Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, April 09, 2010

Smears Don't Work

What is wrong with this world we live in?

The old reliables---name-calling, smear tactics, vilification--- do not seem to be working any more. Imagine, the strategy of demonizing Matty Moroun may have to be re-thought. Consider these two recent opinion pieces in Michigan media:
  • "Yes, we need rich guys to spend their money

    This is not about a bridge to nowhere, this is about a bridge going somewhere.

    No one questions that a new bridge is needed connecting the Detroit area to Canada. The Ambassador Bridge is too old and too narrow. If something should happen to that bridge before another is in place, the economies of both sides would be devastated — as hard as it is to imagine local finances worse than they are now.

    A lot has been said about Matty Moroun’s plans to build a second bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor. Moroun, unlike most of us, already owns a bridge — the Ambassador. More precisely, the bridge is owned by Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Co.

    There’s no doubt a new bridge would be good for commerce between the two countries, as it would ease the long waits that truckers now endure.

    The Coast Guard doesn’t want Moroun to build another bridge. The Canadian government is also opposed.

    Jack Lessenberry, a columnist for the Metro Times weekly newspaper, has been a frequent critic of Moroun’s plans.

    Lessenberry points out that disparate types such as Gov. Jennifer Granholm and L. Brooks Patterson oppose Moroun’s plans and support the efforts of Detroit International River Crossing group, which also wants to build another bridge.

    Billionaires like Moroun are used to getting their way because they usually do.

    Now you may hear a little fife music in the background when I say the following: This country has been built by rich guys with grand plans.

    Public money is tight, so we need to listen long and hard when a successful businessman wants to boost the area’s infrastructure.

    Lessenberry (who will speak March 23 at the Mount Clemens Public Library) thinks Moroun just wants to keep his monopoly. That may be true.

    Obviously Moroun’s a businessman and plans to make money on this bridge. But we need rich guys spending their money. Especially here in the Detroit area.

    Don’t count out Moroun yet."

Detroit News Editorial

  • "Editorial: Michigan should mothball Detroit River bridge plan

    The Detroit River international bridge dispute shouldn't stalemate yet another state transportation budget. Until Michigan can afford its share of the cost and the traffic counts rise enough to justify this span, it's time to suspend Michigan spending on the project and halt the endless squabbling about it.

    The state, federal government and government of Canada are working on a plan to build this second, publicly owned crossing downriver from the privately owned Ambassador Bridge, in the area of Zug Island.

    The proposed span has stirred controversy from the start, first due to the proposed location and in recent years over whether public money should be invested in the $5-billion venture when owner Manuel Moroun has announced plans to construct a second span for his Ambassador Bridge.

    The dispute each year delays approval of the transportation department's budget over the question of whether to continue parceling out state funds to continue planning and preparation for the bridge.

    It appears, however, that lawmakers' work has been simplified this year. A new study has lowered daily border traffic projections for 2035, about 15 years after the bridge would be completed, to 34,600 vehicles. A 2008 study had pegged prospective traffic at 38,218 vehicles a day.

    Border traffic levels, in fact, are down from their peak volumes of the 1990s and may at best grow slowly for years, which should mean there isn't a rush to finish the project.

    Proponents say a public span is warranted by national security considerations, protection of a trade route carrying billions of dollars in commercial traffic, and the construction jobs created by the four- to five-year project. Those are compelling arguments.

    There's a June 1 self-imposed deadline for lawmakers to green light this project, called the Detroit River International Crossing, or suspend paying for continued work on it.

    But the Transportation Department is short of money.

    It has knocked more than 100 repair projects off its five-year road construction plan because of flat-lining fuel tax and vehicle registration revenues.

    These taxes are earmarked for keeping state and local highways, secondary routes and bridges in good condition.

    The state stands to pass up as much as $2 billion in federal road money over the next five years if it can't come up with enough matching revenue, and the number of road miles in poor shape will increase dramatically.

    There's no greater deterrent to the revitalizing of Michigan's economy than miles and miles of cracked and pot-holed pavement.

    That adds to transportation costs and delays, discouraging businesses from locating news plants and facilities here.

    An increase in gasoline taxes to raise the money needed has been widely endorsed in the business community.

    Lawmakers this year should put aside the Detroit River bridge controversy and make that their transportation Job One."

Oh my gosh, what will Transport Canada and MDOT do now?