Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, May 10, 2010

The 20 Questions The DRIC Lobbyists Won't Dare Answer

Those DRIC lobbyists sure have fun answering their own questions. The problem for anyone wanting to understand what is going on with P3s, DRIC and the Michigan Legislature in light of Canada's $550M loan is that the DRIC lobbyists ignore key questions.

It should not be a surprise that this happens. It is because they have no answers. Or rather, if they answered the questions, then one would know that DRIC is a giant boondoggle exercise designed to put the Ambassador Bridge owner in a position where he has no choice but to sell out cheaply.

As for P3s, they dare not tell Legislators how much a DRIC P3 would cost compared with traditional Government financing, or any P3 either, for fear of being chased out of Lansing.

The biggest question, not included in the group of 20, that they are really afraid to answer is where has Governor Granholm been hiding on the border file? Oh she can fly all over the world for jobs, but an inexpensive helicopter ride (come on, driving takes waaaaay too long) from Lansing to Warren where the Bridge Co. has their HQ would have produced thousands of jobs many years ago. If you want theatrics, now that is good headline-making stuff. She could have been breathless getting out of the chopper.

Here is just one example produced by MDOT itself in 2006. Does the Governor even know this? Did she know what MDOT said? Did MDOT ever tell her? Does MDOT know what it said? Does MDOT care what it said? Does Jennifer realize how much she has cost her State by her inaction?

It looks like some people may be taking a closer look at the border file in Michigan and the DRIC-ites are getting concerned. Just as with the Canadian Senate, the DRIC controversy is not as much as a slam dunk as some Legislators were led to believe.

  • "Senator Dawson---At the beginning, when this bill came in we were led to believe, and I am not saying there was any bad faith, it was going to be a bill that would pass easily...

    All of a sudden we understand that there is an adverse effect for one of the strong participants in the bill."

  • "Senator Munson--I wish to echo the sentiments of Senator Dawson and Senator Mercer. This seemed to be slam dunk before."

Accordingly, the lobbyists in support of DRIC are stating:

  • "There is a deliberate misinformation campaign being waged against H.B. 4961, to block legislation that would allow public private partnership projects (including the Detroit River International Crossing project) to be built in Michigan. We all know the game – use a sliver of truth to mischaracterize the situation and then blow it out of proportion. We will answer rumors or attempts to spread other information that is not true."

Wow, my BLOGs are misinformation? I don't think so. I research them pretty carefully. I can read the English language. I can understand what statutes say considering my professional background. If my BLOGs can help block legislation that is potentially damaging to Michigan, I would be so pleased!

Perhaps, since they do not have anything better to do, the DRIC-ites could answer these questions:

1) Why are they afraid to call what Canada offered a loan when that is what Transport Canada Minister John Baird called it nad said it had to be repaid in full

2) Would another $550M of debt damage Michigan's financial position with the credit and ratings agencies? Would it be over the State's borrowing limit

3) What are the terms of that loan

4) What happens if toll revenues are insufficient to pay back the loan

5) Why did most of the P3 operators who responded to MDOT prefer the "availability payments" method ie Governments bear the risk of toll revenue deficiencies and NOT a toll revenue regime

6) Minister Baird said that Canada needed Michigan to pass P3 legisaltion. Why?

7) Is $550M the cost for someone to pay to get legislation passed or is it based on a percentage of the amounts involved ie DRIC project costs about $5.3B

8) If truck traffic is slightly over 3M trucks per year and the DRIC consultants say that the Ambassador Gateway Project itself can handle 5.4M trucks even before the latest border improvements, what is the urgency for DRIC today?

9) How many sections of the proposed P3 Michigan Bill take away legislative oversight and give control to MDOT: 1, 5, 10, 15, too many to count?

10) How many jobs will the $550M create in Michigan considering that Minister Baird sold it in Canada as reducing the high unemployment rate in Windsor/Essex

11) If the building a bridge will create jobs, how many jobs will the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project create

12) Has DRIC received its Presidential Permit to build a bridge yet

13) Where are the Wilbur Smith financial numbers and why is MDOT afraid to release them

14) Why are the Wilbur Smith traffic numbers "refresher" based on a Canadian Governmetn report which has never been released publicly?

15) Should one consider WSA to be unbiased considering that they advocated for DRIC in a paid advertisement

16) Why did the Peace Bridge GM say that the need for a new bridge in Buffalo is NOT to increase capacity but for traffic flow purposes. Isn't that the same argument being put forward here ["We’re building a bridge because it has to be part of the border system... we’re building it to make the border work better...That means accommodating all of the NEXUS and FAST needs...]

17) How many bridges can be used for trucks in the Buffalo/Niagara area considering that the "Whirlpool [bridge] into Canada is a dedicated commuter crossing under the NEXUS pre-authorized entry program," and "No commercial trucks" are allowed on the Rainbow Bridge.

18) How many truck Customs lanes are there in Buffalo/Niagara (Lewiston Bridge into the U.S 4 truck lanes. Into Canada, 3 truck lanes. Peace bridge into the US 7 truck lanes. Into Canada 4 truck lanes) compared with the Ambassador Bridge (Into the US, 13. Into Canada, 12 plus 6 built but not occupied)

19) If the lobbyists cannot even get the simplest of matters right, the DRIC website adddress--it is NOT --then what more complicated matters did they get wrong?

There are more questions to ask but that should keep the DRIC lobbyists busy.

Oh, one other question, number 20---how many of my questions will they answer?