Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Border Banter

Just a few thoughts on items that caught my eye over the past few weeks.


The things you learn that help make things understandable such as Chrysler's Sergio Marchionne's backing of DRIC:
  • James J. Blanchard

    Board of Directors, Chrysler Group LLC

    James J. Blanchard was appointed to the Board of Directors of Chrysler Group LLC on July 6, 2009.

Paisano...did you know that Giacomo

  • "is a $630-per-hour consultant to the DRIC project as a subcontractor of the Southfield office Louisville-based The Corradino Group.

    Corradino is a principal DRIC contractor, orchestrating environmental, traffic and engineering studies.

    He was hired as a DRIC consultant in 2007."

Did you expect him to tell you all the negatives about the DRIC bridge, mio amico? Have you asked him yet what the tolls would be on the new DRIC bridge for

  • "Each day, Chrysler moves more than 1,300 shipments, some 2,000 cars and trucks, and makes 1,600 entries per day at the Detroit-Windsor border, he noted. Hundreds of the automaker’s employees cross the border to work in the U.S. or Canada."

Some have said they could quadruple! That would increase the price of your vehicles wouldn't it?

What about the toll revenue shortfalls, Sergio, did Blanchard explain to you how they would be paid for? Perhaps higher taxes on your profits?

I like how the Detroit media reported the Mackinac visit by Sergio where he gave his pro-DRIC speech:

Crains reported:

  • "Marchionne's dinner companions before his speech included former Gov. James Blanchard, now the UAW's representative on the Chrysler board and an adviser to a major consultant on the Michigan Department of Transportation's DRIC project."

I guess the Free Press forgot

  • "Marchionne traveled to the island accompanied by Robert Kidder, Chrysler’s chairman, and former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard, a Chrysler board member appointed by the UAW-run retiree health care trust that that is Chrysler’s largest shareholder."


How dare Dietrich Bergmann cast any doubt on the DRIC. There can only be one reason he is against it. Listen to this

It was like a blast from the past that gave me chills when I heard Senator Bash-him ask a question like this. Nothing like trying to smear a person who attends as a witness.

Perhaps the Senator can explain why he was so nice to Representative Gonzales, a DRIC supporter, and did not ask him who gave him campaign contributions.

  • "As for the DRIC, only Dillon is for it, having guided legislation authorizing the project through the House last week. Hoekstra and Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder have reservations and Bouchard, Attorney General Mike Cox, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and Sen. Tom George are all again’ it."

Here is what the candidates for Governor in Michigan are saying about their support for DRIC:

  • Mike Cox said he doesn't support the project

  • Tom George said “the question is, will it help Michigan. I don't believe it will.

  • Rick Snyder said Michigan “should be a transportation hub,” but he has questions that need to be answered about the public-private partnership model.

  • Virg Bernero said he opposes the DRIC-related legislation as written, but thinks there is a need for a second span.

  • Mike Bouchard said they have received money from the Ambassador Bridge owners, and Bouchard said that “if we've got a private sector investor that's willing to build the bridge, let's take our money, time and investment elsewhere. He said he believes twinning the Ambassador, based on traffic studies, is the appropriate step.

  • Peter Hoekstra said he's in favor of a public-private partnership to build a second bridge, using private money but he said that "we don't need charity from Canada"

  • Andy Dillon, who has supported the House-passed legislation that would allow the Michigan Department of Transportation to enter into public-private partnerships, said that investors are “not going to spend over $1 billion” on the DRIC if traffic doesn't justify the project, and that costs would be borne by the private sector.


I saw this story:

  • "Granholm Urges Legislature to Send Anti-Bullying Bill to Her Desk

    In her weekly radio address, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today urged the Michigan Legislature to send her a bill that will help end harassment and bullying in schools.'

While it is not the same, I do not think that the Governor and the Michigan Legislators would be amused with these comments heard in a Canadian House of Commons Committee meeting in relation to the Minister recently:

  • "The proceedings quickly turned into a scene unbecoming of elected officials when Baird began shouting, questioning whether the committee chair knew what she was doing and declared himself ready to answer questions about the goings-on in his office.

    "Any member of Parliament, any one of the 308 members of Parliament, are entitled to come to committee, they are entitled to be heard," Baird said.

    "And Madame Chair, while I cannot vote, I am an elected member of Parliament and I am here to be heard. And I appreciate that it only took me 50 times to be able to ask to be heard, because you don't know the rules, and it is an absolute disgrace. I'm here as a member of Parliament, and I have every right to be heard."

    Committee chair and Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi told Baird that "you are speaking as a witness, so decide what you want. You can't have it both ways..."

    Baird interrupted to say he never claimed to be a witness, to which Ratansi retorted: "Good, ‘bye."

    In another exchange, committee member and Liberal MP Siobhan Coady said "bullies in the schoolyard should never be listened to."

    "Are you trying to intimidate me, Minister Baird?" Coady later yelled. "Because I'll put myself up against you any day on intimidation factors. Don't try to intimidate me, ever!"


Now you will understand why people have turned to BLOGs for analysis:

  • Detroit Free Press "Study: New bridge can rake in $108M"

  • Windsor Star "DRIC bridge toll revenue set at $59.9M" "DRIC would be cash cow"

Not one word about the financing costs and the huge shortfalls that someone has to pay for!

And the newspapers wonder why people look elsewhere for information.

At least the specialized business paper in Detroit had the story right although their headline could have been a bit better:

  • "DRIC span annual revenue estimated at $60 million in first year

    Absent from the predictions are the annual construction financing debt payments. MDOT and the other DRIC partners want a private sector partner to finance, build and operate the bridge itself, and would put all financing payments and risk on the operator.

    Its assumed tolls would pay the construction and operational costs — something disputed by some infrastructure industry analysts who say the border traffic estimates upon which the revenue predictions are based are too optimistic.

    Most of the private-sector early-interest bids on the project also doubted tolls could cover the financing costs, and instead called for guaranteed government payments. The state has said it is confident that the small number of bids that believe tolls can pay for the project will force other bidders to fall in line."


I thought that the AG letter to Rep Opsommer was pretty clear on that.

However, now there is even more:

  • "State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said the House bill is flawed. He said Senate Republicans believe a second span is needed, but that the House-passed legislation is flawed and possibly illegal. Bishop said he will ask Attorney General Mike Cox to determine if it is unconstitutional.

    Bishop questioned the constitutionality of creating autonomous authority operated by the state transportation department, the Canadian government and private contractors.

    The federal constitution says a state is not allowed to enter into any kind of agreement with a foreign power like that,” Bishop said. “I’m concerned it’s directly contrary to our United States Constitution.”