pathology that comes from a mixture of affluence — so things are pretty good for a lot of people — and lack of purpose, a lack of grand ideological goals and ambitions. And when you put those together in a society, you stagnate. You’re not driving in any particular direction, and there’s a lot of force behind the status quo that shuts down anybody who wants to really change things. I’ve been thinking about this politically quite a bit. We are still running, here in this country, on the fumes of political ideas from the 18th century.

Ezra Klein, “A Radical Proposal for True Democracy“, New York Times, February 23 2021

§2 Speaking of the status quo…

The Mayor’s “0% Overall Property Tax Levy Increase” budget was largely accepted as is at the February 22nd City Council Meeting. City Councillors could have pushed back on this budget but opted not to and in doing so, lost control of $5 million future dollars to the Mayor’s office and much of their future leverage and ability to shape The City of Windsor’s economic strategy. As mentioned last week, before the meeting one councillor made the case for the community investments we could have made from just a 1% tax increase. So let’s not forget that there was an alternative on the table, and the mushy middle of Windsor city council chose not to take it.

For more post-budget review, Sarah Mushtaq has written about the budget in The Windsor Star and also shared her insights on Wednesday’s Rose City Politics podcast.

If this city council doesn’t find a global pandemic, a climate emergency, one of the largest civil rights movements in the world, and an opioid crisis as sufficient reason to increase our social services and infrastructure to better protect the most vulnerable members* of our community, then I’m not sure what it’s going to take.

It is almost as if our existing political structure exists only to maintain the status quo at all costs.

* not the golfers of Roseland

§3 Don’t tell Toronto

I’m on TikTok and it pleases me that TikTok’s algo knows me well enough to serve me Toronto content. That’s how I found out about the Don’t Tell Toronto recruitment campaign from London, Ontario.

The Don’t Tell Toronto site is from the London Economic Development Corporation who has a website that is about 100x better than the Windsor Economic Development Corporation’s.

§4 GC Notify

The Windsor Essex Health Unit has started Targeted Vaccination Clinic Pre-Registration for those 80+ in our community. A colleague of mine noticed from the URL of the sign up form, that the sign up site is being hosted by The University of Windsor. I’m not sure how that arrangement was made, but I’m glad my workplace was able to help out this way.

Of course, the Province should have known that a vaccination registration website would be an eventual necessity that they could have been preparing for over the last twelve months. The province’s registration website is supposed to go live March 15th. This is the same week of the mass roll-out of vaccines begins which is why some health units are creating pre-registration sites.

It didn’t have to be this way. Imagine that there was a government agency that could develop modern agile websites and applications with civic values such as privacy and government policies around language, built in. Then those apps could be used by a variety of different levels of government.

And, we already have that. Its the Canadian Digital Service.

The CDS just released in beta its own text notification system called GC Notify. Its a system that I believe our public health unit could use for free to notify residents of important updates over text.

Since introducing the GC Notify tool in 2019, we’ve helped government departments send over 8.8 million notifications. After developing a first version of the service and improving the ways it meets people’s needs, we’d like to announce that GC Notify has officially moved from the Alpha to Beta phase, meaning its more stable, reliable and secure than ever before. 

We’re grateful to the government teams that adopted and tested GC Notify to help us improve the service in our journey towards Beta. With their help, we’ve supported departments like Health Canada in sending COVID-19 related updates to Canadians, and Service Canada in sending email confirmations to improve people’s experiences with Canada.ca. Most recently, we had the honour of working with the Government of Nova Scotia, helping their team send text updates to Nova Scotians about their appointment statuses to manage physical distancing during COVID-19. 

Our hope is that the added features and improvements that come with Beta will encourage more teams, at the provincial and federal levels of government, to join Health Canada, Service Canada, and the Government of Nova Scotia, in incorporating GC Notify into their services.

The Ontario government sole-sourced a contract to Deloitte Consulting to support its COVID-19 vaccination program. Shortly after that February 11th news story, there was an announcement that Deloitte’s Windsor operations were acquired by MNP.

§5 Amherstburg Snow Removal of Sidewalks

Instead of constantly begging for citizens to become snow angels, would it not be a better use of time and energy to have the City of Windsor to follow Amherstburg’s lead and buy and make use of sidewalk snow removal machines? Even if we used it strategically, would it not greatly improve the quality of life for our neighbours who need clear sidewalks?

§6 WindsorDNA Fireside Chats

Matt Wachna and Sarah Cipkar have been hosting WindsorDNA (The Windsor Downtown Neighbourhood Alliance) Fireside Chats on Facebook. While three of their latest chats are available on YouTube, their most recent fireside chat with Leonardo Manuel, the Project Manager for this region’s Community Safety and Well-being Plan (CSWB) is still just available on Facebook. They bring a welcome perspective on the good work people are doing to make our city better.

§7 The Electric Line

I noted with interest that Hydro One is in the process of planning for a new high-voltage power line that will connect a transmission station just outside Chatham with one being built just outside of Comber.

https://smartcdn.prod.postmedia.digital/windsorstar/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/route_2a_map_260049511-w-e1614298579599.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=1128&type=webp

I am paying particular interest to all things Hydro because I’m hoping to do a social distanced Jane’s Walk this May dedicated to telling a story about our electric grid through maps. Organized locally by Sarah Morris, Jane’s Walks are one of my favourite events because they allow anyone who cares about their community to show others what they hold as worth caring for. You should think about doing one and let Sarah know your plan.

§8 A Mutual Aid Plan in Essex

When Texas went without power, I became curious about our own region’s emergency plans. I went digging and was delighted to find out that the Essex County Mutual Aid Plan exists.

There are plenty of folks, like myself, who are looking at the mess around us, imagining the mess to come, and are looking to alternatives to our current political stagnation. Many are looking towards learning from Mutualism and Mutual Aid.

From Reading Mutualism: A contemplation after Medium Design from Keller Easterling, author of Medium Design:

As the book attempts to expose the myth of solutions, it learns from James C. Scott’s Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Scott argues that “imperialist” high modernist planning schemes around the world—from those of Le Corbusier to Vladimir Lenin—failed in part because they did not incorporate mêtis, the practical flexible systems of knowledge that stand in contrast to “formal deductive, epistemic” knowledge. Scott endorses “mutualism” as expressed by anarchist writers like Peter Kropotkin, Mikhail Bakunin, Errico Malatesta, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon [1]. Kropotkin’s essay of 1902 and book of 1914, both titled Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, studied forms of cooperation and reciprocity among communities of humans and animals—from tribes, clans, guilds and unions to elephant societies and swarming bees or butterflies. 

Maybe Medium Design should have taken the opportunity to imagine an alternative history in which the temperament of Mutual Aid was more influential than the organizations and temperaments of political moves on both sides of the political spectrum—movements often squaring off in a competitive binary of enemies and innocents that is doomed to reproduce the worst and most violent defaults of the modern Enlightenment mind. (Try gently suggesting this possibility to any ultra-orthodox political thinker. Their response will help to make the point.)

§9 Why the City of Windsor should adopt Service Design

The March 8 2021 City Council Agenda is out and it clocks in at a mere 285 pages.

As someone who has organized events in the past, I was particularly interested in Item 7.3, the answer to this council question:

The following Council Question was asked at the February 25, 2019 meeting of City Council: “CQ4-2019: Asks that administration consider options to streamline the process to help with street closures looking at all options including efficiencies that can lead to lowering administrative time and costs while still allowing timely processing of applications. Please consider fees in the schedule as well as barricade rentals and Fire Department fees.”

The process for a street closure currently takes four weeks.

The answer to this question highlights how many necessary administrative hurdles across many administrative departments a single request from a resident has to pass through in order for an approval to be made.

It suggests to me that the City of Windsor would do well to formally adopt a Service Design process so that all services the city provides can be improved.

Weeknote 7 (2021)

Monday at 10am begins the special meeting of City Council to deliberate on the 2021 Budget. For a proper breakdown, I strongly recommend reading Frazier Father’s post on what he found notable from it.

§1 When progress meant more money for education than police

There was a time in which the City of Windsor would publish Progress Reports. Here’s a chart from Windsor Ontario Reports 1967-1968 Pride in Progress [pdf].

Look how much our budget used to go towards education. Look how little towards police.

In this year’s proposed budget, the city no longer has to pay out $10 million dollars due to a provincial reduction of its Education Levy. This has been touted as good news for the City of Windsor budget, but this is still terrible news for our school systems which are already underfunded. I’m guessing this is the result of the Ford Government cutting the Business Education Tax in 2020.

In the proposed budget, while many other city departments have been asked to make cuts, the Windsor Police Board has been marked down for 1.9% increase in their budget.

For context, here’s how much the Windsor Police Services Budget has grown over the two terms of our Mayor. In 2014, the WPS budget was $20 million smaller.

§2 Why couldn’t residents make budget recommendations before it was drafted?

On Friday, a small group of us had a conversation that touched on the very matter above and I’m sorry but it wasn’t recorded so you are going to have to make my word from it that it was good and I learned a lot from it.

For this chat I made some slides for my own contribution to the conversation which was to ask the question of how we might have more resident participation in the budget:

§3 Windsor Works GO BRR

Sometime near the end of the marathon City Council session when the Windsor Works economic development plan was being presented and discussed, the Mayor said something very curious. He said that the city’s previous and contentious $50,000 sponsorship of the Belle Island Grand Prix should be seen as an investment in our economic development.

To my mind, the Mayor’s comments only lend to my fears that proposed funding of $550,000 for the Windsor Works strategy is not going to be used effectively. I’m also concerned that there are some sizable asks for capital funding ($500K in 2021, $1M in 2022, $1M 2023, $3M in 2030) for the strategy with no indication of what those capital funds will be for. Seriously, what is being funded here?

Oh and look at that. There is $200,000 for a City of Windsor Anti-Racism initiative. That should do it.

Has anyone else noticed how little new Central Library has been mentioned as of late? It wasn’t mentioned as an anchor for future activity in the downtown in the Windsor Works Strategy. WPL’s potential to help support economic development throughout the city was never recognized (other library systems like TPL do extensive work in this space). I haven’t scoured the budget documents to see where is the funding for new Central Branch of the Windsor Public Library but I haven’t found it yet 🙁

§4 Councillor Bortolin: Charting a Vision for our Recovery

On February 19th, City Councillor Rino Bortolin published a Facebook post that suggests where $500,000 in the budget could be better spent:

Here’s a brief excerpt:

You may read the comments above and wonder how I can support adding two outreach workers, a new transit line and money for climate change mitigation while not increasing taxes? The expenses noted above equate to roughly $500k. Keep in mind that the Mayor used the term “nice to haves” when describing why he couldn’t support the new transit line implementation. While these are considered ‘nice to haves’ the following items were included and funded in the budget and approved by administration:

– Windsor Police budget increase of $1.7M
– Windsor Works Ec Dev funding to be situated in the Mayor’s office of $550k
– Roseland Golf – New Clubhouse – $4.3M
– Previously approved Celestial Beacon Project – $7M
– Bright Lights Operating Budget – $600k

There are more examples of course but these are more than enough to illustrate the point I made in the opening paragraph. This budget isn’t about the final number, it’s about charting our priorities

I strongly support Councillor Bortolin’s recommendations and I commend him for putting this alternative forward for both council and public consideration before Monday.

§5 All the COVID-19 bad news in one chart

Weeknote 6, 2021

I’m going to break from tradition a bit and recap bearing witness to the muderclowns handling our pandemic to the end of this post because I’m going to try to make this weekly update a little less of a downer.

§1 Is my voice “diverse”?

This City of Windsor press release headline that makes me cringe: “Windsor-Essex Seeks Diverse Voices for Community Safety and Well-Being Plan with New Survey and Public Meetings.” The headline needs some copy-editing.

These complaints are all, on some level, about something ineffable. They refer to a feeling—the feeling that a term that once stood for an important and radical idea has become an empty buzzword, or even a deceitful one. You can see the evidence to back up this impression in a related and subtly unsettling linguistic trend toward using “diverse” to describe individuals.

In the press release announcing changes in response to the outcry over the fact that all 20 Oscar-nominated actors were white for the second year in a row, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences said that its board was committed to “doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.” Doubling the number of diverse members. The Academy didn’t say in that sentence that it wanted its membership to be more diverse. It said it wanted a higher number of diverse members. Which implies that a sole human can be “diverse.”

A Person Can’t Be ‘Diverse’: Why advocates are backing away from a theoretically helpful term that’s being misused in ways big and small, Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, January 26, 2016

I previous wrote about how other cities were reaching out to their residents for their Community Safety and Well-Being plan in Weeknote 3.

The survey itself can be found online and there will be a virtual community consultation on February 23rd.

This is the first survey from the city that asked me about gangs which I found very curious.

My gang.

There is a single question of whether you trust the police and while there are several questions asking about one’s particular community, there are no questions to measure discrimination or systematic racism.

§2 The Windsor Police Incident

Speaking of the police, I think the Windsor Police Incident Dashboard can be cited as a example of a map being used to obscure data. The place of an incident is key and so the map is good in this regard. But what the map lacks are services around time: there is no RSS feed available for the information to be presented, no way to create an alert, and there’s no way to export information. It’s not bad. But its not good.

My confidence in this map isn’t great because several weeks ago the WPS sent a SWAT team to a house on my block and I cannot see an incident in my neighbourhood that would explain why I saw what I saw.

§3 Links

While I was looking for more WPS stats, I checked in with the lovely Windsor Open Data Catalogue and because I was curious, I checked out the top Website pages of the City of Windsor site. That’s how I found the links page that the City of Windsor employers use:

§4 Retaining talent vs Building community

I think it says something that the most popular post I’ve ever written on this blog was a rant that I wrote out of pure frustration with the City of Windsor.

As the poet laureate of the perpetually disappointed, let me tell you that I find the phrase ‘Talent retention’ bloodless and uninspiring.

To view the city as a talent pool is to see the city from the point of view as if you are a corporation.

We are not corporations. When we walk around a vibrant and joyful street festival in Montreal, we do not remark on how much talent is retained.

I recognize that I haven’t done enough of articulating the future I want on this blog.

To that end, I’d like to draw your attention to this presentation by Strategy Designer Dan Hill at the Viable Cities Strategy Day conference that I learned of from Sara Hendren.

There are so many videos of fantastical future cities out there but I want to bring your attention to this one, because I think Hill provides a realistic process of how a street in Windsor could be economically revitalized. In other words, Hill demonstrates how a street can retain storm-water AND talent.

You can start at this point if you just see that part.

That being said, I really do hope you watch the whole talk because Hill makes a very important point: we need cities to ask and answer questions, not just absorb technology.

A case in point:

Compare the statement above with this text from Windsor Works document:

§5 The City of Windsor’s Power Gap

I didn’t see much of a local response to Robyn Doolittle’s PowerGap investigative reporting in The Globe and Mail, so I will duly note it here,

The PowerGap survey suggests that The City of Windsor is baking in years of gender inequity in its employment cohort.

§6 Politics is not a great system for delivering democracy

I enjoyed this episode of The Agenda dedicated to Polarizing Politics, Canadian Style.

I’m on Team Susan Delacourt.

§7 Meanwhile in Ontario…

And here’s a tweet thread from the Ontario Hospital Association President & CEO:

And yet, the Windsor Regional Hospital chief of staff went on record to describe the province’s opening plans as reasonable. This feels suss to me.

Will Windsor Works Work?

The City of Windsor’s Economic Development Strategy passed last Monday and of course it did because who could be against improving economic development?

As we wait to see what form the Special Delivery Unit that will implement the Strategy will take, I want to bring to your attention this thread from Melinda Munro who suggests that a lobbying registry should be associated with the delivery vehicle:

The other point that I want to raise before I put this particular issue to bed is the very odd choice of Public First to develop our economic strategy in the first place. As others have duly noted, the consulting group has strong ties to the Conservative Party in England… to the point of writing their manifesto.

The resulting Economic Development Strategy developed had a multitude of recommendations that suggest more collaboration with Detroit. And yet, when the City of Detroit pursued its own strategy of economic development, they worked with Project for Public Spaces to successfully revitalize their downtown core:

We have all seen downtown Detroit grow and flourish almost beyond recognition. And yet, rather than use PPS — the obvious partner for us, the City of Windsor opted for an Public First instead. Why?

Maybe it’s because our UK consultants wouldn’t recognize their prescription to appeal for American offices to set up shop in Windsor, is our problem and not the solution:

And from: Tech Connect: An Initiative to Support the Windsor-Essex Tech Sector by WEtech Alliance, January 31, 2020, by Dr. Victoria Abboud, Tech Talent Strategist Yvonne Pilon, CEO WEtech Alliance:

It appears to me that rather than draw on the expertise of our existing economic development professionals, our existing three technology and business incubators, and respond to the needs of our existing small business owners in our local BIAs, the Mayor’s office commissioned a communications firm to package and affirm economic development work that their office was already doing as well as make further recommendations that were consistent with a politically conservative ideology.

I mean, how else could you ensure that you would get an economic strategy that would consider improving social services as out of their remit?

I mean, if we wanted an arms-length economic strategy, why didn’t the City of Windsor commission an actual UK economic development strategy org instead?

ht Frazier Fathers for this video

Let’s talk about the future we want:

Weeknote 5, 2021

§1 The Third Wave

I don’t put too much energy into making predictions but it is becoming increasingly clear to me that we are going to be hit with a third wave of COVID-19 in the spring and early summer and it’s going to be brutal.

It is difficult to see any other outcome when much more virulent strains are appearing at the same time when Conservative-backers are losing patience with lock-downs and closed schools and when we have a Conservative government that is reluctant to use any other interventions that is within its authority, such as sick days or pausing non-essential construction because they can’t get over sunk costs.

We also have a premiere who goes out of his way to punish educators.

Schools contribute considerably to community spread. In winter months, children need to eat their meals inside with their masks off. The Ontario government said it had the backing of province’s medical officers of health to reopen schools, but never showed them the plan. Whether you ascribe it to ineptitude or malice, the lives of educators are going to be put at risk.

To me, this can only be described as a moral failure:

It may sound harsh, but with respect to the Canadian response to COVID19, I find it difficult to think of any greater moral wrong that has been so obviously committed in such a short period of time in living memory in this country. Certainly there have been individual and collective acts of decency that are worthy of admiration. But following Camus’ thought experiment, I cannot imagine any clear argument in favour of the overall decency in any of this (or I would love to hear it, anyways). If ethical action in a pandemic is common decency, then we have failed.

A failure of common decency: Pandemic exposes our ugly side, Jon Parsons, Ricochet, February 3, 2021

§2 The Mayor First

For reasons I cannot explain, I keep seeing this adorable video on Twitter from the Economic Development office … of Winnipeg.

What does it say that their video speaks more strongly about the importance of improved social conditions than Windsor’s Economic Development Strategy which is going to council on Monday?

The delegation list is quite the line-up. Some are clearly there for support while others suggest a Why Was I Not Consulted vibe.

  • Patti France, President, St. Clair College
  • Caroline Hughes, VP Government Relations, Ford of Canada
  • Brian Kingston, President of Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association
  • Mike Pilato, President, Jamieson Canada on behalf of Jamieson Wellness
  • Dr. Rob Gordon, President & Vice Chancellor, University of Windsor
  • Brent Allen, Executive Vice President –Group, Green Shield Canada
  • Randy Ruttenberg, Fairmount Properties
  • Yvonne Pilon, President & CEO, WEtech Alliance
  • Justin Falconer, CEO, Workforce WindsorEssex
  • Rakesh Naidu, President & CEO, Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Arthur Barbut, CEO, Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator
  • Michael Hoppe, former resident of Windsor on behalf of Downtown Windsor Business Accelerator
  • Bill Balazs, citizen
  • Vincent Georgie PhD, Chair, Downtown Windsor Districting Committee
  • Virginia Wilkinson, Strategy, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation
  • Lori Newton, Bike Windsor Essex
  • Stephen MacKenzie, President & CEO, WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation
  • Gordon Orr, CEO, Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island

My chief concern about the report is its recommendation that — rather than improving the known and articulated deficiencies of the city in its support of new businesses — a special delivery unit be established in the Mayor’s office. To do will either invite political favouritism into the implementation of the Economic Development Strategy or cast that aspersion from every development that comes from that unit.

I also have concerns with the numbers that this report uses to express our current economic condition after this blog post by Frazier Fathers which highlights this shortcoming as he brings up other points of consideration.

Philippa von Ziegenweidt’s written concerns can be found on page 61 of the Consolidated Agenda of Monday’s meeting and they are also worth reading.

I think the Economic Development Winnipeg would agree with Phillipa that it is not enough to say that social issues are beyond remit of an Economic Development Strategy:

Housing is an economic issue and an investment.

§3 Show me your budget and I can tell you what you value

Speaking of our economic priorities…

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Chief Administrative Officer Onorio Colucci and Chief Financial Officer Joe Mancina today unveiled the draft 2021 municipal budget, which keeps the overall property tax levy increase at 0% while continuing to invest in services, amenities and infrastructure. (See video of the budget preview on Facebook and our budget presentation slides.)

City of Windsor, February 5 2021

I wonder if this is going to be another year in which tough decisions around the City’s budget is going to be discussed without any consideration to the Windsor Police Service’s Budget, which has grown from $77M in 2015 to an approved budget of $92M in 2020.

Let’s see what proposed for 2021…. huh.

Remember when the Mayor of Windsor went to Denver to witness first-hand how a city with legalized cannabis looks like?

Maybe he’s due for another trip:

A young program that puts troubled nonviolent people in the hands of health care workers instead of police officers has proven successful in its first six months, according to a progress report.

Since June 1, 2020, a mental health clinician and a paramedic have traveled around the city in a white van handling low-level incidents, like trespassing and mental health episodes, that would have otherwise fallen to patrol officers with badges and guns. In its first six months, the Support Team Assisted Response program, or STAR, has responded to 748 incidents. None required police or led to arrests or jail time.

In the first six months of health care professionals replacing police officers, no one they encountered was arrested, The Denverite, David Sachs, Feb. 02, 2021

§4 You’ve got to learn to leave the table/ When love’s no longer being served

The most recent episode of Reply All is about the workplace culture of the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen but it applies to many workplaces.

There are moments described in the episode that sounded very much the experiences that Celina Caesar-Chavannes describes in a recent Vice article, Fake as Fuck.

§5 To even the scales between insiders and outsiders

What does it mean for data journalism when a person as accomplished as Sara Simon opts to leave the profession?

A moment of clarity came when I realized I would much rather spend Election Day serving as a poll worker than as a journalist. I am grateful to all journalists who cover elections with rigor and context, but working the Pennsylvania polls and helping swing-state voters to participate in a free and fair election was the right decision for me.

I never grew up wanting to work in news, so in a strange way, it wasn’t too difficult to leave. It would have been a much harder decision had that not been the case, and I suspect the source of so much problematic behavior in this industry is a predatory response to those steadfast young dreams.
 

Sara Simon is heading to graduate school to study the history of U.S. government technology, which is apt as her last project was with the COVID-Tracking Project that existed because the government chose not to this work.

I have been collecting articles from the (too few!) journalists who have been reflecting on how their profession has terribly failed their audience over the last four years. What I have seen is a growing recognition that the media spends too much attention on politics and not enough on government.

“You might not like it,” they preached, “but it’s smart politics.” 

People like Chris Cillizza and Mark Halperin built lucrative careers on that kind of statement. And in putting forward their proposition — it might be ugly, but it’s good politics — they lost sight of what drew them into journalism in the first place, which was to even the scales between insiders and outsiders.

Weeknote 4, 2021

§1 The Safety Insights Dance

Earlier this week, I took a closer look at the recent deal between The City of Windsor and Ford Mobility Canada in a post called Safety Insights, Data Privacy, and Spatial Justice.

§2 Trying to save their reputation, instead of lives

We have long passed the point in which we can expect the Provincial Government to take any action in regards to restoring sick pay or shoring up long term care staffing and facilities lest those action improve outcomes. To save lives through improving working conditions at this point would be a terrible thing for Ford Nation because doing so would suggest that if they had only interjected sooner, they could have prevented many of the 3500 deaths of LTC residents that have been attributed to COVID-19.

Wow. That was a dark thing to write.

As for the safety of teachers and students who may or may not be returning to school shortly, this week the Ontario government showed it was taking every precaution by trying to silence at least two doctors who have been critical of their gross negligence.

A comms agency associated with FordNation apparently coordinated with the Toronto Sun to make a dubious personal attack on Dr. David Fisman.

Also this week, Dr. Brooks Fallis alleges that his contract as medical director at William Osler Health System was terminated because the hospital was under pressure from the provincial government who were unhappy with the outtspokeness of Dr. Fallis and his hospital was worried they would lose funding. Dr. Fallis’ peers are outraged.

I fact-checked the above tweet by the way and it’s true. Bill Davis is the honorary chair of Ryerson’s Institute on Aging and is chair emeritus and board member of the for-profit LTC chain Revera Inc. Mike Harris is Chairman of the Board at Chartwell Retirement Residences, the biggest private chain of LTC homes in Canada and Ernie Eaves sat on the board of Central Park Lodges.

None dare call it… what it appears to be.

§3 Doing things by halves

Years ago I read a “day in the life” profile of Bill Gates the philanthropist. Gates was in a small audience listening to a funding pitch from a health-care organization the journalist recounted how Gates made careful note of all the numbers presented and then afterwards asked difficult and pointed questions on how efficient or inefficient their operation was based on his calculated inferences.

I mention this story because it is frankly inexcusable that this happened:

Evidently you can cut the number of vaccinations in half and that is not considered actionable by Ontario Vaccination Task Force.

Remember when the vaccine was being first rolled out in December and two of the ten members of the Ontario Vaccine Distribution Task Force were so essential to the roll-out that during that time, they left the country to travel someplace warm?

Sooo the fact that our mayor was selected to be a member of another Provincial Task Force — this one dedicated to transportation — doesn’t particularly impress me.

§4 Special Delivery Unit

Next week, on Monday February 8th, there will be a special meeting of council to hear a presentation of Windsor Works – An Economic Development Strategy for the City’s Future Growth by Rachel Wolf and Blair Gibbs of Public First.

Public First is a London UK based organziation that… well, they say that “We help organisations understand and influence public opinion through research and targeted communications campaigns.” I’m not entirely sure why they were hired to develop an economic development strategy. It’s also curious that the City went out of country for this help. Will they understand our context?

Let’s read their report and find out! ⬅ a copy the report with my annotations

I will pull one particular passage out from the report which, as a employee of the University of Windsor, I found quite… let’s say… extraordinary.

The above recommendation can be found in more detail on page 98.

Listen the report is long and if you don’t to read it all, I completely understand. But I have to say it is an audacious report that has a couple good ideas in it along with some big and bad suggestions such as starting up a venture capital fund specifically for American start-ups. The report re-frames current projects such as the City Hall Plaza and Civic Esplanade which is still undergoing public consultations as necessary economic development which really highlights that this is a public relations firm re-writing the desired agenda of the City Administration.

From what I can tell, this is the biggest takeaway from the document:

This plan suggests that Windsor needs to actively pursue automotive and other high-tech start ups with Detroit. But instead of WEEDC taking the lead and doing the work that is in its mandate, this report suggests that the Mayor leads this work using a ‘special delivery unit’ from within City Hall.

Should City Council endorse the L.I.F.T. Strategy to be developed and overseen by a new delivery unit to be setup within City Hall led by the Mayor with no established procedures first? Absolutely not. Will it happen? I really don’t know.

§5 Digital Public Service

Instead of letting the Mayor take the tax money of Windsor residents and give it to start-up bros (what I would give for a kitchen/food incubator in this city!), I would much rather see the City invest in its people so they can develop strong digital services in pursuit of good and equitable governance.

Until that happens, I will just point the civic-minded and civic-employed to The Syllabus from Teaching Public Service in the Digital Age:

Safety Insights, Data Privacy, and Spatial Justice

I am a supporter of OpenMedia which is “a community-driven organization that works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free”. This morning, I filled out the OpenMedia Privacy Act Survey which has been adapted from the Canadian Department of Justice’s 50-Question Survey (open until February 14th).

Here are some questions that it asks:

5. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following: I have a right to know if federal government departments or agencies are using artificial intelligence to make a decision that affects me.

6. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following: I should have a right to request human involvement in a decision-making process about me that relies on computerized automated processes, such as artificial intelligence.

7. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following: A federal government department or agency should be free to collect, use and share personal information that is readily available to the public, including information on a social media website.

8. How comfortable are you with a federal government department or agency sharing your personal information without your explicit permission with the following entities in circumstances where doing so would help carry out the same purpose the information was originally collected for? D) With a private sector for-profit business.

9. How comfortable are you with federal government departments and agencies sharing your personal information without your explicit permission with the following entities to achieve a purpose that is different from what the information was originally collected for? D) With a private sector for-profit business.

Then, later on this morning, I thought I would dive a little deeper into the recent agreement between Ford Smart Mobility Canada (the other FordNation) and the City of Windsor:

The City of Windsor is the first municipality in Canada to sign an agreement with Ford Smart Mobility Canada Company to access Ford Mobility’s Safety Insights platform. Ford Mobility is a business line within the Ford Motor Company that works with cities to better understand their unique challenges and then design targeted solutions that help improve the quality of life for residents.

Ford Mobility’s award-winning Safety Insights tool enables cities like Windsor to streamline what can be a costly and time-consuming process of accessing and analyzing transportation data. By integrating this data into Safety Insights and supplementing it with simulations and solutions based on industry-standard best practices, cities can spend fewer resources on crunching data and focus on helping to improve the safety of their streets.

Windsor the First Canadian City with Ford Safety Insights Platform, January 21, 2021

Like, Frazier Fathers, my first thoughts were that the City of Windsor already has both the data pertaining to car crashes and a GIS team that already has the ability to make inferences from that data.

Given that the platform is really just an online dashboard it certainly seems like the WEEDC is paying a lot for insights that they could be or already are being generated. I am curious how many man hours will be saved by this investment of $30,000 for 1 year.

In 2018 the City released a report on the most accident prone intersections. This 2020 report on potential red light camera locations at the most dangerous intersections in the City.

A Few Thoughts on Week 45, January 24, 2021.

Curious what possible insights Ford’s Safety Insight product might deliver, I watched its 2:49 promo video.

Here are some screenshots. The first is of the system’s crash layer. What can we glean from this? Well, it appears that in order for that type of information to be available to the City of Windsor, the City of Windsor is going to hand over the data that will identify what crash factors that has been recorded for each car crash to Ford.

This next screenshot caught my attention. How does Ford know the volume of pedestrians walking down these streets? Then I looked up what AADT stood for and learned that these are Annual Average Daily Traffic counts. Unless Ford is buying cell phone location data from brokers, this information might be coming from the City of Detroit.

Addendum:

This next slide gave me pause. It looks like the purpose of the Safety Insights dashboard to is generate calculations of the cost of future accidents versus the cost savings from investing in a countermeasure. I would like to believe that the human cost of a car accident is included in this calculation. I certainly hope so.

This is my favourite screen capture of them all. Ford Safety Insights is powered by MACHINE LEARNING.

Combining data provided by the city, FSIP uses artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning as well as industry-standard algorithms to reveal crash-reduction predictions. The results, said the FSIP reps, are actionable.

Smart city: Windsor is first Canadian city to launch Ford Safety Insights Platform to reduce crashes, N.F. Mendoza, Tech Republic, January 21, 2021,

So at the very moment in which the Federal Government is asking Canadians how we feel about handing over personal data to corporations and asking how we feel about artificial intelligence making decisions that may affect our safety, the City of Windsor announces this finished agreement, without any consultation from either residents or city council.

Does this mean that the decision whether there has been enough near-fatal accidents to have occurred at the intersection at your child’s school is enough to justify a stop sign will be made by an algorithm that has been trained been on American drivers, some driving Michigan lefts?

Does this mean that in future, the City of Windsor can hand over some or all of its data pertaining to residents to any private company in exchange for a discount of that company’s product?

I have yet to see any evidence that Ford’s Safety Insights system can deliver what it promises and do better than what our city staff can already provide. Is this project innovation or outsourcing?

Shouldn’t the City of Windsor first develop its own policy on how it will use machine learning in civic decision making and in doing so, ensure that there is also some form of human intervention in the cases that the machine has learned incorrectly or has embodied the structural biases from its training data?


These are not unreasonable questions to ask. There are historical precedents to these concerns.

For example, early attempts at using geospatial data to make firefighting more cost-effective that started in 1968 directly resulted to the death of thousands in New York City over the next decade.

This map was also published in 1968:

runOverMap

In her subsequent analysis, Warren uses this map as a jumping off point to discuss spatial justice more generally for the Black community. For example, most African-Americans work in the factories which are situated several hours from their community so they leave for work at 3 or 4AM because the buses only run once an hour. Those coming from the black community who do have cars are unable to get on the expressway between the hours of 3-5pm due to the timing of the stoplights. She uses these examples and others to unequivocally demonstrate that Detroit’s urban planning and transportation is inadequate and unjust for the Black community and calls for the DGEI to establish “Black planning” for the city of Detroit

Where Commuters Run Over Black Children, Detroit 1968, June 12, 2013, Alex B. Hill

It is safe to say that every person has had someone close to them either die in a car accident or know someone who has had someone beloved die in a car accident

As such, significant improvements to road safety should be greatly received and celebrated.

Unfortunately, the administration of the City of Windsor seems oddly slow to adopt practices that been proven greatly reduce the number of deaths such as reducing residential speed limits or find ways to establish protected bike lanes.

It makes you wonder if safety isn’t really their number one concern.

Weeknote 3, 2021

§1

Three days ago, The Toronto Star proved that the Ford government significantly watered down the COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for schools while the government repeatedly assured Ontarians that they were following the best medical advice. In doing so, not only did they endanger the lives of the educators of Ontario, some would argue by letting COVID-19 spread through our schools beyond our control, they endangered all of our lives and livelihood. Such strong leadership.

Also, here’s something for those of you who are advocating for lifting the lockdown, opening the borders, and re-opening the schools without mass testing or additional resources:

Haug, N., Geyrhofer, L., Londei, A. et al. Ranking the effectiveness of worldwide COVID-19 government interventions. Nat Hum Behav 4, 1303–1312 (2020). https://doi-org/10.1038/s41562-020-01009-0

§2

The video of the January 18, 2021’s council meeting is up and the recording is over 8 hours long.

§3

The agenda for the next council meeting is up (Monday February 1, 2021) and is presently only 458 pages long. Most of the document is related the Community Improvement Plan for the Wyandotte Corridor between the University and Downtown.

But there was something else that I thought I’d dig into:

7.2 Community Safety and Well-Being Program

There’s a weird ask in this agenda. The gist is, the “In 2019 the Provincial government amended the Police Services Act to mandate every municipality to prepare and adopt a Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. At their meeting of July 8, 2019, City Council considered this initiative as outlined in Report #S97/2019 and approved, through CR340/2019, that the Commissioner of Community Development and Health Services undertake a Community Safety and Well Being Plan.” But then, “after discussions amongst the regional Chief Administrative Officers proposing a regional CSWB Plan, Report S198/2019 was brought to City Council requesting authorization to engage the County of Essex and its municipalities to develop a Regional Community Safety and Well-Being Plan (RCSWB).” Because of that delay and because of COVID, the ask for the upcoming meeting is to ask Council for permission for the Plan to come together using with a December 31, 2021 deadline even through the provincial deadline was originally January 1, 2021 and is now likely July 1, 2021.

I mention this plan for three reasons. First, I’m disappointed that there is a Consulting Agreement with StrategyCorp is working on this file because I have not forgiven them for their laughable 20 Year Strategic Plan that they left our city to deal with.

Secondly, there is a lot of potential good that could come from establishing a common plan. Here is a short list of what Ontario municipalities have done so far:

  • Niagara, after a first round of consultations, has set these as their local priorities: addictions/ substance misuse, affordable housing, mental health, poverty and income, and homelessness
  • Hamilton is currently seeking community feedback using their public engagement platform
  • Ottawa, after a first round of consultations, is planning to address six local priorities: discrimination, marginalization & racism, financial security & poverty reduction, gender-based violence & violence against women, housing, integrated & simpler systems, and mental well-being. It gathered these through its public engagement platform.
  • Peel Region has already delivered their plan. Their local focus is family violence, mental health and addictions, and systemic discrimination
  • London, after a round of consultations using its public engagement platform, is currently drafting their plan

You know what? I would have loved to have an opportunity to tell my City what safety means to me. I would loved to see a CSWB plan as a means to consider systematic racism, drug addiction, and violence against women in our communities at the systems level.

But it looks like much of the public consultation from the City of Windsor has already been defined very narrowly.

– Facilitation of three pilot Sector Network Community Conversations consisting of 81 participants. Pilot community conversations were held with the Windsor Essex Local Immigration Partnership (WE LIP); We Care for Youth Committee (WCFY); and the Seniors Advisory Committee (SAC)….

Facilitation of three additional Sector Network Community Conversations consisting of 23 participants. Community conversations were held with the Downtown Windsor Safety and Security Roundtable (DWSSRT); the Ford City Safety Committee (FCSC); and the Enforcement and Justice Pillar of the Windsor Essex Community Opioid and Substance Strategy (WECOSS – E&J).

And this brings me to the last reason why I wanted to mention this item. It strikes me as terribly pathetic to see our mayor trying to get as much political mileage as he can in the media from writing a letter about a random and tragic crime when he could actually do the work to ensure that the city of Windsor use the opportunity of the CSWB to generate an cross-sector roadmap to actually improve the safety of the people in our community.

I am very tired of political theatre.

I am very tired of pandemic theatrics.

§4

I’m also very tired of a very white Canadian Media.

§5

I hope the proposed CIP for Wyandotte can address this.

Weeknote 2, 2021

§1: Words vs. Deeds

On January 7th, Drew Dilkens and an unnamed source that I like to call ‘The Mayor’s Chief of Staff’, threw Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, under the bus in an article in The Windsor Star. Rather than provide the health unit any additional resources, it appears there was some sort of attempt to take the authority to administer the vaccines away from Dr. Ahmed.

Dilkens said he is concerned about the ability of the health unit, already stretched as it deals with a tsunami of cases, to take on mass vaccination.

“Dr. Ahmed and the health unit can not do this alone, not successfully,” he said. “It just makes sense to bring in more horsepower. It’s about making sure we have all the resources that are needed.

“We have a shared goal,” he said. “We all have to take ownership here. It’s going to take many hands to get us across the finish line.”

But there is also concern that the health unit doesn’t appear to have a plan yet for mass vaccination.

Dilkens called Premier Doug Ford last week after the health unit received its first shipment of Moderna vaccine for long-term care and retirement homes and expressed concern that there didn’t seem to be a plan for administering vaccine.

Local vaccination task force warned to ‘ramp this up‘, Anne Jarvis • Windsor Star, Jan 07, 2021.

On January 11th, it was announced that Windsor-Essex was the first in the province to vaccinate all long-term care homes.

Also, since we are talking about vaccine distribution…

The fact that several area hospitals broke the distribution protocols by administering vaccines to non-front line healthcare staff before our 70+ population has been made moot as on January 12th as the province quietly changed the designated Stage 1 recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine.

§2 This is also Canada

Nick Kouvalis, a veteran conservative operative and principal at Campaign Research Inc. and Campaign Support Ltd., tweeted and subsequently retracted a false claim last week that anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter activists ⁠— not supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump ⁠— were responsible for the Capitol riots.

“These BLM/Antifa dudes get around like they’re Forest Gump (sic),” Kouvalis said in a since-deleted tweet from Jan. 6 that was accompanied by a photo of the Washington, D.C. rioters.

Top Tory adviser under fire for tweeting U.S. election misinformation, Emma McIntosh, National Post, January 13th 2021

Speaking of shitposters, I’d like to bring your attention to the January 12th Routine Proceedings dispatch from Dale Smith about The Rebel’s exclusive “interview” with Erin O’Toole.

What this stance O’Toole is making demonstrates is what I talked about in my weekend column – that his party is still happy to turn a blind eye to racists and white supremacists when they think they can use them to score goals against Trudeau. It also brings to mind Andrew Scheer’s farewell speech as leader, when he told party followers to trust outlets like True North and the Post Millennial for their news rather than mainstream sources, which is alarming because of the fact that much of their “reporting” is not actually that, and has been a driver of misinformation. Also of note is that the Post Millennial is in part controlled by the professional shitposters on O’Toole’s payroll – so that gives you an idea about what they are actually looking to promote and gain accreditation for. That O’Toole says they won’t respond to Rebel inquiries in the future is not comforting, because this demonstrates that they still considered this an audience worth engaging with until they got caught.

Roundup: O’Toole’s Rebel problem, Dale Smith, January 12, 2021

§3 We deserve digital

Why does our federal government continue to outsource essential work to consulting firms and diminish the capacity of our civic service?

OTTAWA – The federal government has awarded international accounting firm Deloitte a $16-million contract to build a national computer system to manage the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The contract was recently posted to the federal procurement department’s website after Ottawa called on a select number of companies to submit proposals for developing the system in December.

The new vaccine management system “will help manage vaccine rollout, administration and reporting on a go-forward basis, as the volume of deliveries increases,” according to Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Ottawa gives accounting firm Deloitte $16M contract to track COVID-19 vaccinations, Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press, Jan. 11, 202

When the federal government needed a COVID-19 tracking app that protected privacy, they had one quickly designed and delivered by their Canadian Digital Service.

The Canadian Public Service can be digital and it can be exceptionally so. But that potential will not be met if those in power keep outsourcing government work.

§4: Over 1000 pages

There is a city council meeting tomorrow. Its agenda is over 735 pages long, the appendix is 406 pages long, and the additional information package is 388 pages long.

Did I read all these pages? No, I did not. Sorry, readers but this week you are on your own.

But I will share with you a little hack that I’ve picked up. One of the means by which a city councillor can try to make change is to ask administration to prepare a feasibility report or response to a directed question. In the supplemental documents, you can find the list of outstanding council questions under the heading 18.1.

All of these questions are labeled CQ and so you can always check the current agenda to see if one of these questions is going to be answered by searching for ‘CQ’.

For example, at tomorrow’s meeting, Council will be receiving a report based on this question from the Mayor from January of last year:

CQ1-2020:Asks Administration to prepare a report on policy and/or bylaw changes that require new construction projects in the City of Windsor to prepare for electric vehicle infrastructure including, at a minimum, the rough-in necessary to facilitate future transition to electric vehicles. In addition, report back on best practices or policies that would benefit existing buildings to convert as needed. SW/13715 18.1(January 20, 2020)

The answer brought me to this information and map of current public charging stations:

Presently, the City of Windsor only has one City-owned EV charging station. It is located at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre and is free for the public to use. However, through funding made available through the Government of Canada’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP), the City has been able to expand the number of charging stations available for public use by twenty-two (22) additional electric vehicle spaces. The City will be installing eleven (11) Level 2 dual connector electric vehicle charging stations for public use at nine (9) different locations throughout the City. In addition, a charging station will be installed in Assumption Park North as part of the Celestial Beacon project which will house the newly-renovated Streetcar No. 351.The location and number of additional proposed (ZEVIP funded) charging stations are listed below. These sites will also be free to use at first, with the option to charge for use later.

Compared to the rest of the council documentation, councillor questions are the most straight-forward and also the most interesting.

I particularly can’t wait for CQ17-2020 to be answered:

It is important that we recognize and acknowledge the historic and systemic nature of racism and discrimination in our country and our City. We understand that to move forward and promote equity and eliminate anti-racism requires reaching out to and hearing from the voices of those in our community and Corporation most impacted by discrimination and racism. In this pursuit, it is also essential that we work towards having a Corporation that is representative of the people it serves and that everyone is treated with respect. As such, I am seeking the input and recommendations of Administration and our Diversity Advisory Committee on the viability of:

1. Including community-led consultations on systemic racism, under Phase 2 of the City of Windsor Diversity and Inclusion Initiative.

2. Seeking the input of those in our Corporation and related entities and our community most affected by racism and discrimination, regarding barriers to hiring and advancement in our Corporation and related entities as part of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative.

3. Including recommendations and input regarding providing historical information and educational materials for City owned statues, buildings and streets named with racist histories as part of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, and further developing a plan for inclusive street and property naming practices in the future. APM2020 (July 13, 2020)

Weeknote 1, 2021

§1: Partisanship is hazardous to our health

In a better world, all of our levels of government would work together to contain COVID-19 and protect lives.

But we live in Windsor, Ontario where the Mayor and the Head of Windsor’s Regional Hospital are more than happy to criticize the Federal Government’s work in supplying vaccines for COVID-19 and remain completely silent on matters that the province is responsible for.

According to journalist Dale Smith, this line of complaint is a Ford-talking point. From his January 9th Round-up:

As for the blame-shifting, Ford (along with a couple of other premiers) are howling that they’re running out of vaccines, after the slow roll-out – so slow that Ontario is already starting to give people their second doses. But, running out of vaccines is a good thing, because it means they’re going into arms. And more to the point, he knows that there are thousands of more Pfizer doses coming next week, the week after, and then again, the week after that, plus another bulk shipment of Moderna vaccines – and deliveries are expected to scale up further in February. They know this. This has been communicated for a while now, but he’s trying to deflect the attention to Trudeau once again to divert away from his own incompetence. (And apparently there were some hurt feelings among the premiers during Thursday’s first ministers meeting because Trudeau dared to criticize the provinces for their role in the slow roll-out. The poor dears).

For those just tuning in, examples of Ford’s incompetence in protecting Ontario residents from COVID-19 include:

  • putting the province into ‘lock-down lite’ the day after Christmas
  • not addressing the continued spread of COVID-19 through tighter controls at workplaces that not affected by the lockdown such as manufacturing, construction sites, warehouses, and agri-farms
  • not restoring sick days cut by the Ford government in 2018 so that those with COVID-19 symptoms don’t have to lose their income to stay home
  • allocating less money to LTCs in the Ontario Budget than last year
  • confusing lines of command by introducing a vaccine distribution task-force on December 4th with no nurses or family doctors represented

More troubling was another article that came out on January 7th in which The Windsor Star lets an unnamed source take pot-shots at Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

(“We can walk and chew gum at the same time, right?” Who is this asshat?)

This all very much reminds me of when David Musyj of the Windsor Regional Hospital was livid because the Health Unit was concentrating on distributing PPE to Long-term health care facilities instead of engaging in mass COVID-19 testing. Just as it is now, this was a story about non-public complaints that made it to the media via some mysterious, un-named source. (By the way, our Health Unit made the right call).

It is the job of the medical officer of health at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to lead the direction of the COVID-19 vaccination program. Breaking ranks from their direction holds consequences. And those consequences arrived the next day:

“I am disturbed by the fact that with the limited supply of vaccine, we are throwing away the prioritization and are completely ignoring the ethical framework that is provided to all of us,” Ahmed said during the local health unit’s morning news conference.

Some local health-care workers have complained to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit that some individuals receiving the vaccine do not work with patients at all, or work with patients very minimally, he said. He’s also heard that some “executives” and “leadership team members” have already received the vaccine, though he wouldn’t provide names.

Windsor-Essex hospitals facing backlash for offering vaccine to managers and executives, CBC News, January 8, 2021

Now I want to be very careful how I say this. I’m not saying that the CEO of Windsor Regional hospital broke ranks with the health unit and distributed doses to staff who are not in contact with patients as a means to use up all the vaccines as soon as possible with the explicit purpose of providing political cover for Doug Ford.

I’m just saying, the actions give this appearance to others in the province.

By breaking the ethical vaccine distribution framework that was established by the province, Windsor has demoralized front-line workers who are still waiting for their doses:

Those in leadership positions should have noticed the massive outcry against the Christmas tropical island travel vacations of the Ontario Finance Minister (approved by Doug Ford) and the hospital CEO on the Ontario Vaccine Distribution Task Force and saw that the anger generated from these two leaders was much greater than say, the anger generated by learning that some of our Ontario’s LTCs are in utter shambles.

Public trust has been lost. It has to be earned back:

The correct way to respond to a low-trust environment is not to double down on proceduralism, but to commit yourself to the “it does exactly what it says on the tin” principle and implement policies that have the following characteristics:

– It’s easy for everyone, whether they agree with you or disagree with you, to understand what it is you say you are doing.

– It’s easy for everyone to see whether or not you are, in fact, doing what you said you would do.

– It’s easy for you and your team to meet the goal of doing the thing that you said you would do.

Making policy for a low-trust world, January 6, 2021, Slow Boring

It is essential that the local leadership in healthcare stop the infighting. If the matter is related to public health, then they should take direction from from our public health unit.

Dr. Ahmed and his team have my trust.

We in Windsor-Essex have been exceedingly fortunate to have a health unit who has repeatedly gone beyond provincial directives to keep us safer.

§2: The Mayor Hates The Free Market

Speaking of wasting precious energy and attention by pointing figures at other governments, I have lost count of the number of Facebook posts that Mayor Drew Dilkens has made in trying garner more signatures for a petition to the Federal government to protect air traffic control from Windsor’s airport after Nav Canada has put the service under review.

This is your periodic reminder that Nav Canada is a privatized owner and operator of the country’s civil air navigation system and as such are not obliged to run services that don’t make business sense to them.

§3: More please: Hospitals helping LTCs

You know what I think is an under-reported story? I think the work of Hotel Dieu Grace staff who took over some key operations at The Village at St. Clair in Windsor on Dec. 24 when it was struggling with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the area is worthy of more recognition. According to the CBC News story, the hospital will be transitioning out of the Village next week and will be assisting Kingsville retirement home Augustine Villas next.

I don’t know Janice Kaffer, the President and CEO of Hotel Dieu Grace, but I love the leadership that she displays on her social media. Here’s a sample:

§4: “Anyone fortunate enough to have a street named after them deserves the dignity to have their name spelled properly!”

It’s been over six months since the Black Lives Matters protests filled streets around the world. It’s been over six months since the Mayor’s office surveyed the community “to hear and listen to important issues, and understand how to help drive out racism from society” and promised next steps. What have those next steps been?

Is it time yet for Windsor to confront our history and ongoing practice of honouring slave owners?

Or nah?

§5: When the people who espouse”personal responsibility” tell lies to absolve their responsibility

I’m not going to comment about the January 6th mayhem in the U.S. Capitol but I do want to say something related to Trump supporters that does come back to local politics. Before I do, I want to you to read this twitter thread so you can properly understand the context of this particular point:

Did Trump supporters really believe that Obama was born in Kenya? No. Most of them did not. Like Gene, they will never admit this because the ruse was used to cover up people’s refusal to give legitimacy to a presidency that they did not want to accept. Fast-forward to the most recent U.S. election. Do Trump supporters really believe that there was widespread voter fraud orchestrated by their Democratic opponents in 2020? No. But the lie gives them cover to engage in blatant forms of voter suppression towards Black Americans without admitting that this is the activity that they are engaging in.

It’s something to keep in mind when you hear a Trump supporter refuses to concede the 2020 U.S. Election to Biden just as the president of the Windsor-West Electoral District Association for the Progressive Conservatives did on December 15th, 2020.