Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, February 11, 2010

$3 Billion Border Fallout

Note to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

$3 Billion for the Ambassador Bridge is a bargain in the end even though it may seem way too high. Your friends haved really hurt you financially.

Grab it while you can. The price just keeps on going higher and higher as time passes and will continue to do so. Heck, it is YOUR DRIC guys who push the price up by keeping on insisting that bridge traffic will double. That in itself is worth a fortune for the Bridge valuation. It doubles revenues after all and that increases the price.

Oh, you are stuck, PM. The DRIC guys have no choice now. If they claim that volumes will never reach that number, then why do you need a DRIC bridge at all?

You cannot win.

You do need to tell John Baird to pause a minute in giving out goodies to taxpayers and control his staff. They are causing all kinds of valuation issues for you:

  • "But a spokesman for Transport Minister John Baird [James Kusie] says...the government remains committed to the building of a new bridge, as additional capacity is needed to support the anticipated growth in border traffic.

    Officials have been working for years to add capacity at the world's busiest border crossing, now served by the current bridge and a tunnel that runs under the river."

  • "Mark Butler, spokesman for Transport Canada, said he was very limited in what information he could release...

    The statement added that the Canadian government does still see a need for a second span between Detroit and Windsor.

    "The government of Canada remains committed to the building of a new bridge between Windsor and Detroit as additional capacity is needed along with corridor to support the anticipated growth in border traffic."

They may be singing from the same songbook but it is those royalties that will cost you big time, PM.

The fallout from the laughable story about Canada wanting to buy a Ambassador Bridge is happening much more quickly than I thought possible.

No one wants to be associated with it now because it proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that DRIC was nothing more than a means by which the Governments want to force the Bridge Company out of business at a very cheap price.

Man, those lawsuits will be very interesting now. I wonder how good people's memories will be under oath with a risk of jail for perjury. Does that help explain why certain people decided to "move on?"

Did you see this Windsor Star story:

  • "Second bridge a 'priority,' west-end activist says"

I actually sent the reporter a note asking the reporter why he also did not do a story:

  • "Second bridge a 'fraud,' south-Windsor Blogger says"

Mary Ann Cuderman is always good for an anti-Moroun quote. It probably will take time for her and the other West End Activists and politicos to figure out that Canada made fools of them since, in effect, they have said by their offer that the ideal crossing location is right beside the existing Bridge.

All of the so-called negatives of an enhanced Ambassador Bridge crossing were lies if the Government would buy out the bridge. They could not tear it down so obviously they would build a second bridge there. Don't tell me that on top of that they would also spend billions for a competitive DRIC bridge when there is no hope of a huge increase in traffic volumes. No P3 investor would finance it either.

All those DRIC Community meetings at the Holiday Inn for nothing but at least the strawberry tarts were good, when they had them.

The finger-pointing is unbelievable. No one could ever write a movie about all this taking place because no one would believe that it was credible. No government could ever act this way without being thrown out of office by irate taxpayers. Oh, that may happen once this story gets wider circulation.

Let me talk about a number of items in no particular order to demonstrate that no Government should ever be allowed to be in charge of the border crossing. They can’t even run a smear campaign properly.


Is there a conflict of interest law in Michigan that applies to politicians? Are they allowed to be in a conflict of interest position, or an apparent one, without any penalty?

Take Governor Granholm for instance… and I know that a number of Michiganders would say, Please.

Her Hubby was retained by the the City of Windsor to help out with its dysfunctional Mayor and Council a number of years ago yet the City was a proponent on the Border file both as Owner of the Tunnel and as the opponent of the Bridge Company.

She can talk out of both sides of your mouth it seems and say that the Bridge Company Enhancement Project is her number one priority and then a spokesperson says in the Detroit media:

  • "Gov. Jennifer Granholm's "is fully supportive and shares the view that the DRIC must move forward quickly, as both an essential part of our transportation network and as a project that will create thousands of jobs in our state," spokeswoman Megan Brown said."

Does she have the faintest idea what she is saying or does she even care now that she is job-hunting as a term-limited Governor? For something so important to her, there was no word of it in her SOS speech.

What about former Governor Blanchard… does he have a conflict of interest? I would think that he has one now. We learn from the media today that:

  • “James Blanchard who has acted as a consultant for the state of Michigan as well as the governments of Canada and the United States”

I think he has a very serious problem. To whom does he owe his loyalty now that Canada and Michigan are on different sides?

He seems to be extremely knowledgeable about the terms of a possible offer to buy the Bridge

  • “According to Blanchard, no new initiatives on the possible sale have been pushed forward since July…

    Moroun had asked for $3 billion for the Ambassador plus a percentage of the tolls from the Blue Water Bridge and the go-ahead to build a new bridge that would connect Buffalo, N.Y., and Canada, Blanchard said.”

But wait a minute. We were told by Bill Shreck of MDOT that they knew nothing about the dealings going on between Canada and the Bridge Company.

  • "State officials were unaware Monday of discussions regarding a potential Ambassador sale to Canada by Moroun.

    "It's news to us," said Bill Shreck, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

    "That's very interesting, but we haven't been privy to any of this. And I'm sure we wouldn't be until it's farther along."

Does that mean that the ex-Governor of Michigan chose to work for Canada and did not tell his other client, the State, what was going on? He was helping Canada end-run Michigan while getting money from Michigan.

And was he hiding a potential Dubai Ports issue from his other client, the US Government, something that could blow up in President Obama's face: Canada buying the most important border land crossing between Canada and the US!

Absolutely unbelievable.

He obviously knew everything but did he tell the State and the Feds anything? In effect, he helped one partner, Canada, undercut the other partners, the US and Michigan if he said nothing.

Is this how things work in the United States? It certainly would not work this way in Canada

But then again, why should anyone take seriously anything that the Ex-Governor has to say anyway:

  • “He emphasized, however, that his comments Tuesday were not on behalf of the Michigan Department of Transportation, the U.S. government or Transport Canada.”

I don’t understand this either. If he wasn’t speaking for anyone then why was he opening up his mouth to be interviewed? He was being put forward by someone to try and close down the embarrassment. He just opened up instead a new can of worms.

I would think that the other Governments who have hired him may want to ask if he may be in a conflict position with them on other aspects of the border file.


We know now that nothing was discussed between the parties since July. so why would the story just come out now? There has to be a reason for it.

  • "For now, talks appear off and have been for some time, people familiar with discussions told the Free Press on Tuesday."

  • "Blanchard said there's been no new movement on the possible sale of the 80-year-old structure since the summer talks.

    "I've checked with Transport Canada and with the Canadian embassy in Washington D.C., and they confirmed that there have been no new initiatives since last July," Blanchard said."

It is clear that this is part of the "Let's discredit Moroun" movement. Make it appear that he is greedy and all that he wants is a huge amount of money and to maintain his powers with no real interest in building a second bridge. That is why he is suing isn't it. To put roadblocks in front of the Governments so they will pay him outrageous sums of money.

Of course, no one knows where that amount came from except from ex-Governor Blanchard who works for all of Moroun's enemies. So we should take what he says as gospel?

However, we know that

  • "On Tuesday, Canadian officials confirmed that they had been in discussions to purchase the Ambassador Bridge from Moroun, but that no offer had been made."

  • "But some said Moroun wanted as much as $3 billion -- even though the cost of a new span would be substantially less. Other people couldn't confirm those accounts, however, and it was in doubt whether Moroun would ever give up the iconic span.

    "The bridge is not up for sale," bridge spokesman Phil Frame said."

  • The Free Press was unable to confirm reports that Moroun asked for $3 billion for the bridge."

But discrediting Moroun is something that DRIC tries all the time so what is happening new now to try and make him appear so bad?

That answer is obvious:

  • "MDOT chief: Time to get moving on a new bridge
    He says enough fighting, wants legislation by June

    Meanwhile, Michigan Transportation Director Kirk Steudle is moving ahead with plans for the new span Downriver, telling Free Press editors and writers Tuesday that he'll press state lawmakers to approve financing for the new bridge by June 1 -- over Moroun's objections.

    Plan for span is still on

    He called for legislation by June 1 that would clear the way for work to begin on the Detroit River International Crossing, or DRIC, about 2 miles south of the Ambassador Bridge, creating thousands of jobs and building what he said is needed capacity at the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing...

    I believe that the money will be there, both federal as well as private sector," said Joe Corradino, a longtime MDOT consultant. "You could create thousands of jobs and effectively benefit both sides of the border" with little or no initial cost to the state.

    Steudle urged legislators to step up momentum for the DRIC.

    "That's the most significant piece that needs to happen -- and it needs to happen by June 1 -- is the vote by the Legislature to say yes we're going to do this or no we don't," Steudle said."

Come on guys, give it up. Trying to terrorize Moroun just won't work.

Here is the game: If there is no agreement with Moroun to sell, then we need a new DRIC bridge now! That is why Steudle wants P3 legislation by June. Now THAT should pressure Moroun to sell at distress pricing.

As I commented on the Free Press site:

  • "No talks for a long time and then a big leak with a huge amount that Moroun never asked for...why?

    Obviously, another MDOT/Canada ploy to try and show that Moroun is greedy and that no deal can be done with him.

    Quick Legislature, give us by June P3 legislation so we can build a DRIC bridge even though traffic is not there, the P3 market is dead and Michigan cannot afford it.

    Canada's so-called offer just demonstrated that DRIC was a total lie and that the best location for a new bridge is right beside the Ambassador Bridge. DRIC was nothing more than a plot to force Moroun to sell out cheaply.

    Haven't the Governments figured out that he is not afraid of them and that it would be better to work with him since he is the best border operator in North America according to FHWA."


Seriously, why stay around? There won't be much money for road work if MDOT's vision works out. They will have to pay part of the cost for the Moroun Bridge or the US Government will veto it and then MDOT wants this on top:

  • "Steudle said the state is willing to partner with Moroun in managing the new bridge, but public oversight is considered crucial by both governments, who also want the location Downriver so both spans aren't affected by the same emergency situations."

What are we looking at here realistically, $8-10B for both bridges and enormous subsidies for these bridges and the Blue Water Bridge and the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel since traffic is at the 1999 levels. Half at least coming out of MDOT's and the Feds' road budgets

No road work in Michigan for a looooooong time when there is not enough money to do hundreds of projects now.

Oh sure, you doubt me. Then look at how Joe Corradino, a longtime MDOT consultant and DRIC consultant too so he has an interest in this tried to slide one by:

  • "I believe that the money will be there, both federal as well as private sector," said Joe Corradino, a longtime MDOT consultant. "You could create thousands of jobs and effectively benefit both sides of the border" with little or no initial cost to the state."

Hey Joe, it is not the "initial" costs that we are worrying about only, it is the "ongoing" too! And he knows too how the P3 operators will rip off the Governments and users. Take a look at the latest fiancial results from Highway 407 in Toronto


The Michigan Represntative is kind of cute with this remark:

  • "State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who represents the district where the bridge is located, said the sale of the bridge to the Canadians would be a breath of "fresh air," but added she doesn't think it's going to happen...

    "I'm not really sure that this is actually a legitimate move on their part; that they are serious. ... I'm pessimistic about this, but I would be very happy if it happened and people came to me and said, 'I told you so.' "

She just completely discredited herself and proved her opposition to an Enhancement Bridge is not based on facts or to help her constituents but being anti-Moroun.

You see, she is so concerned about health issues in SW Detroit. What has she said mind you about MDOT's DRIC, DIFT and the possibility of a DRTP Rail Tunnel:

  • "I can't believe how many people have health issues," said state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who grew up in the area and has asked Gov. Jennifer Granholm to order a state study on the cumulative effect of pollution in the area. "Of course poverty is an issue, but something else is going on."

Lots of issues if the Bridge Company has two bridges, especially environmental ones, but no concerns and "fresh air" if the Canadian Government does the exact same thing.

See what I mean Stephen. Do you really understand how ludicrous this all is. You are embarrassing yourself even more than you did in DC when you tried to endrun the President with the Congressional leaders. It really is so hopeless for you that even the Governor General cannot help you out.