Guest column: Bridge collapse: Will state lawmakers stand with public?

By Jackson Citizen Patriot staff

Matty Moroun, an 84-year-old billionaire holding a monopoly on the existing Michigan bridge crossing to Canada, is stealing Michigan jobs.

How? By “investing in” legislative votes and blocking a needed second public-private international bridge crossing.

Michigan should be building a second bridge and putting people to work, not playing political money games.

Building the public/private International Trade Crossing bridge benefits our economic future and makes all the sense in the world.

Not the economic future of the Matty Moroun family or the Ambassador Bridge. The state’s collective future.

Canada is our largest trading partner. International trade creates thousands of jobs in Michigan and countless more across the U.S.

The case has been made to build another international bridge crossing, and it should be in Michigan, not some other state.

There are three lessons to be learned by watching this ongoing legislative battle between Moroun and common sense in our state capitol:

  1. Money is the mother’s blood of politics, and Moroun and his family enterprise, the Detroit International Bridge Company, are spending it freely to maintain and expand his money-making bridge monopoly.
  2. Money buys votes in the political process.
  3. There is no law to protect the public’s “truth in advertising” when it comes to political ads. The accuracy of the anti-bridge campaign by the Moroun family has been questioned by many, including the Michigan Truth Squad (michigantruthsquad.com).

The ads are more of a disinformation campaign than shedding light on the debate. Moroun has “invested” in excess of $5 million dollars in TV media to deceive the public.

A new bridge has deep support from business, labor, Gov. Rick Snyder and all living former governors, Republican and Democrat alike. Yet, the power of one person can, and is, blocking progress.

Here are two major reasons not to support Moroun:

  1. For national security reasons, building the Moroun Bridge side by side with the existing Ambassador Bridge would be foolish.
  2. The Canadian government will not allow another bridge to connect to the downtown Windsor area.

Moroun is playing power/money politics and buying legislative votes. He likes his politicians, once bought, to stay bought.

But it is about time our elected leaders stood with the people. We need jobs, not foolish political shenanigans.

Remember, the top three issues in the next year’s elections will be jobs, jobs and jobs. Will lawmakers show they are on the side of people whose votes they will court, or stand for Moroun?

When judgment (election) day comes, whose side do they want to be on?

The easiest and best vote is this: Build the public/private International Trade Crossing Bridge — and get Michigan working again.

Tom Watkins is a business and educational consultant. He served as Michigan’s state superintendent of schools from 2001 to 2005.