Letters to the Editor

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No truck with Francis

Dear Jack: Regarding your report on your meeting with Mayor Francis (“Meet a mayor you can admire,” Metro Times, June 15), while many of the items you reported regarding the Mayor are commendable, his and the Windsor Council’s opinion regarding the “Schwartz” solution are insane.

Have you looked at the Schwartz concept and how it was arrived at?

I would venture not, for had you — you being known for common sense and supporting open government and environmental issues — you would immediately have seen the insanity and the deceitful way the plan was conceived and the damage it would cause to the environment.

Schwartz was hired and when his first plan was produced (in camera) to Windsor it was rejected. Then a second plan was produced that could only have been produced by idiots. I am amazed that Schwartz would allow his name to be associated with such an insane plan.

The Schwartz plan calls for the destruction of thousands of trees and environmentally sensitive areas, already designated as such, for absolutely no purpose.

The physical aspect of the Schwartz plan creates a horseshoe-shaped bypass from a six-lane existing highway, at great financial and environmental expense, back to the original six-lane highway for absolutely no benefit, quite the reverse is true.

The Schwartz plan, if implemented, will produce significantly more pollution, noise and atmospheric, than would otherwise be the case.

It is well documented that all motor vehicles, particularly trucks, expel the most pollution when gearing up or down — as would be required in order for the trucks to navigate the proposed horseshoe bypass.

As you may already be aware, there is currently a major study being carried out in the Windsor and Detroit area to come up with a new river crossing. Mayor Francis, and his council, fail to understand the significance of that.

To proceed with any physical changes to the existing road system until the site and supporting road system for any new crossing are determined would be madness and a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars.

If a new crossing is built outside of the city, there will be no need to do anything within the city with regard to international truck traffic. This is a fact that should have been considered by the Windsor Council before hiring Schwartz at great expense.

I have no admiration for the mayor as will be understood by my comments here. I tried many times to obtain an audience with him to make the suggestions I have put forward here and others; to this date I have not even received the courtesy of a reply to my request for an audience. —Dave Grant, LaSalle, Windsor, Ontario


Don’t pave paradise

Dear Mr. Lessenberry: Eddie Francis may well be cordial and charming to you and anyone who poses no political opposition. He may well be the youngest mayor and drive himself around, but these are shallow considerations in judging a mayor. In my personal experience, I have seen more secrecy and behind-closed-door maneuvering now than ever before in the history of Windsor. Information now for the average citizen must be sought through the Freedom of Information Act. And after Sam Schwartz came to town, no planner or Parks and Recreation employee can comment or supply any information or documents at all to the public, or to anyone who may care to examine or question or vet these ideas. The City wants all these plans to be pushed through a municipal Class Environmental Assessment, to avoid the binational process, and get the problem “out of Windsor” and into the next community, LaSalle. LaSalle will be heavily affected by the traffic disruption and pollution and disturbance that will ensue, not Windsor. Thus Windsor and Eddie can tout the wonders of the Schwartz Plan all they want. It solves no pollution problems here in LaSalle, and is totally unwelcome. We prefer to see a countywide solution, one that is impartially selected as the best possible route by qualified experts.

We have severe air quality problems across from Zug Island and the rest of the Wayne County industrial complexes, steel plants and incinerators, as well as the Ohio Valley airshed drift. Air quality has been totally ignored by these folks. We are well informed and savvy, and don’t need some outsider to casually breeze through, taking a superficial assessment of the situation and proceed to get lionized by the city of Windsor.

Mr. Schwartz called our premier natural area “empty woodland,” and a viable option for his trucking route, easily available land. What he was referring to was the highly recognized Ojibway Prairie Remnant ANSI Complex, including the Ojibway Provincial Nature Reserve, Ojibway Tallgrass Heritage Prairie, Spring Garden Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, Black Oak Heritage Woods and Ojibway Park. The Schwartz preferred option, route No. 3, aka the Brighton Beach Bypass, requires carving up and cutting down thousands of trees to achieve this. This recommendation has the full backing of Eddie Francis, even though the city is committed to purchasing all of the remaining portions of these lands for preservation.

This approximately 600-acre complex has more biodiversity and endangered and threatened species than any piece of land in Canada. It is a biological jewel, full of trails and old-growth trees. It receives 100,000 visitors a year, and functions as a deer yard to a herd of 100 deer, and has three federally threatened snakes. Ojibway is also a breeding ground for 88 nesting species of birds and a migratory stopover for many more — 241 species overall. Ojibway is beloved by thousands of local residents, and receives visitors from many foreign nations.

So as you can see, secrecy concerning the mission to sacrifice Ojibway and sell the people of LaSalle down the river, so to speak, does not endear everyone to Eddie, charming as he is. —Anna Lynn Meloche, LaSalle, Ontario


More about the mayor

Was your recent article about Windsor's Mayor Eddie Francis written by a bona fide journalist or prepared by the mayor's public relations staff? It was uncharacteristic of Metro Times to paint such a glowing picture of a politician without looking for the rest of the story.

Case in point: Eddie’s pet project, the Sam Schwartz border proposal, which you mentioned in your article. This proposal was created without public input and endorsed by City Council in a closed door meeting with no opportunity for comment. Its hallmark is a freeway that would cut through an extremely rare series of urban parks and areas of natural and scientific interest on which previous city councils spent millions of dollars to acquire and protect. These parks are home to plants and animals that don’t live anywhere else in Canada or, in some cases, the world. The only information made available to the public about the Schwartz concept is a Powerpoint presentation that offers no technical details. Requests for background information are denied on the basis of attorney-client privilege. Why? Because they were prepared with the input of an “environmental” lawyer retained by the city to exploit loopholes in environmental assessment legislation.

This lack of accountability is the reason the Canadian government has withheld support for the Schwartz concept. If these are the qualities that make Eddie Francis a mayor you can admire, you can have him! —Kevin O’Neil, LaSalle, Ontario


Attack more gently

Democrats could further their cause if occasionally they would present ideas and real debate of issues rather than resorting to name-calling. But Jack Lessenberry resorts to the Democrat trick book again with his article “Times that try men’s souls” (Metro Times, June 22). In it, he attacks President Bush (“right-wing nuts”), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (“a disgrace of a medical doctor”) and Jeb Bush (“the worst scumbag of them all”).

Jack, why don’t you tell us why you think it’s bad to cut tax rates, good to sell GM to Toyota, good to have Terri Schiavo dead and how to fix the deficit? Enlightened individuals would like to hear your thoughts and ideas, but have no interest in your name-calling. —Rick Engelland, Northville, [email protected]


Is the economy stupid?

Dear Mr. Lessenberry: Regarding your column on the economic climate in the United States and Michigan, I completely agree with your opinion.

I have been worried about the economy and noticing how it has been downplayed for some time by the national media. Recently it hit home for me when my wife’s white-collar job was outsourced, even though she gave her former company five years of dedicated work that was always considered top-notch. One manager even used to tell her fellow employees they should all be more like my wife.

The business world of the United States is one of strange ideals. The incompetent are promoted, the good are laid-off and the lazy are never touched. On top of all this, the business world seems shortsighted in its goals. Managers make decisions based on short-term profits or a slight, temporary, uptick in stock price, at the expense of a quality product that could produce long-term profits. Good business sense has been replaced by the instant bottom line.

Plus, they are encouraged to lay waste to the very people who they employ by their stockholders, Wall Street and even the media. Take for example a recent report on CNN about Maytag on Tuesday. The anchor of the news program, who is supposed to be objective, was decrying the American appliance manufacturer because it had not moved jobs overseas like its competitors. The message was, “Who cares about the employees who helped your company through thick and thin or the community you are based in or the country who gave you the freedom to create your business, you need quick profits and cheap labor — go to China now and appease the analysts. We know best.”

God help us all. —Jeremy McBain, Charlevoix, [email protected]


Thanks for the support

Re: “This is not America,” (Metro Times, June 22), You capitalist-hating liberals need to get off the rich’s asses. This country was founded on making a buck the best way you can. Everyone bitches about what’s “fair.” Well, if you want fair, then it has to apply to everyone, no matter their income. You write, “But much of what they regard as ‘theirs’ used to be ‘ours.’” No shit? If this doesn’t show the true nature of the left then I don’t know what does.

The general consensus among the left is that since some people make more money, for whatever reason, they should be forced to give more of a percentage of it to the public. Communism, anyone? I’ll offer every single penny that I have to anyone that can point out in our Constitution where it legitimizes or even favors any social programs. Seriously, show me where it mentions welfare, Social Security, Medicare, workers compensation. I mean, this is what we’re talking about, really. The majority of our taxes are going to your neighbor to feed, medicate, and drive him deeper into sloth. There is plenty of goodwill in this country, there is absolutely no need for our government to dictate that I’m to pay for those that choose to throw away ambition for a check every month. I don’t know about you, but I like the feeling of more money in my pocket. If I choose to give to charity then I will. Otherwise, get off of my ass!

On to the next point, which I think Mr. big-time Metro Times journalist forgets. The war. You may not agree, you may not like it. Plainly said, tough shit. As far as I’m concerned, upon President Bush’s re-election, the American populace stood up in support of his efforts. Deal with it. Only the ignorant call it an “illegal” and “un-winnable” war. Bullshit. If the anti-war movement really cared about the troops instead of their own hippie agenda, it would show. Not likely. Why? Because everyone wants a handout. Free meds, free money, free food. Is that the American way? Maybe you should feel guilty.

I need to get back to work so I can support more lazy people. Remember, about 2.4 hours of each day’s pay goes to the government. —K. King, Clinton Township


Heartfelt thanks

Mr. Bohy: Thanks so much for your opinion piece. I, too, have been feeling alienated from this country because of the destructive path Bush and his handlers have taken us down and of how the people and the Fourth Estate have been so acquiescent. We get so little information about how other industrialized countries protect their citizens with health care, daycare, pensions, good transportation and more. We raise our children to believe we’re “the best” without giving them a decent education, with which they might evaluate just what the United States really stands for anymore. Patriotism, in this country, is all about wrapping oneself in the flag, and not about the values of making a better society. —Kathleen Cunningham, Berkley


Roll out the barrel

Keith Owens’ observations on bars and their place in neighborhoods was on the mark (“Closing time for the corner bar?Metro Times, June 29).

Hamtramck once had more bars per capita than any city in America — more than 200 at one time, according to some records.

For better and worse, neighborhood bars have played a major role in the development of the city. And I don’t think Hamtramck is unique in that aspect. These days, the bars are sharing space with upscale clubs in town. But there’s still a fair number of shot-and-a-beer places remaining.

In their own way, bars contribute to the culture and history of a town. They should be recognized for that. —Greg Kowalski, Chairman, Hamtramck Historical Commission, Hamtramck, [email protected]

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