And The Infrastructure Design Winner Is---EVERYONE Who Entered
I read an interesting article recently:
- “Big News in Washington, but Far Fewer Cover It”
The story was about how newspapers are cutting the size of their bureaus that cover the news in Washington as a result of the financial problems that they are suffering even though the Americans are suffering through two wars and a major financial crisis.
- “Those that remain have cut back drastically on Washington coverage, eliminating hundreds of journalists’ jobs at a time when the federal government — and journalistic oversight of it — matters more than ever.”
The claim is made:
- “The times may be news-rich, but newspapers are cash-poor, facing their direst financial straits since the Depression. Racing to cut costs as they lose revenue, most have decided that their future lies in local news, not national or international events.”
I have no idea whether the situation is similar in Ottawa or not but, as regular BLOG readers will know, I’m extremely critical of the way that our media covers local political news. Pinning a “W” on one’s chest or being a cheerleader for City Hall is hardly the way to act as responsible news media organization.
You may wonder you may wonder why the DRIC/Greenlink war is still on. The route has been fixed and there is no argument on it. The fight is over some Schwunnels and Eddie is prepared to compromise over it now so that he will not be deemed a loser in the border battle. We have had Greenlink, Son of Greenlink and it would not surprise me if we do not hear about a Grandson of Greenlink too soon.
Control over the road is important to our Mayor. First, it is the way that he puts pressure on the Owner of the Bridge Company so that Eddie gets what he wants from him. Just recall the Schwartz drawing in his first presentation in 2005 that shows a four lane Huron Church instead of a six lane roadway today. Cut off traffic to the bridge, especially truck traffic.
Moreover, the fight over the road puts pressure on the Senior Levels to give the City money because of our desperate financial situation, especially because we have to pay off the Arena debt and have little extra money to do anything else. The argument would be that we are the “Host Community” for the border and we deserve money for doing so. Just like a City that hosts the Olympics would get money. Infrastructure money for the Olympics, infrastructure money for a border city.
Or at least a loan of money now so that we could start doing City capital projects now because people are unemployed. Remember when the Mayor said that he hoped that DRIC did not start soon because it would take up all of the workers so that City projects could not be undertaken. I have heard that the City has told contractors that they will be very busy in the spring. If that is true, it will not be on DRIC work but it has to be on City projects. Could it be that this was part of the conversation that Eddie and Dwight had in their border car trip to the Airport in Toronto?
It is a good argument and if we had a Mayor who knew how to negotiate we probably would have had a solution by now.
Why am I raising this issue? Why are mere Bloggers, and not the traditional media finding out the answers? Is it because Press Release journalism is still alive and well in Windsor? You judge for yourself.
Compare what Gord Henderson wrote with what Blogger Chris Schnurr did on Sam Schwartz winning an award for his Greenlink work from some unknown group. Check out his BLOG http://chrisschnurr.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/greenlink-googling-for-diamonds/
To be blunt about it, why didn’t the Star or Gord himself do that basic research that Schnurr did. The same thing happened with the onion importers where I discovered who they were after doing some research on the Internet.
Instead, we have a puff piece for Schwartz and for Greenlink to be used by the Mayor as part of his war. I hardly think that this will impress the Senior Level people but will rather infuriate them.
Not wishing to take anything away from Mr. Schwartz but I wonder what the awards people would think about the DRIC road? Would it be a prizewinner too? The answer is YES.
- “Firms will be notified by letter of their award level. All projects entered win an award. Awards are given out as diamond, platinum, gold and silver. Award letters are sent to firm 7-10 business days after the judging. We ask that you keep the information about your awards confidential until ACEC New York issues it’s press release at the end of March.”
According to Chris, Schwartz is to receive the “diamond” award. With a phone call or two Gord could have found that out also and imagine how we could have gloated then.
To be fair, Gord should have mentioned that Schwartz applied for the award just as the City did in relation to the magazine designation that said that we were such a fantastic small city. Someone just did not find the project and say how wonderful it was.
Still, dear reader, you may think that the people at DRIC should have submitted their project as well. Unfortunately, they could not. For this competition, one has to be a member of the New York organization. Schwartz obviously was one and he could apply because he was an American. Our Governments chose instead to use a Canadian firm to do the work so they were ineligible to apply for an award.
I bet you are wondering though what would have happened if there was a head to head competition between the two projects. Unfortunately, not with this award:
- “In this competition, each project is judged against itself and not against all entries within a given category.”
You might ask yourself as well why anyone would to apply for such an award. What is the point:
- “The public relations and marketing value is considerable for both the local and national award winners. ACEC New York issues press release(s) prior to the dinner. Firms may also take advantage of the recognition by issuing their own press releases and related marketing materials.”
Imagine using the diamond award and the Henderson Column as marketing tools for an engineering company. Not too shabby.
I do not want to take anything away from what Schwartz has done. The fact that he has won a diamond award is significant and he should be congratulated for it. However, the unthinking praise from Mr. Henderson is not deserved nor should the Star have allowed it either without doing the basic research that a mere Blogger has been able to do using the Internet as a tool.
Awards are fine but it is the practical side that is the most important. Schwartz’s work is a concept - it is almost like one of the auto manufacturers and their concept cars. Perhaps one can argue that the DRIC people built on his concept. So much the better for us and good for him too.
However, it is not difficult to design something with cost not a major consideration and to play with numbers---that is what Megaprojects are all about after all. The challenge for engineers is to design something that can be delivered within a client's real budget. Here's the point- the client (City of Windsor) doesn’t have to pay the bill for the project. The Senior levels have to do so.
All Windsor has to keep saying is that we are “entitled” and talk about quality of life issues. Sam's work is just another of the Mayor's weapons, like the Estin photos in the Star.
And if you really think that we are getting the DRIC road, you have been Delray-ed!
- "*None of the projects entered in A can be involved with the preparation of construction documents."
Oh, and by the way, a DRIC road/Greenlink-type road is not unique. The above photo shows a similar type road and it is on the Awards brochure.