Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Even More Border Stories

Can you believe it...more border stories


You as the Government have a only a finite amount of money. Should it be used to build an unnecessarily expensive DRIC road at a cost of billions or should it be used to help retro-fit trucks across Canada
  • "CTA urges feds to provide enviroTruck incentives in next budget"

    OTTAWA, Ont. -- The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has asked federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to help offset the costs of adopting environmentally-friendly transport technologies.

    The CTA suggested the feds include incentives to help encourage early adoption of technologies included in the organization’s enviroTruck concept. The Alliance says doing so will reduce pollution from trucks.

    CTA president David Bradley also took the opportunity to remind Flaherty of his previous election promise to reduce the federal excise tax on diesel by 50%. That promise went out the window when the world economy collapsed.

    Alternatively, the CTA said the feds could take an amount equal to the diesel tax cut and put it into tax credits for fleets looking to add green technologies to their equipment. That way, said Bradley, federal revenue would not be impacted yet the government could still contribute to helping the industry reduce its carbon footprint.


I guess that an MDOT employee took offence at my BLOG where I went after Michigan's Governor and suggested that she also might want to consider if certain MDOT people should still stay in their jobs over the toll credits controversy, [January 18, 2010 "Does MDOT Need New Leadership Now"]

Frankly, I think he was mad that I asked for a 10% finder's fee on the $1.6B of federal matching grants that were not being used.

Here is our exchange of emails:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010 7:23 PM
Subject: RE: Does MDOT Need New Leadership Now

In your blog today you posed the following question:

Consider this Detroit Free Press story and then explain to me
what other answer you have other than animosity or perhaps stupidity:

The answr today is that same as its been the last couple of years when this issue has come up in legislative hearings - toll credits do not work the way the DIBC says they do. However, I suspect you already know this.

As you further questioned later in your blog.

I sat there reading the story and not believing it. Why doesn't MDOT call
Moroun's bluff? Ask for the supporting materials. He would have to produce them
or suffer the consequences.

The simple answer is that MDOT has made more than one formal request, both before the DRIC study was initiated, and as a follow up to legislative hearings where this issue was raised. those requests are always ignored by DIBC and there are no consequences for them. No one can force a "donation." I would further note the the original offer by DIBC to use their expenditures to generate toll credits goes back to the early 1990's when the Gateway Project was being initiated - well before the DRIC started in 2000. To date the DIBC is only interested in talking about toll credits, not in actually generating them.

MDOT has never denied the DIBC could generate toll credits, it has only said that DIBC has miscalculated the amount of toll credits thier project could generate, and that they are wrong in describing how they can be used. MDOT is not the only agency that asserts this, you can feel free to contact any other state DOT in the country, or any county road commission that has ever made use of toll credits, or even MITA itself and they will tell you that the DIBC
s description of toll credits does not hold water.

But as I noted earlier, I think you already know that.


----- Original Message -----
From: WindsorCityBlog
Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2010 5:52 PM
Subject: Re: Does MDOT Need New Leadership Now

I apologize for the delay in replying to you but family matters took priority.

I don't mind you disagreeing with what I write but if you write me again in the tone you did "But as I noted earlier, I think you already know that" I will ignore you. I do not like to be accused of acting improperly by you or anyone else.

I do not claim to be a toll credits expert but no one has disputed that the Ambassador Bridge credits are available for MDOT use. However they are decribed and whether the Bridge Company is right or wrong, MDOT wants them and can use them. I have a tape of the MDOT Director at the Cropsey hearings where the Director was to send a letter to the Bridge Company asking for their documents. If the toll credits could not be used, why send out a useless letter? I assume that MDOT sent the letter and gave the Bridge Company comfort in their letter that their funds would NOT be used to compete against them.

That was well known to MDOT long before. In fact, wasn't this an issue in the 1990's re toll credits? I am sure that you would agree that it makes no sense for the Bridge Company to fund a competitor.

From Crains Detroti a year ago:

"Moroun's offer of the money is rooted in a public-service desire, said Mickey Blashfield, the bridge company's director of governmental relations.

“We're spending the money anyways, and as long as (the credits are) not being used to harm us, that would be a good thing,” Blashfield said. “If (the credits) are used to meet transportation needs here in the state, it's tantamount to the same public service we provide every day operating the bridge.”

The Director at that time also admitted that toll credits from public bridges were used by MDOT so why would MDOT not want money from a private bridge?

I have some trouble with what you are saying considering that the Director obviously thought the money could be used as Stamper described although he said it would only last for 6 months because of the amounts needed by the State! He said that the State had bigger needs than that in 2010-2011 and beyond.

I am aware of the KPMG report that states:

"Observation #4:
We understand that FHWA guidelines allow for the inclusion of qualifying expenditures by toll authorities and local officials for transportation under Section 120 of Title 23. Currently, we understand that neither the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) nor Detroit Windsor LLC (DW) provides capital expenditures to MDOT for use in the MOE determination...

Additionally, if a state meets its MOE determination and is eligible for toll credits, Section 120 of Title 23 provides that "[a] State may use as a credit toward the non-Federal share requirement for any funds made available to carry out [Section 120 of Title 23] toll revenues that are generated and used by public, quasi-public, and private agencies to build, improve, or maintain highways, bridges, or tunnels that serve the public purpose of interstate commerce..."
MDOT notified the DIBC that the financial statements may allow MDOT to maximize Michigan’s federal toll credits by updating the Toll Credit Application and Maintenance of Effort calculation for the State of Michigan...

In accordance with FHWA guidelines and correspondence, the audited financial statements from the DIBC or DW would permit MDOT to include qualifying capital expenditures in its MOE determination and/or toll credit calculation...Moreover, inclusion of these qualifying expenditures potentially allows MDOT to update its Toll Credit Application and may allow for the State of Michigan to receive additional toll credits."

I really cannot believe that discussions have not been held for such a long time when $1.6B is at stake. For that the Governor has to take the ultimate responsibility for MDOT's actions. In my opinion it is not sufficient for MDOT leadership to send out a couple of letters and then wash their hands of this matter.

The parties need to deal with the important issues even if they are suing each other. Both sides are big boys.

To be direct, I do not care who is right or who is wrong but want that the money to be used as best as it can to help solve Michigan's needs. That was the point of my BLOG. Both sides need to work together to maximize the return from the Bridge Company's expenditures. Both sides need to accommodate each others concerns whether we like it or not or nothing will happen. It is insurmountable unless the parties do what Carmine Palombo suggested.

I am sure you will agree with me that $1.6B is a good start and it makes sense for the parties to sit down together and negotiate something that works out for everyone especially the public."


I think the Governor listened to me rather than my MDOT friend given her remarks in her SOS speech!


What a shocker thanks to the Free Press

  • "Ambassador Bridge owner ties up courts in effort to stop rival
    Motive money as suits filed in U.S., Canada

While money is obviously a part of the lawsuits, there is more to it than that.

The bridge is Moroun's baby and he is NOT going to let someone take it from him for nothing, or more importantly to him, from his family as their heritage.

From a fairness perspective (estoppel for Councillor Jones) when Michigan and Moroun spent $250M on the Ambassador Gateway already that was to accommodate a second bridge, and he has already spent a half billion of his money on the project over the last decade, should there not be some element of fairness involved. There was an expectation that he reasonably had that he would get his bridge. He is not that foolish to spend $500M on spec.

If Governments can change the rules, especially when based on miskeading information, then they should expect litigation. You cannot lead someone on then say ooops, sorry I want someone else to take over your business.

Is it a suprise that he is using the legal system? Hardly? What are his alternatives otherwise, duels at dawn?

As most are aware, this was totally predictable from Day 1. It did not have to be this way but Governemnts misjudged and assumed wrongly that Moroun or his son would fold under a bit of pressure.

Because they misjudged, our region will suffer for another decade. We have already suffered since 2002.

We all know that these lawsuits are merely the beginning. The best from both sides is yet to come.

One day this will be resolved. How, I wish I knew.


Does Canada care if Michigan passes P3 legislation. Nope:

  • "A P3 is a preferred option for Canada,” said spokesman Mark Butler, senior adviser for the Windsor Gateway Project, which is Transport Canada's half of the Detroit International Gateway Project.

    Canada has such laws, but Michigan must as well because the bridge itself would be co-owned by the two governments.

    “You can't build half a bridge,” Butler said.

    Without such a Michigan law, options include Canada building the entire bridge or the U.S. federal government somehow using its public-private partnership law to construct the span and then delegate the project back to Michigan.

    Canadian officials have been regularly meeting with MDOT to discuss the project, including the status of the partnership legislation.

    “It's always a topic of conversation,” Butler said. “We're anxious to see that the legislation comes through.”

That would not bother Canada one little bit!