Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jim Blanchard's "Labor Of Love"

We know that if you want to get legislation passed in Michigan, it will cost you about half a billion dollars. That is what Canada will pay for P3 legislation.

But what is the price of working for love in Michigan?

I read an article in Gongwer, one of the Michigan legislative news services, that gives an indication. It can be pretty costly

This is how Michigan's ex-Governor Blanchard describes working on the DRIC project:
  • "Building the Detroit River International Crossing could be one of the biggest boons to the Detroit region and the state, former Governor James Blanchard said in an interview, and while he is a paid consultant supporting development of the bridge he said, "like most of what I do, it's a labor of love."

While Jim calls it a boon, others call DRIC a boon-doggle!

The price of love, why it's like buying an expensive car or a private plane or a yacht and asking what the price is. If you have to ask...:

  • "Crain's Detroit Business has reported that Mr. Blanchard is making $630 an hour for his consulting services. Asked about that, Mr. Blanchard said he is charging the Corradino Group his normal fee, minus a 30 percent discount.

    Asked what his normal fee would be, Mr. Blanchard laughed and said, "You can't afford it."

Fortunately, for Jim, labouring for love pays well, about $900 an hour if my math is right. Thank goodness that Jim is in love. Can you imagine the price if he was not!

We know that negotiations with Canada went on for 8-9 months. Jim is quite modest about his role but he should not be. Why, he knew all about the possible purchase of the Ambassador Bridge that was in the Prime Minister's secret mandate letter:

  • "Mr. Blanchard was involved in some of the discussions on that proposal, which he said was first proposed by MDOT... Though he would not say how long the proposal was under consideration, Mr. Blanchard said Canadian officials reviewed it for awhile before approving it last week."

I would not mind labouring under those conditions.

We know this about Jim:

Tell me, is it normal for MDOT consultants to hire lobbyists? Whom do they lobby? Weren't DRIC consultants supposed to be neutral and not advocates? If they are biased, could that contaminate their findings and require everything to be restarted? I sure would be upset if I was on the losing side.

In looking at the form, I am not sure I understand the answer to Q14 given the word "indirectly."

To be honest, I am not sure of Jim's orientation. We know he works for a DRIC consultant but the article also claimed:

  • "That also includes speeches on trade he once gave at the behest of the Ambassador Bridge executives, Mr. Blanchard said."

Now Jim seems to be a pretty possessive type:

  • "They can't go for us on the merits so they do things like go after our governor because she was born in Vancouver," he said."

But he need not fear. Money is no object for his suitors:

  • "In fact, given the scope of the money being spent on the question of whether or not the Legislature should approve or disapprove of the DRIC project by June 1, as required by PA 116 of 2009, Mr. Blanchard laughed at the idea it would even come into play as a criticism.

    "There isn't anybody they aren't working with that hasn't gotten their money," Mr. Blanchard said."

What's $630 an hour when you are wasting millions in other words! Why it's lunch money, free lunch money.

I think though that Jim is pressing a bit too hard. His rushing to the P3 altar may scare off some people:

  • "And while he is confident the Legislature will act to approve the project by June 1, even if it does not the project will not go away, Mr. Blanchard said. "It would be better to get it done before the election," he said."

Some might think he wants consummation because some potential new Legislators are against DRIC as the article states:

  • "the project doesn't get much support from the announced candidates running to be Michigan's next governor."

Poor Jim, if the DRIC is turned down, it would be considered a costly comedy. All of his efforts for nought. Why some might call it Jim's "Love's Labor's Lost."