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!

Zero Taxpayer Dollars, Not A Single Dollar For DRIC

Oh, so you think Canadian MP Jeff Watson is a mere backbencher speaking on a frolic of his own about the lack of Canadian commitment for the $550M for Michigan and that what he says does not represent Government policy. Then watch and listen to this comment made in Parliament by the Canadian Transport Minister on March 23, 2011.

Oh Watson was accurately reflecting what Canada wanted to do: sucker Michigan Legislators into passing a P3/DRIC Bill without Canada committing one single penny to the project under its non-legally binding Letter of Intent. Canada would get the “Canada provisions” of the Bill put into law and then who knows what would happen next to the owners of the Ambassador Bridge.

You had better watch and listen to the video again so you will truly appreciate what Canada’s Transport Minister, Chuck Strahl, said in the Canadian House of Commons just days before the federal election was called! It is Canada’s official position on DRIC.

Former Progressive Conservative Cabinet Minister and now President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Perrin Beatty was right. Canada’s actions respecting DRIC and the $550M are “unprecedented.” Pretending to provide money to a financially distressed State is reprehensible and revolting when the reality is that Canada intends to provide:

Zero Taxpayer Dollars, Not A Single Dollar For DRIC.

Combine this new revelation along with the Squeeki-leaks documents dealing potentially with the withholding of relevant information from Parliament. Add in Senior Liberal MP Joe Volpe’s allegation that the $550M could well be a bribe. Then wonder why the Opposition Liberal and NDP Parties have not jumped on DRIC as a major election issue going to the heart of the credibility of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Government!

Are the media asleep as well?

Governor Rick Snyder, if he has any respect for himself and the people of Michigan, has no alternative but to instruct Lt. Governor Calley to cease working immediately on a DRIC/P3 Bill and to denounce the Government of Canada for its perfidious actions. He must demand that Canada allow the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project to be constructed now.

If he does not have the guts to do it or if he has bought into Canada’s plan to destroy the Moroun family ownership of the Ambassador Bridge (and perhaps P3 Michigan assets like the major highways and turn them all into toll-roads), then the Michigan Legislature must.

If you will remember, ex-Transport Minister Baird told us when he first made the offer of the $550 million loan that it is part of a generation or two of effort by Canada to try and crush the owner of the Ambassador Bridge. Note significantly that he also said that the last decade was the really hard work. It is true after all. That comment is significant as you shall see shortly.

And the $550M loan which is not a loan, Transport Minister Strahl just ripped up the worthless Letter of Intent and threw it in the Governerd’s face. It was a nothing anyway and Strahl just admitted it. So much also for the Governerd’s “unique agreement” and the $2.2B federal matching grants based on Canada’s money!

Thank goodness for the Canadian election. It forced the truth out.

To put it simply, I was stunned. Completely unable to believe what I was hearing and reading.

But there is even more if you can believe it. There are two separate statements that mean the end of DRIC.

Strahl’s comment was the first, then this remark was next.

I was completely vindicated. Everything that I had said on here was absolutely correct. The entire DRIC process was a complete and utter fraud perpetrated on both taxpayers in Michigan and Canada and the Ambassador Bridge Company.

He has been around at the Canadian Consulate in Detroit since at least 1985 so he would have some idea of what he is talking about. George Costaris made this comment that just has blown my mind:

“The Canadians' offer to cover all $550 million of Michigan's costs, at least at this point, is not term limited, said George COSTARIS, director of the Consulate General of Canada. The last four governments in Canada, dating back to 1999, supported the idea of the bridge formerly known as the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC).” (MIRS March 24, 2011)

Do you understand the significance of what he said? What Baird said above is true. For a dozen years we have been playing a game. We thought that we were going through a fair, unbiased, objective and proper exercise to determine if a new bridge was needed in Detroit/Windsor and if so where it was to be located and who would build it.

That wasn’t the case. It was a done deal right from the start. We should have known especially when the so-called independent consultants on both sides of the river came out without shame and were part of an advocacy ad supporting DRIC. Did you hear anyone objecting to that?

The decision had already been made in 1999 according to Costaris. We wasted all this time and all this money for one purpose only: to get rid of the Moroun family ownership of the Ambassador Bridge. After all, just over a year ago the Prime Minister instructed his Transport Minister to buy the Bridge since he knew before we did that the US Feds turned off the money for the northern border crossings. DRIC would not work. There was not enough money to build it.

Was DRTP part of this game as well? Perhaps since a similar concept had been turned down many years before but no one told us that. It was taken so seriously with a huge PR budget with its front in Canada being a former Windsor Mayor. Do you remember how many business and labour groups demanded it be built, just like with DRIC now? What a similar modus operandi!

Was it step number one to try to force the Moroun family to sell out cheaply? After all, it was said that it would take away about half of Moroun’s business, just like DRIC. If that didn’t work, then was the pretend DRIC bridge project the backup plan? Now we have the doublestack rail tunnel as the new DRTP.

How much money has been wasted? Scores of millions of dollars on both sides of the river.

How much time has been wasted? Over a decade.

How much has the region been devastated by this inaction? Incalculable… but look at the drop of the population in Detroit and probably in Windsor as well as the unemployment numbers to understand how we have lost out!

Frankly, I want my money back that has been spent on this file and so should all taxpayers. I want those responsible for this charade to pay us back those millions of taxpayer dollars. And as for the Bridge Company, their lawsuits already started will look even better especially when punitive damages claims are added and individuals are sued as well.

It has all been a lie. That is not what Governments are supposed to be doing. Those who have perpetrated this fraud on us should not be allowed to get away with it. Let them suffer now. Make them pay. Let their heads roll too.

However, if you think that is bad, it gets even worse when you add in the Strahl comment. It is again confirmation of everything I have said about the phony offer of $550 million from Canada.

Here is the exchange during the House of Commons Question Period. You will not believe what you are reading:

“Champlain Bridge

Mrs. Josée Beaudin (Saint-Lambert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, in a letter published in La Presse, the Minister of Transport continues to deny the facts. Although engineers have said that some sections of the Champlain Bridge could collapse, the minister continues to claim that the bridge is safe and that construction of a new bridge can wait.

Does the Minister of Transport realize that it is his indifference to the needs of Quebec that could trigger an election?


Hon. Chuck Strahl (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC): Mr. Speaker, clearly the Champlain Bridge is an extremely important bridge. That is why we are investing almost $400 million in it over the next 10 years to make sure it stays safe.

I am not an engineer. A good question to ask is: whom do we ask about this? We ask the engineers who inspect the bridge. We ask the CEO who oversees the bridge. We work with the provincial government, which works with us to make sure the bridge is safe.

Of course the bridge will have to be replaced in the longer term. However, Montrealers should know that the bridge is safe and will be safe. We will be working closely with the Quebec government to make a long-term plan for its replacement in the years to come.


Mrs. Josée Beaudin (Saint-Lambert, BQ): Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives managed to find the money needed to build a new bridge in Windsor, Ontario. They even advanced $550 million to help Michigan pay for its share. However, when the time comes to replace the busiest bridge in Canada, which is in Quebec, they cannot come up with the money. That is just wrong.

When will Quebec's needs get the same attention as the needs of Ontario and Michigan?


Hon. Chuck Strahl (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC): That was a good question, Mr. Speaker. How much money are we going to spend on the new Windsor bridge? We are going to spend zero taxpayer dollars. It is a P3 project. It will not have a single dollar in it.

Perhaps that is an option for the Champlain Bridge. The reason we are not saying that is because we are going to wait for the report to be tabled with me. When that report is tabled, options will be presented to us, including design ideas, whether it should include a railway, whether it should include rapid transit, whether it should include a bus route. There are lots of options. We are certainly not going to go into this willy-nilly.

While the bridge is safe, Montrealers should use it.

We will be working with the Quebec government to design an option.”


Take a look at and listen to the Transport Minister. He is so proud of himself

What happened to the $550 million? I told you I could not find it in Canada’s Economic Action Plan. I told you that it was not in the Budget. I asked Conservative Member of Parliament, Jeff Watson, months ago to tell me where it was budgeted but he refused to answer me.

Clearly, the Minister has now confirmed that it has never been there. It too was all a joke on Michigan.

As I have said so many times, there was no binding and enforceable legal commitment on Canada to put up one single penny. All that Canada wanted was a DRIC/P3 Bill passed so that the “Canada provisions” would come into law so that Canada would become in Instrumentality of Government of Michigan thereby taking over some of the sovereign powers of that State.

When the time came for Canada to put up some money, there are so many provisions in that Letter of Intent that allowed Canada not to put up cash that it was a joke.

Did the MDOT Director know this? Or was he fooled too? Do you remember this drawing showing us where Canada’s money was supposed to go?

Someone needs to ask the Director how he could possibly provide this information to the Legislature if in fact he knew that Canada was not going to contribute anything. If he knows it only now, what choice does the Director have but to tell the Governor that it won’t cost Michigan taxpayers a dime but rather it will cost them $550M and more? And if there is a toll revenue shortfall, since Canada contributes zero taxpayer dollars, who makes it up other than Michigan taxpayers or the whole project goes into receivership on Day 1!

Look at the drawing---$550M was earmarked for specific parts of the project. It was to be Canada’s money, not P3 money. How then can the Minister claim that zero taxpayer dollars would be spent? How can he claim it would be P3 money when it was not?

Did he forget what Minister Baird said when he first offered the loan? Or did he think we would forget. Just click the link

What is the truth!

That leaves a nice big $550 million hole for DRIC, along with another $270 million hole because the US Federal Government does not have money to put into the northern border. Alternatively, if the P3 is going to pay for it, then it must finance an additional $820 million. It should be obvious that the project is not financially viable because there is no way that toll revenues will ever be able to cover this amount of money along with the bridge costs. Tolls would have to be so high that no one would ever use DRIC

If there is no $550 million, then their $2.2 billion that the Governerd and MDOT were counting on under their “unique agreement” for federal matching grants has vanished. The Governerd now faces a $600 million hole in his Transportation Budget for 2012 and 2013. Can it truly get any worse for Michigan!

Let me be blunt. The Canadian Transport Minister has just kicked the Governerd and the State of Michigan where it hurts the most. Canada has made a fool out of Michigan. Or rather, the Governerd has allowed himself to be made a fool and has caused severe financial distress to the State.

A decade-long plan to force the Ambassador Bridge out of business. A Letter of Intent with no intention to pay out a single penny--- ZERO DOLLARS. NOT A SINGLE DOLLAR. That is all that this border file has all been.

In Canada, we set up judicial inquiries and demand Auditor General investigations of boondoggles and scandals like this. Our American friends must have an equivalent approach. It is time to let the light shine in on the DRIC file and to ensure that those responsible for it face the consequences of their actions.