Trending
Most Read
  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com. Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

Calendar

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Feature

Bridge boom-doggle

Regulatory change would allow hazmats on Ambassador

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2013:01:22 05:36:25


There are two family-owned businesses that provide a way to move trucks across the river between Detroit and Windsor. One is big, well-known and politically powerful, the other small and relatively obscure.

Now one of them is seeking a regulatory change that, if approved, would likely put the other out of business.

Should the rest of us care?

Definitely.

Here’s what’s going on:

The Detroit International Bridge Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge and is controlled by billionaire Manuel “Matty” Moroun and his family, is currently prohibited from allowing trucks carrying hazardous materials from using the aging span that connects Detroit and Windsor.

That’s been the law since the Ambassador Bridge was built in 1929.

Because trucks can’t use the tunnel running under the Detroit River, the only legal way to transport hazardous materials across this crucial border crossing is the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry, located near Zug Island, downriver from the Ambassador.

John Ward and his son Gregg started the ferry operation on Earth Day in 1990.

“We chose this start-up date … to symbolize our commitment to environmental stewardship and a belief that marine transportation can reduce highway congestion, air pollution and consumption of finite fossil fuels,” Gregg Ward told Congress back in 2007, when he offered testimony about border security in regard to transportation issues, calling for more government oversight.

At the time, he pointed out the risks inherent in having a private company controlling a link as vital to trade and the economy as the Ambassador, which carries 25 percent of all the goods moving across the border between the United States and Canada.

“Notwithstanding [the Ambassador Bridge’s] importance,” Ward stated in his testimony, “the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the state of Michigan do not physically inspect the Ambassador Bridge. They are told by the private owners of the Ambassador Bridge … that government has no such authority.”

In that regard, nothing has changed in the five years since Ward made that testimony.

What has changed is that the bridge company has proposed that it be allowed to transport hazardous material, and the Michigan Department of Transportation, after conducting a review, is recommending that it be allowed to do so.

Those of a cynical bent could see the ferry service’s objections to the plan as being self-serving. Certainly, Gregg Ward doesn’t pull any punches when asked what would happen to his family’s business if the Ambassador is opened up to trucks carrying the sorts of hazardous materials — explosives, gases, flammable substances, poisonous materials and more — that currently come across the river on his company’s barges.

“It would put us out of business,” Ward says.

So, sure, there is self-interest involved.

But if you ask the people of southwest Detroit about the two family-owned companies, most will likely say the same thing as community activist Deb Sumner.

The owners of the ferry service, she says, are model corporate citizens.

“I’ve always felt that Gregg speaks from the heart,” says Sumner, who previously worked for the nonprofit Southwest Detroit Business Association. “He’s a truthful person.”

And the bridge company?

“They’ve lied to us about things straight out for years and years and years. Anything that comes out of their mouths is suspect.”

We called bridge company president Dan Stamper for comment, but he didn’t get back to us. That could be because, like Sumner, we here at the Hits have long been critical of Matty Moroun and his minions.

Besides that, self-interested or not, Ward raises points that are undeniable. Among the most pertinent of them is this: As it is now, the only thing that keeps the Detroit International Bridge Co. from having a complete monopoly over cross-border truck traffic between Detroit and Windsor is the ferry service. Without those barges going back and forth, there would be no other option.

None.

And that, from any perspective other than that of the DIBC itself, can’t be seen as a good thing.

When the bridge was temporarily shut down immediately after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the ferry kept operating, prompting General Motors to write a letter to U.S. customs officials, stating, “The Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry became our only alternative that would enable General Motors to continue operation of the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant.”

More recently, the ferry was able to keep trucks moving across the river when the Ambassador was temporarily closed after receiving a bomb threat last summer. The same thing was true just last week as hundreds of people participating in the Idle No More protests, taking place across Canada to support First Nations rights, “gathered at the Ambassador Bridge to temporarily snarl transport-truck traffic at the busiest border crossing in the country,” according to a Canadian Press report.

It is called “redundancy,” and the need for it is one of the primary reasons the state of Michigan, along with the Canadian government, are pushing ahead with plans to build a new publicly owned bridge near where the ferry is located.

The ferry also allows for the transport of things too big or heavy to cross the Ambassador, such as auto company presses and massive wind turbines.

So you don’t need to be the owner of the ferry to see that its service is a vital one, and that its loss would pose a real threat to Michigan’s economy.

But there’s more to the issue than just that.

Among those expressing concern over MDOT’s recommended approval of the bridge company’s proposal is state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat who represents southwest Detroit.

“Given the age and security requirements of the Ambassador Bridge, opening it up for transport of dangerous hazmat, as the [MDOT] report suggests, endangers the public,” Tlaib warned in a message sent to constituents.

The crucial thing here is that approval hasn’t yet been granted. Tlaib is calling for a public hearing to be held before any decision is made. That seems likely to happen.

In addition, the public comment period remains open. If you’d like to weigh in, contact Robert H. Parsons, Public Involvement Officer, MDOT, PO Box 30050, Lansing, MI 48909. Parsons can also be reached via email at parsonsb@michigan.gov and by fax at 517-373-9255.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus