Aug 10, 2008
Bishop assigns fox to guard hen house
Senate Republicans in Lansing are now holding the Transportation budget hostage in order to help out a rich benefactor.
House Bill 5808 sets funding for the Department of Transportation, and it’s the largest budget left undone for the 2008-09 fiscal year. The conference committee that will work out an agreement between the House and Senate version of the bill is set to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in room 426 of the Capitol. However, it appears unlikely an agreement will be reached. The sticking point is how to handle the issue of a new Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC).
Senate Republicans have supported the private, for profit Detroit International Bridge Company‘s plan, owned by Grosse Pointe transportation billionaire Matty Moroun, to build a second span adjacent to the current bridge. But officials in Canada have rejected that idea, saying it would add major congestion to Windsor, Ontario's downtown.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop named a special ad hoc panel to look into the DRIC question, chaired by Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt. Naming Cropsey to head that panel is like naming Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms to head a panel on Civil Rights.
Cropsey has long carried water for Moroun in his quest to keep his monopoly, and Cropsey appears to be the major obstacle in the budget being worked out in the conference committee. Cropsey said in the past there will be little negotiating unless the House adopts a resolution about DRIC that is sent to Congress and Governor Jennifer Granholm write a letter supporting a second Ambassador span.
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has come out in support of the U.S. location to be Detroit's Delray neighborhood. Canadian law says an international border crossing cannot be held by a private company, and they choose the Brighton Beach section in west-end Windsor as the Canadian crossing, adjacent to where MDOT wants the U.S. crossing to be located.
Even some prominent Republicans have backed MDOT’s and the Canadian proposal, such as Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.
Cropsey’s ad hoc panel has tentatively set a meeting for 10 a.m. Friday in the Capitol.