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    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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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.

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