Very infrequently in an American political arena is it clear that one side is not just wrong, but unmistakably wrong from any vantage point — factually, economically, intellectually, morally, etc. In Michigan we have an example of such wrongness.
Manuel Moroun, the 84-year-old owner of the Ambassador Bridge, has outdone any single living person that I have ever known, or read about, in being wrong on a political issue in his opposition to the proposed publicly funded Detroit River International Crossing bridge between Detroit and Windsor.
Moroun’s continuing appallingly selfish, deceitful and just plain anti-public-interest effort to block what is manifestly the best way to achieve the goal of a new bridge to Canada is unique in my experience. His desire to build his own bridge at his own pace so that he, and his family, can reap hundreds of millions in toll profits is so blatantly outrageous in its defiance of the common good to be beyond words. His devil-may-care intransigence in disobeying Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards was breathtaking, and his punishment of spending a night in jail not deterring him at all from trying to sabotage the public bridge make Lex Luthor, Darth Vader, and Mr. Potter all look like wimps. What a guy.
There are many, many policies Gov. Rick Snyder supports that I vigorously oppose, but on the issue of building a new publicly owned bridge across the Detroit River that will greatly brighten Michigan’s economic future, particularly that of the auto industry, I wholeheartedly endorse Snyder’s efforts. He has almost miraculously gotten the Canadian government to pay the estimated $550 million up-front costs for the bridge construction itself and the U.S. government to pay for the infrastructure and road costs to link the new bridge to existing roads (Jefferson) and highways (I-75).
What is also extremely interesting politically is how many usually opposing groups also support the governor — from the Michigan Democratic Party to Republican Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson; from the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce and the Business Leadership Association of Michigan to the Michigan AFL-CIO; from the Obama administration to most Michigan Republican members of Congress. This is quite an array of power behind the DRIC proposal.
So why has our Republican governor, who has been able to get the Republican-controlled Legislature to make major changes in many hotly contested area, including in how Michigan handles monetary issues — he just signed his second early balanced budget — not been able to have passed a bill creating a new international bridge authority? Particularly in light of the fact that Snyder has declared DRIC a priority that will result in many thousands of new long-term, well-paid construction jobs.
There is only one answer to that question — Moroun has spread campaign contributions among state politicians in an unprecedented amount and resorted to the most disgusting, blatantly false advertising ever seen in our fair state.
Moroun’s most recent TV ad, which I have seen numerous times in prime time, starts with a young woman on a front porch asking an apparent housewife to sign a petition. The voice over says:
“Signing a lot of checks lately? Medical bills, gas, mortgage? Bureaucrats want to sign one for a $2 billion bridge to Canada. The Senate voted no. Now they want to go around them.”
“The ad implies the woman could eventually be paying for her share of the proposed $2 billion New International Trade Crossing bridge linking Detroit with Windsor. (But) the state Senate did not vote no on the project, as the ad claims. A bill to authorize the project last fall was defeated on a 3-2 vote in committee, preventing the full Senate from voting on the project.
Moroun’s ad says that the bridge will cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million a year. Those claims have been repeatedly denied by the Snyder administration, which says Canada will pay the state’s $550 million in costs associated with connecting to the bridge, which Canada is financing.”
The only way to stop Moroun’s one man attack on the new bridge is to (1) not sign his petition to put the bridge up for a vote; or (2) vote against the ballot proposal if it should make the ballot. But it is important to keep in mind that Moroun’s well-financed single-minded attempt to thwart the public interest is one of the perpetual problems with democracy. His version of the Golden Rule — “He who has the gold, rules” — must not be allowed to prevail. That can only be done by a vigilant, well-informed electorate. I believe, we the people, are up to the task. Am I being an idealistic naive true-believer? Hopefully not.