Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Governerd's Bill---It's Just Like Granholm's But More Refined

Just a thought provoker for you, dear reader. Here is the definition of “Crossing” and “Project” in the Governerd’s Bill. Where does it say DRIC or NITC? Why can’t it mean instead the Ambassador Bridge and the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project singly or together, especially if the Governments eventually buy it as the Canadian Prime Minister wants to do:

•"Crossing" means a public international bridge and bridge approaches, including, but not limited to, all related structures, plazas, facilities, improvements, extensions, interchanges, property, and property interests, between Ontario, Canada, and this state that is at least partially located in a city that, as of the date of the first commencement of a project activity, has a population of at least 600,000 according to the most recent decennial census…

•“Project” means all activities associated with a crossing, including project land activities and project activities.”

Why can’t that Ambassador Bridge project be P3ed too! Wasn’t that always the intention to be blunt about it? Look at all of the money that the Governments would make especially if lumped in with the Blue Water Bridge and the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. We have Mayor Edgar (aka Eddie) Francis and his hired road consultant, Gridlock Sam Schwartz, to thank for telling us that.

I have no intention on commenting in detail on the latest Draft Bill put out by the Governerd. Why should I help him by pointing out all of the problems with this Bill now. I would like to believe the Governerd when he says this:

• Snyder: Canadian offer for bridge is legit

“Gov. Rick Snyder said today he is confident there is a firm offer of $550 million from the Canadian government to pay Michigan's share of the cost of a new international bridge across the Detroit River.

"I've had multiple discussions with authorities in Canada from both political parties," Snyder told reporters after signing bills related to Michigan's sex offender registry.

"This is the No. 1 infrastructure project for the country of Canada," Snyder said. "That says a lot."

The governor said he believes the Canadian government has made "a firm commitment," to pick up Michigan's costs related to the New International Trade Crossing, formerly known as the Detroit River International Crossing, but "it's something we will continue to monitor." (Paul Egan Detroit News April 12, 2011)

But I do not!

Don’t you find it strange that the Governered is monitoring something that is supposedly firm although it is NOT in the Canadian Budget! The offer letter is not firm so why is the Governered so confident after hearing Minister Strahl’s “Zero dollars” remark?

It is so bizarre. Why isn’t the Bill introduced by a Member of the House or Senate officially? Why was it leaked to the media instead? The timing is just so co-incidental too: Windsor Square’s Squeeki-leaks documents, my Article “Zero Taxpayer Dollars, Not A Single Dollar For DRIC,” the Volpe allegation of the $550M being a “bribe” and the AFP attack on DRIC.

Damage control time. Try and limit the Bridge Company's reframing of the border issue. Try to blunt their ads.

I am writing this for the general reader to understand how we are going to be fooled again with a “no-brainer” DRIC/P3 Bill revision that everyone is supposed to applaud and accept without thinking because the Governerd tells us so. The pressure on Legislators to knuckle under will be enormous.

It’s whack-a-mole time. Expect the demonization and vilification of the Morouns to continue as well as that of any Legislator who dares think of voting NO. Director Steudel has already told us what will happen to that Legislator ably assisted by certain members of the unthinking, press release media.

Part Two will come later, at the appropriate time, for those who want an in-depth, clause-by-clause, analysis of the Bill and all of the concerns with it. It is to demonstrate that all of the past excesses are still there. Just hidden better.

Oh but we have taken out most of the things that Legislators objected about. It is a nice clean Bill that everyone can now accept, right! That is what the three Wise Men PLUS one, the Governerd, Lt. Governerd, the MDOT Director and the Treasurer will tell everyone.

Yup, we should believe a Governerd who says there is a “unique agreement” where there is none, a Lt. Governerd who opposed DRIC, an MDOT Director whose Department was accused by four Legislators of alleged fraudulent misrepresentations and withholding of material facts during testimony on the proposed Detroit International River Crossing (DRIC) project and the Treasurer, the former Democratic House Leader who supported DRIC.

Sure they have done all of that except if you still believe in legislative oversight, there is none. Canada is no longer an Instrumentality of Government of Michigan, it is now a “public agency” with all of their powers.

If you have an 18-wheeler, you can drive through the “availability payments “and the “eminent domain” prohibition loopholes.

All those sections that deal with no repayment obligations except from project revenues----nice window dressing that means little if the agreements are carefully drafted or if the intention is really to default on Day 1.

Of course, if you are not a corporate lawyer or a CA or someone who understands how debentures and securities work or not involved in high finance structuring of multi-billion dollar deals using the most sophisticated financial instruments that Wall St bankers can imagine and designed to get around Statutes or if you are not expert in eminent domain matters, you will probably be fooled. Heck, your eyes will glaze over reading this stuff never mind trying to understand it. It is the best cure for insomnia around.

There are some obvious deficiencies still in the Bill that were planned deliberately I am sure so that when objections are raised MDOT will immediately insert provisions that have been drafted previously to say that they are accommodating the wishes of the Legislators.

It really was really quite brilliantly planned although pretty obvious once you start reading through the Bill. Those Canadian bureaucrats at Transport Canada and the PMO who are masterminding this are crafty. You just have to work a lot harder at it and find out that nothing has really changed.

The Governerd’s proposed Bill is supposedly designed to avoid the excesses of all the previous drafts that have been presented to the Legislature by MDOT/Canada. The previous versions were so overreaching that no Legislator in my opinion should ever have voted YES. Most Democrats did and they still support DRIC.

Michiganders were saved from financial disaster by members of the Republican Party and a few Democrats voting “NO” in spite of tremendous pressure imposed upon them by media people who did not have the faintest idea what they were talking about and who bought in to the press release journalism of the DRIC-ites. If you think that pressure was bad before, here is what Susan Demas of MIRS would like the Governerd to do to threaten Legislators:

•“The governor should do the same for his case for DRIC. Go through all 110 House districts and 38 Senate districts and list all the road and bridge projects in each that his deal will finance for the next five years. Send the list out to every lawmaker and local media outlet in the state. Hold town hall meetings from Iron Mountain to Independence Township arguing that a vote against DRIC is a vote for crumbling roads. It's a better strategy than counting on a GOP Legislature to automatically go along with your agenda.” ( Susan Demas January 28, 2011)

Effectively, what the previous legislation was proposing would have destroyed the separation of powers in the Michigan governmental system by allowing the Department to run amuck without any legislative oversight at all. It could have caused all kinds of constitutional issues as well that have still not been explained away.

Of course, Canada was lurking in the background because it was to be made an Instrumentality of Government of Michigan, whatever that meant. The Bill was so necessary for Canada that they dangled a $550 million loan which was not a loan and in fact was a nothing without any binding legal force whatsoever to try to persuade Legislators to pass the bill. Once the Bill would have been passed, then Canada would have got what it wanted and even if it backed out of paying Michigan anything, it still accomplished its purposes.

Why no one in the media or in the Democratic Party seemed to understand this is beyond my comprehension.

Now the Governerd has jumped into the fray. To be blunt, his Bill will fool some initially. It is somewhat better than the one before on first blush because it seems to be restricted primarily to DRIC and to financing of the Project. It does not overreach by allowing Canada some control over all major State transportation facilities

•ie any new or existing domestic or international highway, lane, road, bridge, tunnel, overpass, ramp, interchange, ferry, airport, vehicle parking facility, vehicle transportation facility, port facility, locks facility, rail facility, intermodal or other public transit facility, or any other equipment, rolling stock, site, or facility used in the transportation of persons, goods, substances, vehicles, information, etc.

Of course, we can guess that it is merely step one of a two-step process. Pass this and then MDOT will come back for what they really want: to pass another Bill to try to accomplish what it wanted in the earlier Bill ie to cover those major transportation facilities. After all, a similar Act was passed before so who could object now?

Clearly, the Bridge Company people will not be involved in stage 2 to mess up things up since there is nothing in the new Bill that will deal with border crossings. As for me, I have enough trouble dealing with border issues such that I’m not going to write any Articles about transportation matters in Michigan. And then who will object? The wording will be very, very similar so it will truly be a slam dunk once it is introduced.

We saw a similar game that Canada played with the International Bridges And Tunnels Act and how it was separated out of an Omnibus Bill because the railroad companies were objecting to that Bill.

But the key areas, the ones that every Republican Legislator in the last House and Senate and a few thoughtful Democrats opposed before, well they are alive and well and hidden in legalese.

Keep in the back of your mind why there is such a push to have a P3 Bill. Why does there have to be a Public-Private Partnership? There are other ways to finance a DRIC project, the way it has been done successfully for decades before. Whatever a P3 proposes can be accomplished contractually in a traditional construction approach.

Does Michigan or Canada for that matter need another Port Mann Bridge P3 fiasco or the lawsuits over Highway 407 through Toronto which the Province lost. Who needs an Auditor General Report saying that taxpayers have been ripped off?

Obviously there is a hidden agenda to all of this that we have not been told although it is becoming clearer and clearer all the time.

Canada needs the Bill in order to force the Bridge Company to sell out.

MDOT wants the Bill because it allows him to make, they believe, millions and billions of dollars so that they can become an autonomous Governmental body within the Government that can ignore the Legislature.

Naturally, a Governerd wants something like that as well in order to achieve his/her objectives without bothering to go to the House or Senate for approval.

Unfortunately, you will need to read through the Bill to understand exactly how we are to be fooled. You will learn from me later that:

• Michigan taxpayers are at risk financially
 “Availability payments” are still possible but under a new name  If bonds are not issued then everything is fair game with little taxpayer protection  Canada is a “public agency” now and not an “Instrumentality” with no significant differences  Legislative oversight, oh don’t be so silly
 It’s so easy for Canada to become owner of the entire project right away
 “Eminent domain” is alive and well
 Pressure is put on the Ambassador Bridge’s project
 Constitutional issues are not addressed.

And so much more!