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.