Matty's money pit
Now that the people have decided, the bridge baron balks
Published: November 14, 2012
As the election results arrived last week, few outcomes gave the malcontents here at the Hits more satisfaction than Manuel "Matty" Moroun's Proposal 6 had been thoroughly rejected by voters.
We don't care whether that rejection was the result of confusion caused by a surplus of ballot measures and a mass of conflicting advertising that prompted voters to say "no" to all measures.
It's enough that one billionaire and his family — the owners of the Ambassador Bridge — couldn't con the people of this state into voting against their own best interest in order to help the Morouns maintain their virtual monopoly over cross-boarder truck traffic between Detroit and Windsor.
Instead, voters, in a roundabout way, provided support to Gov. Rick Snyder and his efforts to build a publicly owned bridge (that would be financed by the Canadian government!) downriver in the Delray area.
By some estimates, the Morouns spent as much as $40 million to have their greedy way with us, and they failed spectacularly.
But anyone who thinks the rebuke is going to stop the Morouns from continuing to fight the new bridge doesn't know Matty, a guy who apparently never learned the meaning of the word "no."
Once the election results were in, Mickey Blashfield, director of government affairs for the Moroun's bridge company and head of the ballot committee that attempted to halt construction of what's now being called the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), issued a statement that, in part, declared:
"It is clear the voters resisted amending the constitution, but it would be a mistake to assume taxpayers support a flawed government bridge that puts taxpayers at risk. Proposal 6 successfully invited public scrutiny of the $3.5 billion government proposal. We have full confidence that the citizens, legislature, and financial community will continue to hold any bridge to its promises of 'not one dime of taxpayer money.'"
He concluded by saying:
"If the governmental proposal doesn't collapse from the weight of legal and congressional scrutiny, the NITC will never be built over unstable salt mine foundations, where land speculators are lining up to get rich on the government's tab."
The salt mine issue is, by all appearances, another bridge company red herring.
We're more interested in the phrase "legal and congressional scrutiny."
We're not sure that even Matty and his well-heeled kin have enough cash to purchase a majority of Congress, but we do know that, whether he has any real foundation, he is more than willing to spend his money tying things up in court as long as the courts will let him get away with it.
In the long run, we don't think this is a battle he can win. But that's not gong to stop him from fighting on and on and on.
News Hits is written by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com.
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