Dec 9, 2010

Respected Journalist continues to shine light on shady bridge deal

Veteran journalist Jack Lessenberry has done a great job documenting Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s, R-Rochester, attempts to block a vote on the planned and needed Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) on behalf of Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun, but Lessenberry’s column on Wednesday called “Leadership for Sale” spells out his obstruction in very clear language.

Lessenberry said Bishop’s decision to end legislative session three weeks before the end of the year and give lawmakers another long vacation with so much work that can be done is disgraceful.

“Anyone who tried to do that could be assured that Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop would block anything decent from happening,” he wrote. “…Want a perfect example of the failure of our democracy? Look at what happened last week with the proposed new Detroit River International Crossing Bridge. Virtually every business, labor and corporate interest wants a new bridge. Canada offered to front Michigan's costs, meaning we wouldn't have to pay a dime.”

The project will create 10,000 jobs, and it has the potential to create up to 35,000 jobs.

“Anyone who knows how desperate people are, with unemployment running out for hundreds of thousands, knows how badly needed those jobs are,” Lessenberry said. “But two men were determined to prevent them from happening. Bishop, of course, but he was a mere lackey of the real bloated spider of corruption: That would be Manuel J. "Matty" Moroun, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge, who doesn't want his monopoly threatened.
Moroun, an 83-year-old billionaire and probably Detroit's worst slumlord (just think the hulking ruin of the old Michigan Central train station) sent forth his wage slaves and minions to block the new bridge. They lied, misrepresented, improperly seized city land, and most of all, got themselves the best government that their money can buy. Most of all, they showered politicians with cash contributions.”

The Moroun family spent more than $1 million in campaign cash in the last election cycle to keep their monopoly, but now that the election is over they, and their lobbying firm - Karoub Associates, have been courting the incoming freshman legislators.

Moroun has suffered a series of setbacks in court where campaign cash has less effect, so he is trying to go around the courts. One place where has lost has been in his attempt to use the Gateway project to begin building a second bridge and a new duty free shop, despite the fact that he has not received a single permit.

Last February Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Prentice Edwards ordered him to tear down the illegally constructed gas pumps and duty-free store built on property owned by the city of Detroit.

The $170 million Gateway Project will address long term congestion mitigation issues and provide direct access improvements between the Ambassador Bridge, I-75 and I-96.

Last month Governor-elect Rick “Chief Executive Outsourcer” Snyder met with the so-called bipartisan Freshman Caucus. The event was held at the lobbying firm Karoub Associates and sponsored by the Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge and Nora Moroun, wife of bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun.

Subscription only MIRS is also reporting that Karoub has been sponsoring trips for incoming freshman to tour the site of the Gateway project.

Karoub Associates lobbyist Jim Crawford “confirmed about eight in-coming representatives and senators took the trip several weeks ago and another delegation of three or four new members will make the journey next Tuesday at 8 a.m.”



A few facts you missed out on.

Bishop's position was simple. MDOT did not provide any of the required information to demonstrate that the DRIC project was financially viable even though they were legally required to do so.

Four Legislators asked the AG to investigate alleged misrepresentations and withholding of information.

As structured, taxpayers could be on the hook for billions since toll revenues were insufficient to pay the costs.

There WAS a vote to take the P3 Bill out of Committee and the DRIC supporters lost.

Moroun's campaign contributions that are legal to make and that are available for all to see pale beside that of the $550 Million Canada loan which was ONLY available if the Canada-required Bill was passed. That Bill provided little legislative oversight and made Canada an Instrumentality of the State of Michigan ie sovereignty was lost.

Moroun's project does require people to build it, surprise, surprise, so jobs will be created.

How terrible to show Legislators the project. Better that they remain ignorant and listen to DRIC supporters!

Communications guru said...

A few facts you missed out on.

MDOT did provide “the required information to demonstrate that the DRIC project was financially viable.”

You call that a vote? Every Republican voted no. That was a vote just to consider it, not an up or down vote.

No one said Moroun's campaign contributions that are not legal, but like Rich Robinson said, it’s "a form of legalized bribery.”

Moroun's project will never be built, and you know it.

Seriously? “Better that they remain ignorant and listen to DRIC supporters?” How about listening to the courts that told him he has to tear down his illegally constructed gas pumps and duty-free store?