Weeknote 11 2021

§1 Not your Asian sidekick

Let’s talk about the shootings in Atlanta. Before I begin, I want to start with this guidance from the AAJA who have provided guidance on covering this story.

For an understanding of this hate crime in a Canadian context, I strongly suggest starting with Hannah Sung’s newsletter issue titled, You’ll need more than news / If you want to understand racism.

And you will indeed to need more than news. The first story from The Windsor Star of the March 16 shooting didn’t appear until March 18; it framed the women from the point of view of the shooter, as a temptation.

Not surprised but disappointed.

Speaking of Postmedia…

§2 Hate-crimes have no place

Now that we have set the context, can we talk about this?

Where to start? Maybe the bonsai tree? I mean, I think it’s a bonsai tree. Maybe it’s the Korean version (분재) or the Chinese version (盆栽) of this Japanese practice. Most of the victims of the Atlanta shootings were Korean so using this particular iconography feels off to me.

But what really feels off to me is the text ‘-Mayor Drew Dilkens’ under the call to action to ‘Stand Against Anti-Asian Racism.’ He is literally centering himself in this issue.

Mayor Dilkens is the chair of the Windsor Police Services Board and as such, he could say much more about the rise of hate crimes towards Asians-Canadians.

Who are we standing up against? How do we address this issue? What does hate look like in our community?

§3 Can we recognize hate after it gets a makeover?

Remember when the first anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests began in our community? There were Trump flags, QAnon posters, and yellow vests.

In recent anti-lockdown protests in Edmonton (where there is currently no lockdown), there were tiki-torches.

There is a growing understanding that hate groups are using anti-public health rallies to spread their message.

Perhaps in response, local anti-public health activists have become more disciplined in their methods. At this week’s local protest, protesters had professionalized their look with matching t-shirts and printed signs, placed themselves in front of the hospital for maximum outrage, and suddenly they became a collection of “a group of small business owners”.

I can understand why they pretended to be small business owners. The demographic is the only one that Premiere Ford seems to listens to — instead of the experts.

As pandemic restrictions loosened for restaurants in several Ontario regions Saturday, at least one infectious disease expert warned that allowing more people to dine indoors amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s third wave could lead to so-called super-spreader events.

Dr. Andrew Morris, medical director of the Sinai Health System-University Health Network’s antimicrobial stewardship program, said the Ontario government’s decision to significantly increase restaurants’ indoor capacity in two zones of its colour-coded pandemic response system at this time is “baffling.”

The risk of transmission grows when more people are indoors without masks, particularly given the presence of more contagious variants of the virus, said Morris, who also teaches medicine at the University of Toronto.

Allowing more people to eat indoors could spur super-spreader events, Ontario doctor warns
By Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press, March 20, 2021

§4 Next City Council Meeting is Monday, March 29, 2021

I was reading through the Agenda for the upcoming Monday, March 29, 2021 council meeting and this table caught my eye:

What I find particularly troubling is that I recently tried to contact the public members on the Windsor Police Board with a particular concern and found that I could not do so directly. The only way to contact these public members is through the board’s Administrative Director. Why are these members paid so much and yet so inaccessible to the public who’s interests they are supposed to represent?

There’s lots more in this Agenda, including a proposal from Windsor Salt and another pertaining to an escooter and e-bike service. I might write more about those next week.

§5 Explore Home from Home

The Windsor Jane’s Walk Festival 2021 is Friday, May 7th to Sunday, May 9th.

Windsor will be a part of a global weekend of free, citizen-led walking tours celebrating neighbourhoods.

This week I submitted my walk proposal. It’s not too late for you submit yours!

Weeknote 10 2021

§1 The Windsor Police Service Uses a Disproportional Use of Force Against Visible Minorities

There was a special episode on Rose City Politics released on Saturday in which Dr. Natalie Delia Deckard and Sarah Mushtaq shared perspectives on the 2020 Windsor Police Service Use of Force Report that was released in February to the WPS Board. The episode is excellent and I strongly recommend that you should listen to it.

If you are looking for more context, the CBC covered this story at the end of February.

Can the WPS be reformed? Or should we reduce its harm by defunding the service and pursuing community safety through other community organizations?

Consider the following from Jeff Shantz:

Weaponizing Reform

Abolitionists have regularly pointed out the pitfalls of reforms, and how reforms are recouped and distorted by governments to buttress and expand policing. On March 26, 2019, the Conservative government in Ontario passed the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019.  The new legislation replaced Bill 175, which had been introduced by the previous Liberal government. That bill had somewhat strengthened the mandates of Ontario’s existing oversight agencies, including the SIU, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC). The new law scraps the OCPC and turns the OIPRD into the Law Enforcement Complaints Agency (LECA), which now receives and screens public complaints involving police officers….

…This is the weaponizing of reform against communities. And like policing itself, this weaponized reform disproportionately targets and harms Black and Indigenous people and communities. While the SIU only began keeping race-based data at the end of 2020, the Ontario Human Rights Commission has been examining SIU data and released an in 2018. Examining racial profiling and interactions between police and Toronto residents who are Black, the Commission found that while 8.8 percent of residents are Black, the SIU data showed “Black people were overrepresented in use-of-force cases (28.8 per cent), shootings (36 per cent), deadly encounters (61.5 per cent) and fatal shootings (70 per cent).” This is what weaponized oversight reforms are protecting.

Up Against the Blue Wall: Police “Oversight” and the Weaponizing of Reform, The Media Co-Op, Jeff Shantz, March 9 2021

If the chair of the Windsor Police Board really believes in evidence-based decision making, perhaps he should find a way to advocate for evidence-based policing.

§2 The topic of the next city council meeting is a secret

Notice of Special In-Camera Meeting – Thursday, March 11, 2021 at 12:00 noon (via Teleconference) regarding Legal Matter – Advise subject to Solicitor-Client Privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose.

§3 Another item filed under “not surprised but still disappointed”

Weeknote 9 2021

§1 A World More Tender

Tomorrow, March 8 is International Women’s Day. Celebrate it by reading this article by Kathryn Jezer-Morton: Day Care Makes the World More Tender.

Arielle Aaronson, an American expat in Quebec, wrote, “I deeply believe the system is working here in Quebec. Universal child care has allowed women to retain careers that might have been derailed by the arrival of children and increases their financial independence. It doesn’t impose day care on any mother, but offers the possibility for families to envision a weekday life that doesn’t revolve around their children.”

Want to encourage more women to start their own businesses or pursue leadership opportunities at work, politics, or in civic life? Fight for affordable daycare.

§2 Rental Unit Licensing

There are lots of delegations lined up for tomorrow’s City Council Meeting to talk about the proposed Rental Unit Licensing, including lots of landlords (11.2: Residential Rental Housing Licensing Options -City Wide (C188/2020)). I am personally not well versed on the matter so I very much appreciated listening to Darcie Renaud speak to the issue on last week’s Rose City Politics. She points out that despite the threats that landlords are making that any additional licensing costs will be passed on to tenants, the has been no evidence of rental cost increases in cities that have passed similar legislation.

§3 Our hotels are hospitals and our swimming pools are shelters

When I saw the photo above, it struck me that a hotel would be a much better option to protect our homeless population from the elements and from COVID. I wonder why didn’t they move these people to the hospital-hotel the next block over?

Anyway, I’m glad to see this development:

§4 All Monuments Must Fall

This is the statue that we need*

* its Plastikman

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.


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: