MIRS QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The only thing accurate in that ad was the fine print at the bottom that reads, ‘Paid for by the Detroit International Bridge Company.'”

– Brad WILLIAMS, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, speaking about a television ad airing in Michigan that’s critical of the proposed second span across the Detroit River.

MIRS News

Senators Want NITC Testifiers Under Oath

The chair of the Senate panel charged with flushing out the proposed new international bridge debate said today he is looking into the process of putting those testifying in front of his committee under oath.

Sen. Goeff HANSEN (R-Hart) today asked Sen. Mike KOWALL (R-White Lake), chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee, about requiring people to raise their right hand and swear to tell the truth before taking the stand. This comes as the panel eyes an Oct. 26 vote on the bills that would clear the way for the bridge — SB 0410 and SB 0411.

“This is vital information that we’re getting,” Hansen said. “This is much too big to be going on hearsay or things that aren’t exactly right. We have to make sure what we have is the truth.”

Kowall said he would speak with legal counsel on Thursday to talk over the situation.

Under Senate Rule 2.102, any senator has the authority to administer oaths to any person who comes before a committee of which he or she is a member. Any committee, by resolution, is authorized to administer oaths and subpoena witnesses.

Those refusing to be sworn or testify or anyone who deliberately interferes with a Senate hearing can be held in contempt and be penalized by up to a 5-year, $1,000 misdemeanor, according to state law.

The subject came up during today’s Economic Development Committee as Detroit Regional Chamber Vice President Brad WILLIAMS went about debunking the televised ads being run by the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) against the proposed second span across the Detroit River, known now as the New International Trade Crossing (NITC).

At one point in the hearing, Williams said he would never call anyone a liar and then was interrupted by Kowall before he could continue.

“Please stick to the facts,” Kowall said. “I will extend the same courtesy to you when the other side testifies, as well.”

Williams went line by line with the claims made in the ads, about how traffic counts don’t justify the need for a second crossing over the Detroit River and how every Michigan family will be stuck with $194 in new debt, among other claims.

The first television advertisement, he said, were numbers the DIBC twisted and mutilated to fit their purposes. The second ad, he said, was flat-out false and untrue.

“The only thing accurate in that ad was the fine print at the bottom that reads, ‘Paid for by the Detroit International Bridge Company,'” Williams said.

After the hearing, Kowall worked out with the rest of his committee the subjects that would be dealt with in the final five hearings he’s planning on holding on the NITC subject. At the next hearing, he’s inviting Ford, General Motors and Chrysler to testify about the need for a second crossing.

At the second hearing, Kowall wants a discussion about the “community benefits” angle — what can residents of the Delray neighborhood expect for signing off on a new international crossing running through the heart of its community?

A deeper discussion about traffic projections will be reserved for a third hearing. The Gateway project is the subject of the fourth hearing. The fifth hearing is being reserved for legal issues.

Each committee meeting will be divided into one hour for those supporting the NITC and an hour for those opposing the bridge. If one side does not wish to offer witnesses in support of its position, the other side will be allowed to testify for the full meeting, Kowall’s office reported this evening.