Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Illegitimate Questions And Objections

Want to read something funny although very sad at the same time for Michigan taxpayers. It comes from Representative Opsommer of Michigan who is making a name for himself fighting for taxpayers on the P3 file. It comes from MIRS in Michigan:
  • "Rep. Paul OPSOMMER (R-DeWitt) is accusing the Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM administration of "treating the legislature like mushrooms" in regard to the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC)issue.

    "This administration is treating the legislature like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed garbage information," Opsommer said. "They've evidently found an alternative to Canadian trash."

This DRIC file cannot get any more ridiculous can it from a Governmental perspective alone. No one can make this stuff up! Unless they are DRIC-ites who can make up anything.

First the DRIC-ites demand: "it’s time to stop asking questions on the DRIC forecasts." Obviously because MDOT and Transport Canada have no answers as shown by the disgraceful Wilbur Smith performance in the Senate hearings. Relevant information on traffic numbers and revenue forecasts are being hidden unless Canada gives its permission to reveal something.

Then the Detroit Free Press chimes in with an Editorial:

  • "Senators will likely hear nothing new from opponents on Tuesday -- just the same old litany of dubious objections. Traffic won't support the building of a second bridge. Canada will have undue influence over the project. The public-private partnership created by the legislation would give too much power to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

    It's all just spin...

    In truth, there really are no more legitimate objections to the project. It has been studied ad nauseam, and taken through a careful, thoughtful process."

Hmmmm, Represntative Opsommer seems to have a problem understanding this:

  • "State Representative Paul Opsommer (R-DeWitt) announced today that he has been forced to write another letter to Canadian Transportation Minister Baird seeking answers to important questions concerning the DRIC, all because MDOT has been unwilling to provide it's own legislature with the information it needs in order to make a decision regarding HB 4961.

    "It is sad commentary that we have to look outside the State for information our own Michigan departments should be able to provide us," said Opsommer. "I simply refuse to believe that Canada is the only one that knows the answers to these questions, but after the legislature has gotten stonewalled here I'll turn to our friends across the river because getting this settled is quite simply in everyone's best self interest."

So he wrote to Minister Baird asking these "illegitmate" questions:

  • " If the loan is to be repaid by tolling proceeds on the Michigan side, who will determine what those tolling rates will be? How long do we have to pay off? What is the interest rate? Would it depend on whether Michigan guarantees payments if not enough people use the bridge?

  • - Is the loan contingent on the Ontario pension fund OMERS, or another Canadian private partner?

  • - How long would the agreement be for, and who would own the bridge at the end of the contract?

  • - What will the governance structure be? Will it be structured so Michigan could be outvoted, and could decisions regarding eminent domain on the Michigan side of the bridge ever be made by the authority? What specific powers and limitations would the authority have, revenue or otherwise?"

Imagine the nerve. Wanting answers before signing a blank cheque to give MDOT complete power over billions of dollars of projects without legislative oversight.

Of course the Minister cannot answer those questions either, or at least not at this time. It is because some P3 operator has to be part of this and no one has been picked yet. As Baird's letter clearly states:

This is about the clearest example of how the P3 Bill will work. MDOT merely ignores the taxpayers'representatives:

  • "despite MDOTs assurances I think we are seeing firsthand exactly how all this will play out in the future with other P3 projects if the bill is passed," said Opsommer. "My amendments on this were clear that the process needs to be transparent, but more importantly up-front and before a contract is signed."