Me Against The World
I admit it. I just cannot do it on my own anymore. There is too much going on for one person to deal with.
It is overwhelming. If you think $60 million for the DRIC study is a lot of money as the total cost for both sides of the river, you have not even scratched the surface when you add in the cost of all these other people.
What blew my mind is a BLOG I was going to do on some materials I read in the media and then Chris Schnurr just posted his new BLOG on the financial fallout on Macquarie and the bridge in British Columbia which they were supposed to finance.
I can tell Chris the answer to his question: “I wonder why the Windsor Star did not publish this” ie the B.C. bridge story. Their sister publication the Vancouver Sun did:
- “Port Mann Bridge financing thrown into question
Private builders struggling to raise money, ask Victoria for more time
Vancouver Sun, January 15, 2009
The private consortium chosen as the best suited to twin the Port Mann Bridge is struggling to raise money for the project, and has told the B.C. government it needs more time before it can finalize a deal.
The deal -- a public-private partnership or P3 -- was supposed to be completed earlier this month, but on Wednesday, Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon confirmed the deadline has been extended to early February.”
If the Star had published this story, it would have killed the DRIC project’s financial underpinnings and made it look less likely that the Governments can finance a bridge in this area. After all, they have to pay out trillions of dollars to save the banks, auto companies and who knows who else as well as giving taxpayers breaks so we’ll go out and start spending.
I certainly would not want to be the MDOT representative who has to go to the Republicans and convince them that P3 legislation is required now. Clearly, the Senate Republicans were right.
To be honest, there is too much to write about. Let me give you a few examples.
The Free Press did an Editorial saying:
- “The state and the privately owned Ambassador Bridge would best serve Michigan's transportation and economic interests by cooperating instead of competing. Ideally, the Ambassador, with its capital and expertise, should become a partner in building a publicly owned crossing.”
I agree on the cooperation part but why would the Bridge Company want to give up their business to the Governments for free. That seems rather foolish even for a newspaper Editor to suggest. It is pretty clear that the Editor has no idea what he’s talking about:
- “Suits that delay or stop the DRIC bridge, approved by a coalition of Ontario, Michigan, U.S. and Canadian governments, might serve the Ambassador's private business interests, but not the broader public interest.”
Yes dear Editor, they should just roll over and allow the business that they have built up that made the crossing #1 in North America and helped our region to be effectively expropriated by the Governments without receiving a penny. Not only that, the way the P3 is to be structured, the Bridge Company would have to finance a new bridge and effectively put up the money to put themselves out of business.
The Editor continued:
- “It's time the bridge company met with the Michigan Department of Transportation to discuss how best to handle the region's long-term border crossing needs."
I agree with that sentiment. However, he should have added in the Canadian Governments who seem to be unable and unwilling to meet with the Company and the City of Windsor who throws up roadblocks to stop everything that they are trying to do.
Then there was an opinion piece in the Toledo Blade. Why is that newspaper important? A Michigan Senator on Senator Cropsey’s Committee lives right across the border from Toledo. After smearing the Bridge Company, the point of the article is set out in the following terms:
- “Michigan should now take the lead in smoothing the way for the new bridge. Funding remains a sticking point, and those involved in the crossing project might best be encouraged to come up with a creative partnership to seek private funds for what needs to be an essentially public enterprise.”
In other words, Republican Senators pass P3 legislation in Michigan.
If the writer of the piece would have read some of the articles from our West Coast, or even some of the BLOGs from Windsor, he/she would know now how stupid his/her comments are.
What about the Jack Layton/Brian Masse story in the Windsor Star. What an embarrassment for the NDP leader. His MP believes that he is too dumb to understand the border issue so that he has to shut him up.
- “Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton was advised in briefing notes to dodge and deflect questions on the GreenLink versus DRIC Parkway debate during a brief stop in Windsor Wednesday.”
Poor Brian, he has lost all credibility now with his supporters. He continues to support Eddie on Greenlink. However, people who don’t have a Government salary, a Government pension and who need to work think otherwise:
- “The tension that exists between city politicians and construction workers and unions desperate for the thousands of jobs these infrastructure projects are expected to create was highlighted in each synopsis.
"The province, the construction association and the construction unions support the 'Windsor Parkway' for the access route to the new crossing while the City Council and the Mayor support the 'Green Link' instead," said the note. "The unions have purchased radio ads attacking city council. The mayor is in a very public dispute with the provincial government. (Brian will handle this issue if it comes up.)"
Maybe Brian should just work on the Junction issue instead. Brian made his choice: Eddie not people desperate for jobs. He should be tossed out at the next election. Are you listening Joyce?
And another story in Toll Road News:
- “A USDOT spokesman told us Michigan DOT (MDOT) is taking the lead and is expected to develop a plans for advancing the project over the next few months. Bill Shreck of MDOT said that like the Canadians they favor a private sector toll concession to build the bridge and will be moving to get supporting state legislation during the course of the year. They will want general legislation for P3s and also legislation specifically authorizing the downriver bridge.
Canadian and US officials express some frustration at delays at MDOT, which has been promising action within the year since 2005.”
It is clear now as I have suggested that Canada is pushing this matter. It is part of a 50 year old effort to Canadianize the Ambassador Bridge.
But here is the good part. Our Transport Canada officials already know that a P3 project would not work (no investment grade traffic survey provided yet, not until June, 2009) and hid that information from the Americans. Obviously, they knew that from what is going on in British Columbia yet they allowed our Federal Minister of Finance to make a fool of himself when he advocated for Public/Private Partnerships recently at a P3 conference. Nothing like losing one’s credibility at a time of economic disaster.
- “Ontario Ministry of Transport plan to finance their Windsor Essex Parkway with an availability payments or shadow toll project. They have decided against tolls. Their procurement could begin with RFI/RFQ before the final environmental clearance in the autumn, with the RFP towards the end of the year.
Transport Canada and Michigan DOT officials say they hope to be able to move for a toll concession procurement for the bridge and its approaches around the end of this year. But this depends on the Michigan legislature granting the necessary authority.”
I predicted this, remember and I was right!
P3’s are dead. I warned about shadow tolls in the past as Schnurr’s BLOG pointed out. If they are implemented, wait until you see the lawsuits over that. That in itself could delay any project for years given the politics involved! Softwood lumber would be child's play.
If the Australians who have been courting MDOT think they have a snowball’s chance in getting this project, then they are deluding themselves. After all, former Senator Fortier “rejoins Ogilvy Renault, the blueblood Montreal-based law firm where he got his start in 1985, as a partner specializing in mergers and acquisitions...” His former partner there has a new job too:
- “Jacques Demers, a former senior partner with Ogilvy Renault LLP in Toronto. was recently hired by OMERS to be the president and CEO of OMERS Strategic Investments.”
Smart move on OMERS's part too but soooooooo obvious.
I’m so worn out now with all of the stories that all I can do is let you know a bit about this one:
- “Tories want to cut environmental corners: NDP
By Juliet O'Neill, Canwest News Service January 22, 2009
OTTAWA - The federal government is considering the elimination of environmental assessments on millions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects across the country, says a document leaked to the New Democratic Party.
NDP environment critic Linda Duncan, an Edmonton MP, cited the document at a news conference Thursday, accusing the federal government of “gutting” environmental protection and falsely claiming the environmental assessments slow down infrastructure projects too much.
One measure would exempt projects under $10 million from environmental assessment. Another would eliminate one level of assessment, either federal or provincial, on bigger projects…
While those measures are described as “short-term measures to assist in the implementation of infrastructure projects,” the document also says the government wants a new law governing the assessment agency as early as March or April. That law would focus on major projects and streamline and co-ordinate assessments with the provinces.”
So much for all of that money that we have wasted on Schwartz, Estrin, Parsons Brinckerhoff and other consultants. So much for listening to their harangues and Eddie’s lullaby. It is obvious now that they are completely irrelevant as if that was not true before.
Last but not least here is the one that ices the cake. There is the Windsor Star story involving a suggestion made by Councillor Loopy. It is the perfect ending to this BLOG:
- “With President Barack Obama set to make his first international visit to Canada next month, Coun. Percy Hatfield feels it’s a perfect time for the new leader to check out Windsor.
He extended an official invitation during Monday’s city council meeting.”
The Councillor may not know it but the President is coming to this area along with the Prime Minister but not for the reason that he thinks. Those two top Government Officials will be coming here to cut the ribbon for the start of construction of the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project for which all permits and approvals will be obtained much sooner than anyone anticipates.
Please, dear reader, have mercy on me. I will do the best that I can but seriously, who can follow the twists and turns and make sense out of this anymore? I am exhausted!