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DebraW
30-08-2007, 02:56 PM
Steve picks fight with Ed

Neil Waugh
Thu, August 30, 2007

Ed Stelmach emerges from his office this week with a smirk on his lips.

"There must be a municipal election in the air," winks the premier.

Less than 24 hours earlier, Edmonton's milquetoast Mayor Stephen Mandel suddenly turns into a savage political tiger.

His calculated political strategy to pick a fight with the suburbs - and lay all the blame for Edmonton city council's shortcomings on St. Albert and the County of Strathcona - appears to have flopped badly.

Same with his plan to divert Refinery Row and Upgrader Alley taxes to Edmonton.

Mandel needs a new enemy, even though no credible candidate has stepped forward to question him on his record of potholes, snow clogged streets and a misbehaving police service.

Step forward Ed Stelmach in the role of public enemy No. 1, with Finance Minister Lyle Oberg cast as his henchman.

Mandel lets them have it with both barrels in his "Where are we on 23 Avenue" speech on Monday.

He accused Oberg of "celebrating yet another record surplus," when Oberg released his first-quarter update which saw the projected bottom line balloon by another $800 million.

"While he does his happy dance, Alberta cities are choking," Mandel blasted.

He talked about a "systemic problem" that can't be solved "without a bigger role from the province."

That includes the $130 million more the city transportation bureaucrats say they need to solve the dangerous traffic clog at 23 Avenue and Calgary Trail.

Heck, if the $260-million underpass and other chunks of road don't get built, "it will choke the province's economy," Mandel warned darkly.

No mention is made of the reason for the city's worst traffic jam: the geniuses who decided to let a quarter-section of big box stores rise by the highway without first figuring out how to get all those SUVs in and out of South Edmonton Common.

And not a peep is heard from under the pyramids about forcing all those American outfits to pay their fair share of the mess with a special transportation surcharge.

Nope, it's easier to point fingers. Steady Eddie got it next.

Mandel revealed he has now stolen a page from Calgary's malcontent Mayor Dave Bronconnier's playbook and has teamed up with Bronco.

They want to meet with the premier "so we can talk about these issues."

Yesterday after a meeting with Infrastructure Minister Luc Ouellette he was still at it, saying how he's "optimistic when we sit down with the premier.

"He's the one who has to make those decisions."

Except if you read Ouellette's lips yesterday, a decision may already have been made - without any political grandstanding.

"We have to be accountable to Edmontonians and we have to be accountable to all Albertans," Ouellette said.

"We're going to look at what we can do." Especially if it's a "real safety issue."

Then it's "somewhere we would have to address it."

Everything is calm and cordial before the TV cameras. Behind the scenes, infrastructure officials are said to be seething.

Mandel's political stunt may have washed as much as $10 million down the drain.

Stelmach gave reporters a peek under the tent flaps earlier, saying "we're working along in a very thoughtful and pragmatic way to make sure we get the infrastructure built."

One way is to piggyback the 23 Avenue project onto the Anthony Henday extension to cut costs.

Maybe even as part of the P3. But that all ended when Mandel released his inflated figures - "no doubt this could be more than a $300-million project before the end."

The contractors bidding on the job now have the hammer.

A curious government document emerges which reveals $110 million has already been "set aside" for 23 Avenue. And another $242 million in "overall funding" for Edmonton infrastructure this year. Plus $717 million more for the Anthony Henday. When is enough enough?

For now, Stephen Mandel is officially running against nobody. Too bad.

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Elk Islander
30-08-2007, 03:13 PM
Steve picks fight with Ed


Surely it is time for Stephen to put his plans for a post-election taxation, privatization, and service charge revolution on the table? All this talk of blaming Strathcona County and the Premier is utter nonsense. The only way forward is for the planned taxation reforms to be implemented post-haste. This is only reasonable option to move forward with these big-ticket projects.

Despite the soundness of the mayor's plans, it is indeed a shame that there are no serious opponents presenting themselves for October's election. As much as I support the mayor in his neoconservative machinations, his plans should at least be debated before being implemented.

Sonic Death Monkey
30-08-2007, 03:32 PM
For once, Waugh makes a couple of comments that are sensible and I wholly agree with:



No mention is made of the reason for the city's worst traffic jam: the geniuses who decided to let a quarter-section of big box stores rise by the highway without first figuring out how to get all those SUVs in and out of South Edmonton Common.

And not a peep is heard from under the pyramids about forcing all those American outfits to pay their fair share of the mess with a special transportation surcharge.


One way is to piggyback the 23 Avenue project onto the Anthony Henday extension to cut costs.

Maybe even as part of the P3.

Schweiktoo
30-08-2007, 04:45 PM
Well if we want to play a game of endless recriminations for what wasn't done in the past, let's start with....hmmm... a government that had no plan for growth.....that balanced its budget by not spending on infrastructure for 20+ years.....that still has no plan for growth.......and oh yes, the out of control inflation atmosphere is largely a factor of us being caught in the middle of out of control growth that, oh yeah, no one at the Province ever planned for. I'm not fan of the "design" of SEC but on the large scale of things, how much is hindsight really worth?

Anyone who thinks we can raise $130 million off those businesses as a surcharge is kidding themselves - plus let's not forget that Nisku and the airport are probably the biggest beneficiaries of the overpass more than SEC - but oh they are in the region so of course they should just sit back and know that Edmonton will pay their way, once again. The whole regional free ride is getting ridiculous.

I can never quite get what makes someone as self-loathing as Waugh's and his whole "I hate Mandel/Edmonton/etc/etc/" diatribe but enough already - finally the Mayor was talking about how serious the problem is and it would be nice if our supposed pro Edmonton premier actually seemed to give a hoot.

It should give no one any comfort to think that the best our province (via their new mouthpiece) can come up with in response to a serious problem is that they find it amusing and political.

Last time I saw any polls it was clear, the Premier's the only one who's got reason for concern.

DebraW
31-08-2007, 09:37 AM
Mayor Mandel should zip his lip

Fri, August 31, 2007
By Neil Waugh

Mayor Stephen Mandel's bewildering decision to suddenly transform himself into a political tough guy is clearly a lose-lose situation for Edmontonians.

It's particularly true when the fellow he is opposing, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, appears to be holding all the aces.

Certainly city council sent a strong message to the provincial government when it voted 12 - 1 to proceed with the 23 Avenue/Calgary Trail interchange despite not having the necessary cash.

And council dispatched the mayor cap-in-hand to the legislature to literally beg and plead for the $130 million needed to unclog the city's worst traffic bottleneck.

As Mandel readily admitted, the provincial government is pretty well the sole source of funds for the project.

So why did he choose to go out of his way to pick a fight with the Stelmach government? It makes no sense.

Mandel decided to launch a pre-emptive strike even before the council vote, accusing the Stelmach Tories of forcing council to "rob Peter to pay Paul."

The mayor also claimed that Finance Minister Lyle Oberg was doing a "happy dance" after his recent first quarter budget update "while Alberta's cities are choking."

He has now teamed up with Calgary's malcontent Mayor Dave Bronconnier to meet with Stelmach next week.

Bronconnier has already made himself particularly unpopular around the legislature. Now Mandel appears to be going down the same dubious road.

It's dubious because an internal government briefing document revealed that Edmonton will receive over $1 billion in infrastructure cash this year.

That includes $110 million specifically "set aside" for 23 Avenue and another $717 million for the Anthony Henday expansions.

Edmonton is hardly getting "choked," to use the mayor's unwise words.

And when the premier talked about trying to find "pragmatic and thoughtful" solutions it's pretty clear help is on the way.

Last week Stelmach also dryly noted that the municipal election appears to be "in the air" with Mandel's change in tactics.

Those tactics come even though no credible opposition candidate to Mandel has yet emerged.

The mayor would be advised to become a lover, not a fighter, when he meets Stelmach next week.

Because, as Ralph Klein used to say about politics: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

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RichardS
31-08-2007, 09:56 AM
His calculated political strategy to pick a fight with the suburbs - and lay all the blame for Edmonton city council's shortcomings on St. Albert and the County of Strathcona - appears to have flopped badly.

Same with his plan to divert Refinery Row and Upgrader Alley taxes to Edmonton.

Mandel needs a new enemy, even though no credible candidate has stepped forward to question him on his record of potholes, snow clogged streets and a misbehaving police service.



I still laugh when I see this. Neil, I think it is time you got a bit of a grip on the reality here. THe regional debate is more than what you portray and there is overwhelming support for the new deals from ALL chambers of commerce. I'll say it again slowly so it sinks in....ALL....CHAMBERS.....OF....COMMERCE. Not some political fifedom-hugger or two.

...and as for no one running, gee Neil, could that be a sign of support? Could it be? Really? NAAAAAAAAH NEEEEEEVER.

Here is the reality Neil, people here are liking Mandel. The province knows a deal on the region is needed as the rest of the municipalities like PR and Red Deer and GP and god forbid Calgary are in the same boat. The lack of credible opposition is the reality that those who looked know they stand a snowball's chance in hell to defeat him. The regional deal is a topic that will not die for a myriad of reasons.

Deal Neil.

Sonic Death Monkey
31-08-2007, 10:11 AM
C'mon, Neil is still serving as unofficial propagandist for the provincial Tories and will firmly support them even if they're putting people into ovens.

grish
31-08-2007, 10:31 AM
I am seriously questioning what part of his body is Null thinking with.