The Lansing Shocker
Just like the Michigan Governor took everyone by surprise, so did the Legislative Branches in Michigan with their budget amendments which effectively will kill DRIC.
Oh I have already heard theories about how their decision can be circumvented (and NO, the Governor cannot veto it if it is structured properly) but the new Director of MDOT, if he wants to remain in his position, will not try that kind of a stunt so soon after Gloria Jeff was replaced! I assume that he is smart enough not to tempt Fate by trying to play games with the Republican majority when the Democratic Governor is not assured of re-election!
I was quite amused by the suggestion I heard that the US Federal Government and the Canadian Federal Government should carry on and pay the bills for DRIC to help out MDOT. Don't bureaucrats understand their role? If they want to be policy-makers, let them run for office!
Don't they understand politics? Do they really think that a Federal Republican party is going to do something that undercuts the Michigan Republican party majority in the House and Senate and potentially take away an issue for the Republican candidate who might defeat the Democratic Governor! Politics is thicker than water, even the Detroit River.
The message came through loud and clear---the Legislators did NOT like what they heard from the Bureaucrats both at MDOT and from the Feds at FHWA! Excessive study fees, spending of $1.5 billion of taxpayer money, no $2 billion matching grants, a decade of effort at the Ambassador Gateway and the Bridge Co. not needing a Presidential permit all combined together to tell a powerful story that a Legislator would have a hard time explaining away to a constituent whose roads had potholes!
Even if she could, I doubt if the Governor would dare veto what the House and Senate want. After all, it was her Administration that made a mess out of everything, or that is how the Republicans will portray it to voters. She needs to take a bold step if she wants to regain the momentum and appear decisive as she did when she killed off the Downriver and the East crossings on her own. She needs to act quickly.
The big winner politically in Michigan in all of this has to be the Mayor of Detroit. He can sit back now and let the Democrats and Republicans chase after him for his support. And this is just one issue that they will have to deal with him on before the November election.
What about Canada? This has to be a set-back for those who tried to push through Bill C-3! All of a sudden the best laid plans of mice and bureaucrats have gone awry! It was clear from Lansing that MDOT was pushing for a public bridge, half of which would be owned by them and the other half by Canada. Visons of dollars from tolls and finally defeating the Bridge Co. dancing in their heads. Bill C-3 was being rushed through on the Canadian side. Get it passed before the allegedly "pro-business" Conservatives figured out what was going on! DRIC was the tool to justify what they were doing. Now it is gone.
MDOT and FHWA made a tactical mistake....their actions forced the Legislators to hold Committee meetings which allowed the Ambassador Bridge President to set the facts out that the bureaucrats did not want Legislators to know. Canada presumably will let him speak as well on the Bill C-3 Committee hearings. I am sure that if Dan Stamper speaks, he will shock some of the MPs when they hear what he has to say. The misinformation being spread should cease at that moment and they will have to face a reality! Michigan legislators did and took action. Will the Canadian MPs have the same intestinal fortitude to tell the bureaucrats where to go!
Does the ending of DRIC help Eddie? Frankly, who cares. He is irrelvant in this matter now. Councillor Valentinis is right. No one listens to Windsor any more. He lost his big re-election foe too. He does not have DRIC to bash around. And for some of the Councillors----maybe now they will get the guts to take some direct action as the previous Council did rather than sitting around doing nothing. Some of them should be worried too that they do not have DRIC to be their "friend" and salvation for re-election.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper should be laughing. The Michigan Legislators did the job for him. He should be agreeing with what they did and should be saying that the process that the Liberals started, another wasteful exercise by the previous Government, is over and done with.
He now has the ability to take charge and act decisively. He should do what should have been done years ago---build the damn road to the bridge already! There is $300 million sitting there. He should commit to doing something now and do it thereby reducing unemployment in Windsor. Eddie won't dare stop him or he would be run out of the City on one of the rails that he wants to turn into trails! It means the possibility, if Harper plays it right, of winning 2 seats here!
Finally, there is the Bridge Co. They won! And we all knew they would. (Oh DRTP is still pretending that they are still able to build a crossing but we know that will never happen). Who will make the first move to talk to them? Someone had better do it, and soon. As time passes, there is less of a need for them to talk to anyone as their project moves forward.
That is the real tragedy for Eddie and Windsor. Had Eddie dealt with them early on and taken them up on their offer made publicly to partner with the City, Eddie would have been able to achieve everything he wanted for himself, personally as a career move, and for Windsor. Our City would have been the big winner with a new efficiently-operating border crossing that would attract tourists and business investment.
As it is now, Eddie will be a one-term wonder, having failed at his major election platform task. (A City Hall insider confided to me recently that the City has no plans for the border)
Who knows what the future will bring for us as the East-West corridor keeps on growing as bureaucrats try to figure out how to prevent the Bridge Co. from moving forward! And do you know what....Perhaps that was the Bureaucrats' real plan after all.