New Gateway to the Ambassador Bridge — and why it’s opening years late
Published: September 26, 2012
Lawyers for the company claimed that they were told in a secret meeting that Edwards would continue to rule against the DIBC as long as it kept trying to prevent the new bridge from being built.
There's never been a shred of any real evidence that claim besmirching the character and ethics of Edwards had any basis in reality.
It was, rather, just one more example of a company willing to say and do anything in order to get what it wants. (You may recall that this is the same company that spent years in court trying to keep control of a piece of public parkland it had absolutely no right to.)
But the sleazeball tactics didn't work. Instead of succumbing to the DIBC slime-hurling, Edwards removed the company from the project completely, ordering it to cough up $16 million and putting the work in the hands of MDOT to complete.
The result was that, in just over six months, Pier 19 was removed, the work was completed as originally designed, and the suits were putting on hard hats and vests to attend last week's ceremony.
As far as we can tell, the company's appeals have all been exhausted. No higher court bought the feeble contention that Edwards had made any improper rulings.
In fact, the only court action that remains is one brought by the state, which is claiming that the company owes the state in excess of $1 million, according to an MDOT spokesman.
So, other than the joy felt by the residents of southwest Detroit and truckers alike now that Gateway is finally done, why is any of this all that pertinent?
Because the same folks who wasted much time and money trying to defend an indefensible position in court are now attempting to convince Michigan voters that the DIBC and its owners are trying to protect hard-working citizens from the perfidy of the governor and state bureaucrats.
Gov. Rick Snyder fully supports construction of what's being called the New International Trade Crossing. Because the DIBC's lobbying and campaign contributions succeeded in having the effort languish in the Legislature, Snyder found a way to move the project ahead on his own.
The DIBC responded by placing on the ballot Proposal 6, a measure that seeks to amend the state constitution so that any international bridge or tunnel project must clear the hurdle of a statewide vote before being constructed.
Having succeeded in collecting the signatures necessary to get "The People Should Decide" on the November ballot, the company is spending millions to convince people that they should vote for it.
The seemingly omnipresent commercials urging a "yes" vote never mention that the DIBC and its owners are desperate to fend off competition to the near-monopoly they enjoy, generating an estimated $60 million a year in revenue as a result. Instead, they keep claiming that the proposed ballot measure is an attempt to protect hard-working taxpayers from getting screwed.
Central to this argument is the claim that, contrary to the position of just about everyone not connected to the DIBC, Canada won't really be paying all construction costs for the new span and then recouping the money from tolls in years to come. Instead, say the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, Michigan taxpayers are secretly being put on the hook.
To the surprise of absolutely no one at all familiar with how the DIBC and the Morouns do business, an independent watchdog has repeatedly declared that the Prop. 6 campaign is built on a foundation of lies.
Just last week, the "referees" at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Michigan Truth Squad flagged the proponents of what's officially known as Proposal 6 with another "flagrant foul."
This is what the watchdogs have to say:
"The battle over a second bridge is about money — the Moroun family's money. ... There is a reason that the family interests have spent millions in campaign contributions, lobbying efforts and TV ads in recent years to stop the NITC [New International Trade Crossing] project — not to mention what sums have been spent by Moroun interests in legal challenges to the project.
"Michigan voters may want to ask themselves one question: Why are Moroun family interests spending millions to 'protect' the average taxpayer?"
Here's the bottom line, according to the Truth Squad, about the campaign being waged by the Morouns, who are trying to convince you that a new bridge will result in the firings of teachers, police officers and firefighters as a cash-strapped state struggles to pay for a bridge that will create a massive debt burden for future generations:
"These ads repeat claims, or advance new variants of old claims, that do not match available documents. The agreement with Canada puts the financial onus on Michigan's neighbor, not Michigan, for paying the bills, including interest. Since Michigan is not appropriating construction dollars, no dollars are being diverted away from other public uses. Michigan is not increasing its debt load with the NITC project."
This is where the grand opening of the Gateway Project and the campaign for Prop. 6 merge:
The Moroun family and the DIBC spent years delaying completion of a much-needed project that will benefit many because they were trying to further their own narrow self-interests.
Now, having lost that battle, they are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to deceive voters across the state, trying to con them into believing that the DIBC and the Moroun clan really care about the people of Michigan.
The lesson to be learned from the court battle over Gateway is this:
The bridge company and its owners will do and say just about anything to get their way.
And they cannot be trusted to look out for the public's interest.
News Hits is written by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com.
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