Making his first real public appearance since getting out of jail, Ambassador Bridge President Dan Stamper wants to talk

After spending more than $40 million to call the Governor a liar and seeing Proposal 6 struggle in the polls, Dan Stamper now wants to sit down and talk about how to build a bridge.

Proposal 6 Detroit bridge rhetoric flies thick around Grand Rapids hotel during Gov. Snyder visit

By Garret Ellison |

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Plans to build a new bridge to Canada are either an economic panacea for Michigan or a misguided personal crusade by Gov. Rick Snyder depending on what room you were in at the JW Marriott Hotel today.

Representatives of Manuel Moroun’s Ambassador Bridge followed the governor to Grand Rapids on Monday, Oct. 29, holding a press conference mere feet from a ballroom where Snyder urged West Michigan business leaders to vote ‘no’ on Proposal 6.

Snyder began crisscrossing the state Monday asking voters to support the new commuter span between Detroit and Windsor with a referendum vote on Nov. 6, the potential culmination of a nasty bridge battle dating back to 2005.

“The governor has thrown every Michigan working family and business under the bus on behalf of Canada by his personal request to the Federal Highway Administration to waive the Buy-America Law so it doesn’t apply to his DRIC NITC project,” said Ambassador Bridge President Dan Stamper.

Ambassador Bridge President Dan Stamper. MLive Detroit

Stamper asked Synder to support a ‘yes’ vote on Proposal 6, which would change the state constitution to require approval by a majority of Michigan voters on any new international commuter bridges or tunnels before the state can spend money on the projects.

Ads in support of the proposal have flooded the airwaves, suggesting a ‘yes’ vote will give ordinary Michiganders a voice in whether public dollars can be used to build the New International Trade Crossing (NITC), which would compete with the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge, owned by Moroun.

The non-partisan Michigan Truth Squad has said the record $31 million spent on the ballot drive and “Let The People Decide” ads by the Morouns have resulted in flagrant misrepresentations and all-out lies about the potential cost to state taxpayers.

“The amount of misinformation is scary” in campaign ads about the ballot proposals, Synder told the Grand Rapids Economic Club members gathered at the JW Marriott. Regarding the Moroun ads, Synder said “the only accurate piece of information in those ads is yes there is a bridge and yes there is a state of Michigan.”

Stamper repeatedly accused Snyder of resorting to “personal attacks” against the Morouns, for portraying the billionaire bridge owner as simply interested in protecting a monopoly on commercial truck traffic crossing the border. Stamper said Snyder is using the “luxuries of government to kill a business.”

“I don’t think the Ambassador Bridge is a monopoly on anything besides running the most efficient border crossing in North America,” he said. “They can’t argue that point so they make it personal with Matty Moroun.”

He accused Synder of trying to circumvent the “democratic process” by pursuing the “government bridge” through an agreement with Canada with the Michigan Strategic Fund as a conduit, after bills enabling the new bridge died in a state Senate committee last fall.

Snyder and Canadian leaders reached a deal in June on the new bridge. Snyder has said that under the agreement, Michigan isn’t on the hook for any of the bridge costs, which would be repaid to Canada through tolls collected on the Canadian side. Moroun and his Detroit International Bridge Co. say a new government bridge will cost taxpayers down the road. They were behind a petition drive that collected more than 600,000 signatures to put Proposal 6 on the November ballot.

Stamper suggested another look is necessary at the Morouns’ proposal to build a twin span of the Ambassador Bridge, saying it accomplishes all the same goals as the NITC.

“I don’t think a competing bridge could put us out of business. I think a government action to support a flawed project with all the luxuries government has, could put us out of business.”