Moroun family lies
The judge’s jailing order was hardly capricious or unexpected
Published: January 18, 2012
When the people of southwest Detroit agreed to support the Gateway Project, it wasn't because they relished the idea of a massive new truck plaza in their back yard. Instead, they said, they were willing to accept that in return for the promise that thousands of trucks rolling down their streets, and making their lives miserable, would be removed as a daily nuisance.
That is why some people sitting in the courtroom applauded when Edwards said Moroun and Stamper would be going to jail.
Or at least part of the reason.
Because the frustration experienced by the residents of southwest Detroit isn't due just to the Gateway Project fiasco. It is born of decades of dealing with a company that repeatedly acts as if it were above the law and beholden to nothing but its own bottom line.
That is why a group of area residents took the law into their own hands and tore down a fence the bridge company had illegally erected in Riverside Park, commandeering a piece of public property that it wanted to use in order to build that hoped-for second bridge.
Although one judge had already ruled that the company was obligated to remove the fence, the DIBC did what it is so adept at: it stalled by tying the matter up in yet another court.
The same sort of anger and frustration were on display late last year when area residents, joined by supporters of the Occupy movement, marched en masse on the Ambassador, briefly shutting it down.
That's what happens when government and the courts don't enforce the law. Denied justice, people will take it upon themselves to set things right.
It is difficult to imagine a family more politically powerful than the Morouns. Single-handedly, they were able to buy off enough of the state Legislature to forestall approval of a publicly owned bridge that would threaten the virtual monopoly they now enjoy.
It takes real guts to stare that sort of power in the face, and then put it in its rightful place. And in this case, that place should be behind bars, because Moroun and Stamper are the public face of an outlaw company.
The pair has won a reprieve, with a three-member panel of the state Court of Appeals ordering the two men released pending their appeal of Edwards' order.
After Edwards decided that jail was needed to "coerce” Moroun and Stamper into making sure the DIBC fulfills its obligation to complete the Gateway Project as designed, more than a few people pointed to the jailing of a billionaire as proof that no one is above the law, no matter how wealthy and powerful they might be.
But with the two men gaining their release after spending just one night behind bars — having chowed down on a specially catered meal provided by the swank Detroit Athletic Club instead of the standard jail fare — we remain skeptical.
This much is clear, though: When it comes to the Gateway Project, real justice has yet to arrive for the beleaguered residents of southwest Detroit in particular, and taxpayers in general. It won't be achieved until the project is completed as designed.
If attaining that goal means putting Moroun and Stamper back in jail, then we can only hope that other judges have the same sort of integrity and fortitude Prentis Edwards displayed last week.
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