Judge tells Ambassador Bridge company: You’re not above the law

By Susan J. Demas

Today, a Wayne County judge tossed Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) President Dan Stamper in jail for being in contempt of court. He was released this afternoon.

The message pretty much was: You’re not above the law.

DIBC was fined $7,500 and to pay the Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) costs on Ambassador Bridge updates for what’s known as the Gateway Project. The company has been ordered to tear down illegal construction, including tollbooths, gas pumps and part of a shop.

The DIBC, owned by billionaire Matty Moroun, has tried everything it can to block the public-private partnership for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC). This would be a second span connecting Detroit and Windsor. But it would compete with Moroun’s Ambassador Bridge, so his company has tried all sorts of legal maneuverings and has donated generously to certain politicians, mainly Republicans.

To best get a feel for the DIBC’s practices, you might consult this judicial opinion when the company lost in federal court in November:

“Considering this Court’s more than 33 years as a judicial officer, DIBC may be entitled to its recognition as the party who has devised the most creative schemes and maneuvers to delay compliance with a court order. DIBC’s schemes fail, however, as they lack support in the law of this Circuit.”

This probably makes further sense if you consider that among the many rundown properties Moroun owns in Detroit and Windsor (read: slums) is the formerly grand Michigan Central Train Station.

Still, some Republicans insist that Matty is the victim here and his enemies just begrudge his success. It’s nice to know that there are some “rule of law” judges that don’t buy into the political spin.