Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Gonzales Kills Michigan P3 Bill

Technically the Senate hearings are still ongoing. In reality, if this was the best that the DRIC-ites could do, they should just wave the white flag of surrender now and give up. It should result in a Senate rejection of the Bill. Just wait until you listen to Representative Gonzales' comments. He makes a mockery of his own Bill.

The Senate hearing started off nicely...for the opponents of a Bill that would remove Legislative oversight and give Absolute Power to MDOT to put taxpayers at risk.

Let me show you a copy of Representative Opsommer’s letter to the Senate to give you his position on the weaknesses of the Bill. It has to do with the pros and cons of the Bill. He spoke at the Senate session as well:

Then Representative Gonzales appeared. To be blunt, he completely destroyed the rationale for the P3 Bill in these two remarks of his:

So much for riskless. Nothing in life is 100% risk-free according to the Representative. Gee the Governor and Transport Minister Baird are going to be upset that a big DRIC booster just contradicted them. That makes the Ambassador Bridge project the only riskfree one!

Too bad taxpayers if toll revenues do not match availability payments owing to the P3 operator. Remember section 7B (14). You are now on the hook as confirmed by the Representative.

And the Representative told us about all of the great debates in the past over other infrastructure projects.

Yet his Bill takes away that important power from the Legislature and its job as protector of the public and gives absolute authority to MDOT. Is that constitutional?

With all due respect, does the Representative have the faintest idea what is in his Bill. Those remarks in themselves are grounds for killing the P3 Bill.

Some other statements of interest:

A member of the public, Dietrich R. Bergmann, presented. He had the nerve to ask why the DRIC people who said that 44% of truck traffic could be carried by rail did not look at this more closely.

He also pointed out that the distance to Detroit via the Blue Water Bridge or the Ambassador Bridge from, say, Toronto was just about the same. Yet the BWB traffic with 2 bridges is less now than in the late 1990's. He pointed out obvious traffic management techniques that could increase traffic at the BWB and slammed MDOT for knowing about this for 5 years and doing nothing about it. They want to spend billions on DRIC instead

I guess he forgot that MDOT screwed up the BWB plaza that will now cost over $500M to fix up and that is why truckers prefer to go to the Ambassador Bridge.

Well that got to Senator Bash-him who tried to smear Bergmann by asking if he was being paid by the Bridge Co. I wonder why he did not ask Rep Gonzales which DRIC consultants gave him donations. Would seem fair to me. Poor Mr. Bergmann was stopped when he started talking about it.

And Sarah Hubbard. If her P3 analysis was as accurate as her explanation about "availability payments" then Legislators should ignore her. She tried to say that there was no risk on Michigan by quoting this section:

Uh Sarah, that section dealt with "ACTIVITY BONDS OR OTHER FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS AVAILABLE UNDER ANY STATE OR FEDERAL LAW OR PROGRAM." That section is completely irrelevant.

In any event, "availability payments" do not necessarily involve bonds or notes. They are actual cash payments made to P3 operators. You forgot to look at section 7(B)14 which deals with State risk.

The truckers' friend David Bradley said in his remarks that the trade community in early 1990's asked for new infrastructure improvements. They got them: the Ambassador Gateway Project and the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project. I guess he forgot about them.

Speaking of 1990's traffic projections, here is what an Ontario Government Report projected traffic to be back in 1999

Wow, were they wrong! Just like DRIC today. Imagine having another fiasco with unneeded bridges just like at the Blue Water Bridge.

Bradley kept talking about the DRIC road. Dammit, it's not in the heart of Windsor, David. That's the Tunnel. You ought to know better than that. And also, the DRIC road can go right to the Ambassador Bridge with no traffic lights either. It's the same route that the Bridge Co. engineered years ago but which the Canadian Governments refused to build with their $300M BIF funds.

The biggest joke of the hearing occurred when Bradley said this:

  • "I do represent the private sector, and the people who believe in paying their way."

Tell that to the BWB people as he whinged on behalf of truckers when their tolls increased. Imagine the outbursts when truckers have to pay up to 4 times more in tolls to use a DRIC Bridge.

Finally, I felt so sorry for the gentleman from Chrysler who testified. As A DRIC-ite, he really did not want to say that, although the Ambassador Bridge tolls are higher than those at the BWB, most of their trucks (including those that serve EAST end Detroit plants I assume) use the Ambassador Bridge. Presumably they do so because the Bridge Co. operation gets trucks through quicker than the Government run bridge. When you take in the totality of costs including wait-times at the border, the Bridge Co. gets the majority of Chrysler's business.

That was day #1. How much worse can it get for DRIC tomorrow?