Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Correction Notice: MDOT IS Smart Enough To Endrun The Michigan Legislature

If I am wrong, I am wrong. I am man enough to admit my errors and to do the right thing about it.

Just to be fair, no one complained. I found out new facts and must clarify the record.

I have been unfair to MDOT in this P3 legislation matter. I have said:
  • It was to be a quiet and bloodless coup d'état started in a Michigan House Committee. Clearly, Michigan bureaucrats as seen from their performance in other DRIC hearings were not smart enough to plot this out by themselves. They needed expert help to circumvent legislation and the Legislature.

  • The concern is, if Canada, a foreign country remember, tries to get control of key land border crossings into and out of the United States either through buying them directly or P3ing them through a "friendly" investor. The issue to avoid is clear:

    "Various United States political figures argued that the takeover [of the US ports by a state-owned company in the UAE] would compromise U.S. port security."

    But of course, no one can outthink a bureaucrat in developing plans to outsmart the public and more importantly, Legislators both State and Congressional.

    Canada is always there to help out the less fortunate.

  • In this time of need, Canada needs to step up to help out our good neighbour. I know that Canada does not want to increase the amount spent on foreign aid but the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, needs to do some creative thinking to assist Michigan.

    I have heard a rumour of an idea like this being bandied around the braintrust in the DRIC camp. It is to make Canada the nice guys while really undermining the Americans.

  • Those With No Brains Support DRIC

    I am not being mean. I did not say this. The Governor did. Here is how the Detroit News put it:

    "Granholm: New Detroit River bridge a 'no-brainer'"

Look, be fair. How was I to know that it was not Canada teaching MDOT since we are so much more experienced in P3s? The Windsor Star reported this:

  • "Former Michigan governor James Blanchard -- also a former U.S. Ambassador to Canada -- was said to be instrumental in helping barter the deal. He recently took on the role as a paid consultant for DRIC's Michigan team.

    "This is a big day for the economic future of both countries," Blanchard told The Star. "We are thrilled."

    Blanchard was among high-level political leaders and bureaucrats on both sides of the border who met secretly for months, culminating with Thursday's letter from Baird, he said.

    "It had to be kept quiet or you can't have serious negotiations," he said.

    "Transport Canada did a heck of a job in figuring out how to craft this. They really threaded a needle with this."

Sew, what was I to think!

After all, I reported this story about:

  • "Parliament 'out of the loop' on gov't borrowing

    Parliament unwittingly gave away its right to oversee billions of dollars in government borrowing, say a handful of senators who are fighting to undo a change they say was slipped by them."

It seemed a natural to me when I saw these quotes by two distinguished Canadian Senators:

  • "The government now has the unconstrained authority to borrow whatever, whenever, at whatever rate, from whomever and for whatever purpose,"

  • "That's the way it was done for 140 years. "Now, we're cut out of the action," said Murray. "Parliament is out of the loop, and that is not where (it) should be."

That is close to what the P3 Michigan Bill does.

However, the facts do seem clearer now. Accordingly, I offer my sincerest apologies to MDOT. I will now state for all to read:


  • to endrun the Michigan Legislators on their own

  • to introduce P3 legislation that takes away legislative oversight

  • to bring forth legislation that on its own can put the State into dire financial straits

  • to keep saying that toll revenues can pay for a $5B DRIC project while many of the P3 parties are advocating for "availability payments"

  • to not provide the WSA financial reports and to have a "refresher" of a Canadian report that has not been produced publicly as its investment grade traffic study.

What brought all of this about you might wonder. This story in Crains:

  • "Blanchard: Canada loan offer for new Detroit River bridge was MDOT’s idea

    The idea for Canada’s offer to loan Michigan up to $550 million to cover the state’s cost of a new Detroit River bridge originated with the Michigan Department of Transportation, former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard said.

    “The idea came from MDOT,” he said in a telephone call to Crain’s this morning...

    MDOT confirmed that it authored the loan idea for the Detroit River International Crossing bridge project.

    “We pursued this because of tough economic times in Michigan... The Legislature raising the issue was helpful in making this agreement,” wrote William Shreck, MDOT’s communications director, in an e-mail today."

Whew, Canada cannot be blamed for this one thank goodness. When this falls apart in the future, Michiganders can one. All of the bureaucrats and politicians trying to put forward this huge boondoggle will all be gone. Either retired or term-limited.

Now that's really smart!