Jail should get Moroun’s attention

BY DETROIT FREE PRESS
EDITORIAL BOARD

Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edward has apparently had enough of the self-serving antics of Manuel (Matty) Moroun. This morning, Edwards sent Moroun and his chief deputy at the Ambassador Bridge Co., Dan Stamper, to jail until they finish building ramps connecting the Ambassador to nearby expressways.

It’s about time. Over the last two years, Moroun has defied court orders, doing everything he could to delay completion of the $230-million Gateway Project, which will take bridge traffic off local streets. Enough is enough. Edwards should not allow bridge executives to deny motorists the benefits of this enormous public project any longer.

The judge deserves credit, too, for not falling for another of Moroun’s ruses and delay tactics: Resigning from the Board of Directors of the company that owns the bridge so that lawyers could argue that bridge matters were out of Moroun’s hands. Please.

Jailing an 84-year-old man is no cause for happiness. Still, given the recalcitrant behavior of the Detroit International Bridge Company, Edwards had no other way to get Moroun’s attention. Financial sanctions mean little to the billionaire transportation magnate.

Bridge folks continue to link the company’s dispute with the state on Gateway to a larger clash over the building of a publicly owned crossing between Detroit and Windsor. That’s nonsense. There is no link, except that the obstinate and self-serving behavior of Moroun on Gateway raises serious doubts about whether he can act in the broadest public interest and should continue to hold a monopoly at Detroit’s international border.