Michigan Truth Squad calls another “Foul” on Moroun funded anti-bridge ads

The People Should Decide (Yes on Prop 6), Taxpayers Against Monopolies (No on Prop 6) – TV ads

Who: The People Should Decide, Taxpayers Against Monopolies
What: TV/Internet ads
Truth Squad call: Foul on PSD ad; No foul on TAM ad

Proposal 6 would require all new international bridges and tunnels built in the state to be pre-approved by voters statewide and in the individual municipalities where they would be erected. It also redefines “new” as those not operational on Jan. 1, 2012. “The People Should Decide,” the pro-Prop 6 campaign, has been almost entirely financed by the Detroit International Bridge Co. of Manuel “Matty” Moroun and his family, which wholly owns the 82-year-old Ambassador Bridge over the Detroit River. The proposal is aimed at stopping the construction of the New International Trade Crossing, a bridge that will compete with the Ambassador for freight and passenger traffic.

The opposition to Proposal 6 comes from Taxpayers Against Monopolies.

As of Oct. 26, PSD had raised nearly $40 million in cash and in-kind contributions; TAM had raised just under $1 million.

Questionable statement: “Tired of the politicians’ negative attacks on Proposal 6? It’s time for the facts. Proposal 6 requires a vote before the government can build their bridge. Voting yes means the bridge can’t be built without your approval. Voting no means politicians can spend billions on their bridge without giving you a chance to vote on it. Yes means we have the power. No means we give it away to the politicians.”

The “Katie” of this spot’s title is an unnamed woman who lays out “the facts” in a monologue. Without mentioning either the Ambassador Bridge or the NITC, she breaks it down as an either-or proposition: Vote yes, and the collective “you” can decide on “the bridge.” Voting no leads to billions in spending.

As MTS has pointed out many times, the deal for the NITC is clear: Construction costs will be borne by the Canadian government, not the U.S. The deal, known as the Crossing Agreement, is clear on this. As the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan stated in its analysis of the proposal:

“Pursuant to the Crossing Agreement, the Canadian government will create a Crossing Authority which will be administratively and financially responsible for the NITC bridge, including design, construction, financing, operation, and maintenance. Under the Crossing Agreement, Canada will own the NITC bridge and the Crossing Authority will pay for all connections to highways and interchanges on the Michigan side of the bridge. Costs Michigan might otherwise be expected to pay will be covered by the $550 million Canadian contribution. According to the Agreement, Michigan state government is not responsible for any costs of the new bridge or related projects.”

TRUTH SQUAD CALL:

Foul. “Billions on the bridge” – Moroun and his minions can repeat that line all they want, but it doesn’t change the provisions of the deal with Canada on financing. Michigan isn’t spending billions on the bridge, though Moroun has spent millions to try to hoodwink the voters.

In the second ad, a singing cartoon of Moroun warbles to a Woody Guthrie tune, and a voiceover makes a case against it Proposal 6.

QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS:

“Matty Moroun wants to change our constitution so that he can keep the $100 million he makes on his bridge monopoly each year. His proposal could stop every bridge project in Michigan, potentially killing over 25,000 jobs.”

Supporters of the new bridge – who oppose Proposal 6 – told Bridge last month that if the proposal passes, “people would realize very quickly that the unintended consequences are way more than they bargained for.” The speaker was Brad Williams, vice president for government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, and he points out troubling language in the proposal. Provision (d) in the formal proposal language states:

“New international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles’ shall mean any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of January 1, 2012.”

By leaving out a second “international,” they claim, this new definition would require a statewide and local vote on any bridge or tunnel constructed in the future. It seems far-fetched, and perhaps it is, but laws are written in precise language for exactly this reason. And the ad’s claim uses the word “could,” which makes it a possibility rather than a certainty.

The 25,000 jobs claim is based on the proposal for the new bridge, which estimated that figure based on Federal Highway Administration data on the economic impact of infrastructure projects based on money spent.

As for the $100 million bridge monopoly? Those figures are hard to pin down, as the Detroit International Bridge Co. is a privately held company and doesn’t report financial data. However, some estimates are possible. In a 2011 interview, Matthew Moroun, son of Matty, said “our total revenue is in the $60 million range.” An August MTS post mined a Presidential Permit application for the new bridge and turned up a figure of $67.4 million in 2008. A back-of-the-envelope calculation based on average tolls and traffic reported by the Public Border Operators Association turned up a figure of a little over $61 million for 2011. But news media like Forbes have been reporting the $100 million figure for a while.

A blogger for the Windsor Star in Canada rounds up various revenue streams for the Morouns – tolls, fuel for vehicles, duty-free items such as liquor – and finds anywhere from $80 million to approaching $200 million annually.

The strongest public data is that the Morouns make $60 million on tolls alone, and they make millions more on other items tied to ownership of the Ambassador.

TRUTH SQUAD CALL:

No foul. Moroun’s DIBC does have the only truck-car bridge linking Detroit and Windsor. The ad’s use of “could” and “potentially” fits the uncertain nature of legal and economic development projections. And the $100 million figure is certainly within the range of revenue from all sources tied to the Ambassador Bridge.

The Center for Michigan (the parent company of Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Truth Squad) has been financially supported by a wide range of corporate and foundation supporters. We are grateful to all funders for helping us create and grow a new nonprofit journalism service for Michigan citizens. Those funders have absolutely no role in the editorial decisions of the Michigan Truth Squad or Bridge Magazine.

Michigan Truth Squad Calls Another Flagrant Foul on The People Should Decide

Originally posted by the Michigan Truth Squad

People Should Decide – “So why” mailer

Who: People Should Decide, pro-Proposal 6 ballot committee
Featured Material: Mailer
Truth Squad call: Flagrant foul

As reported previously at Truth Squad, “The People Should Decide is a ballot question committee funded, according to available campaign finance statements, almost entirely from interests linked to Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun and his family. Proposal 6 is a constitutional amendment to require a public vote before the state of Michigan could participate in an international bridge or tunnel project. The proposal is aimed at the New International Trade Crossing, a bridge between Detroit and Windsor that will compete with Moroun’s Ambassador for freight and passenger traffic.

An analysis of Proposal 6 by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan states, “Under the bi-national Crossing Agreement negotiated between Governor Snyder and the Canadian government, Michigan state government has no direct responsibility for the construction or financing of the proposed bridge or related projects.”

QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS:

“With the $3.5 billion being spent on the proposed bridge, Michigan could pay the yearly salaries of 1,700 teachers.”

The agreement between Michigan and Canada to build the second Detroit-Windsor bridge includes provisions that Canada will cover Michigan’s share of costs – pegged at $550 million. The agreement also says that if revenues do not cover bonding costs, Canada, not much, will make up the difference.

In other words, the state of Michigan is not spending $3.5 billion on the bridge, so it does not have $3.5 billion to “pay the yearly salaries of 1,700 teachers.”

The claim is utterly spurious, designed to make concerned parents believe school funds are being cut to advance the bridge. Not true.

State politicians voted to cut $1 billion from local schools while giving a $1.8 billion tax break to rich CEOs and corporate special interests. Meanwhile, dozens of school districts are facing budget cuts greater than $1,000 per student. (Citation is for www.mea.org/education-cuts.)

This language is practically identical to that seen in Democratic Party ads aimed against Republican incumbents in the Michigan House. The claim on taxes refers to House Bill 4361, which taxes pensions and institutes a new corporate income tax, replacing the Michigan Business Tax.

The claim on school cuts refers to House Bill 4325, the 2011-12 school aid appropriation budget, which reduced expenditures by about $930 million from the previous year.

The MEA page mentioned does not detail the “dozens of school districts” facing $1,000 per student cuts, however that figure was used during the debate over the 2011-12 School Aid Fund budget.

In Detroit, authorities are so overwhelmed by financial troubles and budget cuts that they were debating a proposal to decrease the deficit by increasing high school class sizes to 60 students per classroom. (Citation to New York Times.)

The Times did report that consideration.

Again, though, Detroit’s school finance woes have nothing to do with the bridge project.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

The mailer is designed to instill fear in parents that the bridge somehow is harming public education, regardless of the facts on the ground. This throw things up and hope something sticks approach has characterized the pro-Prop 6 campaign from the beginning.

TRUTH SQUAD CALL:

Flagrant foul. Michigan is not spending $3.5 billion on the bridge. Money troubles for Michigan public schools are real — any connection to the bridge project is not.

The Center for Michigan (the parent company of Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Truth Squad) has been financially supported by a wide range of corporate and foundation supporters. We are grateful to all funders for helping us create and grow a new nonprofit journalism service for Michigan citizens. Those funders have absolutely no role in the editorial decisions of the Michigan Truth Squad or Bridge Magazine.

The Michigan Truth Squad called another ‘Technical Foul’ on the latest Moroun funded anti-bridge TV ad

“Once again, People Should Decide is trying to provoke emotional responses by voters who have been battered by economic tides over the last decade. From information to date, the bridge project will be the end result of labors and materials from the United States and Canada.”

Originally posted by the Michigan Truth Squad

The People Should Decide – Steel Man TV ad

Who: The People Should Decide, (Yes on Prop 6 ballot committee)
Featured Material: TV ad
Truth Squad call: Technical foul

As reported previously at Truth Squad, “The People Should Decide is a ballot question committee funded, according to available campaign finance statements, almost entirely from interests linked to Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun and his family. Proposal 6 is a constitutional amendment to require a public vote before the state of Michigan could participate in an international bridge or tunnel project. The proposal is aimed at the Next International Trade Crossing, a bridge between Detroit and Windsor that will compete with Moroun’s Ambassador for freight and passenger traffic.

An analysis of Proposal 6 by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan states, “Under the bi-national Crossing Agreement negotiated between Governor Snyder and the Canadian government, Michigan state government has no direct responsibility for the construction or financing of the proposed bridge or related projects.”

QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS:

“They just cut a deal to be able to build it with foreign workers and foreign steel.”(Citations on the screen are for the Presidential Permit Application 7/12 — for foreign steel — and the US-Canada Interlocal Agreement 6/12 — on foreign workers.)

The interlocal agreement between Michigan and Canada has no language on employment practices, other than to say the International Authority created for the project may hire employees under the rights of a “natural person.”

The presidential permit application has some brief language on procurement activities, but nothing explicit on where the steel would come from.

However, the interlocal agreement does say, in different spots, that:

1. The iron and steel used on elements of the project involving federal aid “must be produced in only the US and Canada.”

2. “(T)he Public-Private Agreement shall require that all iron and steel used in the bridge component of the Canadian Crossing, not including the plaza and approach, shall be produced in only the US and Canada, unless the Governor of Michigan has expressly waived this requirement or the requirements of subsection (a) of this Section 5 in writing.”

Gov. Rick Snyder did reach out to the U.S. Department of Transportation to clear the use of Canadian steel on the project. The Snyder administration has argued that since the Canadian government is financing the bridge, it’s only fair that the project allow for Canadian steel.

The Proposal 6 ad appears to be built on the lack of specific language in the two documents, especially on the employment front.

“Foreign steel, just like that bridge out in San Francisco.”

The San Francisco reference is to work on the Bay Bridge, which the New York Times reported is using “hundreds” of Chinese laborers (in Shanghai) to assemble steel modules.

“The assembly work in California, and the pouring of the concrete road surface, will be done by Americans. But construction of the bridge decks and the materials that went into them are a Made in China affair. California officials say the state saved hundreds of millions of dollars by turning to China,” the Times reported on June 25, 2011.

“You can’t trust politicians, but you can trust the people.”

Under the representative democracy form of government used by the state of Michigan, political leaders are elected by voters (the people). Michigan also allows for recall of legislative and gubernatorial office holders. In summary, “politicians” gain their offices via the votes of “the people.”

The Michigan Constitution of 1963 states, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal benefit, security and protection.”

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

The People Should Decide has received repeated foul calls from the Truth Squad. By careful citation to two different documents, PSD is trying to obtain accuracy through sleight-of-hand, relying on the absence of prohibition language on employment and materials to claim a deal “to be able to” hire foreign workers and use foreign steel. Of course, that claim is predicated on voters not noticing the trick — or noticing the ballot group’s terrible track record on accuracy.

TRUTH SQUAD ANALYSIS:

Technical foul. Once again, People Should Decide is trying to provoke emotional responses by voters who have been battered by economic tides over the last decade. From information to date, the bridge project will be the end result of labors and materials from the United States and Canada.

The Center for Michigan (the parent company of Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Truth Squad) has been financially supported by a wide range of corporate and foundation supporters. We are grateful to all funders for helping us create and grow a new nonprofit journalism service for Michigan citizens. Those funders have absolutely no role in the editorial decisions of the Michigan Truth Squad or Bridge Magazine.

Truth Squad calls flagrant foul on new round of bridge ads

Originally posted by the Michigan Truth Squad

The People Should Decide is a ballot question committee funded, according to available campaign finance statements, almost entirely from interests linked to Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun and his family. Proposal 6 is a constitutional amendment to require a public vote before the state of Michigan could participate in an international bridge or tunnel project. The proposal is aimed at the Next International Trade Crossing, a bridge between Detroit and Windsor that will compete with Moroun’s Ambassador for freight and passenger traffic.

QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS:

“It may end up being free during their term in office, but eventually we the people are going to be paying big for it.”

The primary line of attack used by Moroun interests against the NITC project has been the “public will pay” claim. As far back as 2010, the government of Canada extended an offer to cover Michigan’s $550 million share of initial costs for the project, which Canada would cover with tolls. That offer, along with a pledge by Canada to cover the bills should tolls prove insufficient, is incorporated in the agreement signed June 15.

“Quit being so arrogant with our money.”

What money? The ad does not say. The agreement between Michigan and Canada places the financial onus of the NITC project on the Canadian and U.S. governments (the federal government will fund the cost of the customs plaza on the Michigan side of the bridge).

The Michigan Department of Transportation calculated that $42 million has been spent on studies and planning regarding a second Detroit-Windsor bridge.

“That’s our money that the politicians are spending.”

Again, “our money” is not explained.

“There’s a huge Michigan debt clock that’s ticking and getting bigger all the time.”

This is a new claim from the Moroun camp. The phrase “debt clock” evokes the ongoing national debate over the federal debt and websites, such as this one, that track its movements.

The most recent comprehensive financial report for state government, for the year ending Sept. 30, 2011, reported, “The state’s total long-term bonded debt as of September 30, 2011, was $7.3 billion, an increase of $268.6 million from the prior year. The increase represents the net difference between new issuances, payments, and refundings of debt.”

Between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011, the state’s total liabilities grew by about $800 million. During the same span, the state’s total assets grew by about $1.4 billion.

Michigan’s general bond rating, from the rating agency Standard & Poor’s, was AA- in May 2012, down from a rating of AAA (the highest) in 2002.

It is not clear how this reference applies to the NITC project or Proposal 6 since the state of Michigan, under the June 15 agreement, is not incurring debt.

“We can’t go out and start building bridges. Our grandkidsare going to have to pay that off.”

See above on reference to agreement between Canada and Michigan for Canada to cover bridge project’s costs.

For context, the Michigan Department of Transportation says it owns 4,407 National Highway System structures greater than 20 feet long. A count including all agencies of NHS bridges longer than 20 feet yields 10,967.

How can they tell us there’s no money for education and schools, but there’s money for a bridge.”

Again, the June 15 agreement puts the onus on Canada to fund construction of the bridge project. The Legislature has not made an appropriation for construction costs for NITC. The state funds “education and schools” primarily through the School Aid Fund, a restricted state account.

“Somebody’s going to end up paying for that bridge, and it’s going to be our children.”

Again, there is no explanation for this claim. Canada is pledged to finance construction, including Michigan’s share, and recover its investment via tolls collected. If tolls are insufficient, the June 15 agreement puts Canada in charge of covering the difference.

“Do you know how many police, firefighters, teachers, could we hire with the money they’re going to spend on this bridge?”

Another leading and unsupported claim. State dollars have not been appropriated to build the bridge. In fact, it’s possible to construct a reverse argument on this point:

Gov. Rick Snyder negotiated with the federal government to allow Michigan to use the $550 million state “share” (which Canada is covering) toward the state’s total investment for federal matching funds for highway work. As detailed in this report from the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, that deal will mean $2.2 billion in federal highway funds – which can be spent across the state. Such federal funds, in theory, would lessen pressure on state lawmakers to appropriate money from the state general fund for road work – general fund money that also can be used to bolster police, fire and school ranks.

For further context, Moroun family interests have been the primary funders – say the most recent campaign documents available– of Proposal 5, a constitutional amendment that would require supermajorities of the Legislature to enact tax changes. If Prop 5 passes, the likelihood of investments in new police officers, firefighters and teachers will be less, not more.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

The battle over a second bridge is about money – the Moroun family’s money. The expectation is that a second bridge will reduce traffic on the existing Ambassador, thereby costing the Moroun family money. There is a reason that the family interests have spent millions in campaign contributions, lobbying efforts and TV ads in recent years to stop the NITC project – not to mention what sums have been spent by Moroun interests in legal challenges to the project.

Michigan voters may want to ask themselves one question : Why are Moroun family interests spending millions to “protect” the average taxpayer?

TRUTH SQUAD CALL:

Flagrant foul. These ads repeat claims, or advance new variants of old claims, that do not match available documents. The agreement with Canada puts the financial onus on Michigan’s neighbor, not Michigan, for paying the bills, including interest. Since Michigan is not appropriating construction dollars, no dollars are being diverted away from other public uses. Michigan is not increasing its debt load with the NITC project.

Michigan Truth Squad calls another “Foul” on Moroun funded ballot effort

Originally posted by The Michigan Truth Squad

The People Should Decide – Website FAQ sheet

Click to view full FAQ sheet

This document continues a vigorous — and expensive — campaign to block construction of a bridge between Detroit and Windsor. As of now, the primary commercial crossing is the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge. The campaign document is paid for by The People Should Decide, a group funded by interests connected with DIBC Holdings Inc., a company held by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun.

Moroun wants to build his own second span connecting Detroit and Windsor. The People Should Decide has spent $4.6 million in 2012 alone opposing the bridge. It backs a November ballot proposal that would require popular approval for the state to build or own an international bridge. Gov. Rick Snyder has pushed for the crossing, saying it will be a boon to trade and job creation.

QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS:

“The governor says the bridge will be free … But he admits that the new customs plaza could cost federal taxpayers more than $263 million – and that’s not even including staff and operating costs.”

After failing to persuade the Legislature to approve the project, Snyder in June announced agreement with Canada to build the bridge, with Canada promising to fund Michigan’s $550 million share of the project’s construction and land acquisition costs. The bridge, he said, would not cost Michigan taxpayers “one penny.”

The construction cost of the customs plaza is to be picked up by the U.S. General Service Administration, with ongoing costs of the plaza to be federally funded.

The agreement with Canada protects Michigan from direct costs in building the bridge. However, inasmuch as Michigan taxpayers contribute to federal spending, they would fund a share of plaza construction and ongoing operational costs.

According to Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, taxpayers paid $200 million rebuilding a plaza and interchange at the Ambassador Bridge, referring to the $230 million project to rebuild the plaza and improve connections to Interstates 96 and 75. Moroun was briefly jailed earlier this year for failing to comply with a court order to complete his company’s share of that project.

Questionable statement: “Another study estimated the Total Net Cash Flow Loss attributable to the U.S. and/or Michigan as a result of the project to total approximately $1.5 billion from 2016 through 2035.”

The figure is from Birmingham consultant Conway MacKenzie, hired by Moroun, which estimated that total net cash-flow losses for Michigan and/or the U.S. government would be $1.5 billion through 2035, while Canadians would face a shortfall of $3.2 billion, for total losses of $4.7 billion.

Snyder administration officials dispute the study.

Backers of the bridge portray it as a needed portal to future economic growth. The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest international border trade crossing in North America, with more than 7,000 trucks crossing each day. According to the Public Border Operators Association, 25 percent of goods traded between Canada and the United States cross over the Windsor-Detroit border.

A 2008 study by the Michigan Department of  Transportation projected that truck traffic would increase 128 percent over the next 30 years, surpassing current capacity by 2033.

A study by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce found that delays in the Detroit-Windsor corridor could cost United States and Canada $17.8 billion by 2030 and 70,000 lost jobs.

Questionable statement: “The governor says the bridge will be free … But his plan depends on a $550 million loan from Canada. The Crossing Agreement makes clear: So long as that loan remains unpaid, Michigan is prevented from collecting any share of the toll revenues generated from the bridge — and Canada will continue to collect interest. That could put Michigan in debt to Canada for decades to come.”

Under the agreement with Canada, Canada pays up to $550 million to cover Michigan’s share of the project’s cost. Canada is to recoup that cost with tolls collected on the Canadian side of the crossing. The tolls also will be used to pay the private bridge concessionaire and for maintenance. Canadian officials express confidence toll revenue will prove sufficient to pay for the project.

“The governor says the bridge will be free … But MDOT has already spent over $41 million in taxpayer money just to do a study of the bridge.”

MDOT officials peg the spending to date on planning at $42.9 million.

“The governor says the bridge will be free … But according to DRIC’s Environmental Impact Statement, the NITC would displace approximately 257 households; 43 businesses with 685 jobs — many held by minorities and low-income people; the St. Paul AME Church and Kovacs Bar, which are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places; up to five places of worship (including St. Paul AME Church); and a community recreation center and playground.”

The agreement with Canada stipulates that the request for proposals to build the bridge must include a community benefits plan and involvement of affected communities. Under eminent domain law that governs taking of land for public purposes, property owners are compensated at fair market value.

“The governor says the bridge will be free … But plans fail to account for the fact that traffic between Detroit and Windsor has actually decreased 49.9% since 1999. This includes crossings on both the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel through 2011. Indeed, the Governor’s own government studies show there’s no justification for a second bridge to Canada.”

Given that he considers the bridge proposal a money-loser, it’s curious that Moroun and his son, Matthew, want to build a second private bridge to Canada.

Commercial traffic declined during Michigan’s deep recession last decade, but rebounded as the major automakers recovered. Truck traffic grew from under 2.3 million in 2009 to more than 2.6 million in 2010 and 2011. Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and many other business interests are enthusiastic proponents of the bridge plan, saying a new span will cut shipping delays and spur growth.

“The governor says the bridge will be free … But MDOT reports assume that the new government bridge will draw a substantial amount of traffic from the other crossings (Ambassador Bridge, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, Blue Water Bridge), thereby reducing tax revenues from tolls at those crossings.”

A presidential permit application by the state of Michigan projects a range of effects from the proposed bridge on revenues for the Ambassador Bridge and the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron. Revenues for the Ambassador Bridge, pegged at $67.4 million in 2008, were projected to drop to $41 million in 2015 in one forecast model and rise to $84.1 million in another, with revenue projected at $66 million in 2035 in one model and $121.9 million in 2035 in another. Revenue for the Blue Water Bridge, pegged at $29.1 million in 2008, was projected to be at $41.1 million in 2015 in one model, $33.6 million in another, and at $66.7 million in 2035 in one model, $52.4 million in another. Under its low-revenue forecast for the Ambassador Bridge, net profit is projected at $18.9 million in 2015 and $7.2 million in 2035. Profits were projected at $61.9 million in 2015 and $63.1 million in 2035 in the other forecast model.

A 2011 report by the Anderson Economic Group noted a potential revenue drop to the Ambassador Bridge of nearly $70 million by 2030 if the new span is built.

“The governor says the bridge will create jobs … But the Crossing Agreement says that the International Authority will be selecting the winning proposal to build the bridge, meaning — since the Authority is made up of some Canadian and some Michigan bodies — Michigan companies and workers are not guaranteed the opportunity for construction jobs.”

A study by the Center for Automotive Research estimates that construction will create 6,000 jobs each of the first two years and 5,100 in each of the final two years. Michigan workers will be free to compete for those jobs. Moreover, the $550 million Canada is shouldering as Michigan’s share can be used by the state as matching funds to capture $2.2 billion in federal money that can be spent on roadway projects across the state. CAR estimates that will generate an additional 6,600 jobs annually for four years.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

The document cherry-picks data to suit the ends of The People Should Decide, which are to block a span not owned by the Moroun family. If there is no need for a second span, why does their company want to build and own one?

The document correctly notes that Michigan taxpayers would pay a proportionate share of federal funds for construction and ongoing operations of the customs plaza. In light of that and planning costs, it is therefore a stretch to say that the project would not cost Michigan taxpayers “one penny.”

But the document fails to note such contributions to the Ambassador Bridge crossing in the form of customs plaza and interchange work. It also ignores evidence that the proposed span would be an economic boon to Michigan.

TRUTH SQUAD CALL: Foul. “Get The Facts” continues the trend of previous ads from Moroun circles. Facts are missing; distortions are used.

The People Should Decide – mailer (Michigan Truth Squad)

Originally from: Michigan Truth Squad

Front

Back

QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS:

“Snyder’s bridge. Not free. Not even close.”

The flier is the latest salvo in a fierce political fight over a proposal to build a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor. The campaign document is paid for by The People Should Decide, a group funded primarily by interests tied to Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun. Moroun wants to build his own second span connecting Detroit and Windsor. The People Should Decide has spent $4.6 million opposing the bridge, which would be publicly funded, but privately operated. PSD is backing a November ballot proposal that would require popular approval for the state to construct or finance an international bridge or tunnel.

Gov. Rick Snyder has championed the crossing as a boon to trade and job creation since taking office. In June, U.S. and Canadian officials announced an agreement to build the bridge with guarantees from Canada to pay Michigan’s $550 million share of the project. The sum is to be paid back by tolls collected on the Canadian side of the crossing.

“Who will pay for lost property taxes from condemned homes to build a new government bridge?”

Canada has agreed to pay for land needed for the bridge on both sides of the bridge. Construction on the Michigan side would force demolition of an estimated 250 homes, dozens of businesses and up to five churches. Under eminent domain law that governs such projects, property owners are compensated at fair market value for property loss. The agreement with Canada stipulates that the request for proposals to build the bridge must include a community benefits plan and involvement of affected communities.

“ … a new interchange for I-75 to connect the new bridge to existing highways?”

The I-75 highway interchange is predicted to cost $385.9 million (covered by Canada) and the U.S. Inspections plaza $413.6 million, with cost of the plaza to be paid by the U.S. General Services Administration. The bridge itself is projected to cost nearly $1 billion and is to be financed by investors under a concession agreement. Canada is agreeing to pick up the remainder of the project’s cost.

“… lost toll revenues and lost jobs from the existing bridges and tunnel that already connect Canada and Michigan?”

As owner of the Ambassador Bridge, Moroun’s profits would presumably be affected by another crossing he does not own. A 2011 report by the Anderson Economic noted a potential revenue drop to the Ambassador Bridge of nearly $70 million by 2030 if the new span is built.

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is owned by the cities of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.  Tunnel traffic and revenues have been trending up in 2012.

“If the new government bridge for Canada is such a great economic boon for Michigan why did the Michigan Legislature, repeatedly, vote against building it?”

Moroun has lobbied hard against the bridge and has managed to convince enough key Republicans to forestall legislative approval. It has never come to a vote by full membership of either the state House or state Senate. A state Senate committee in November 2011 decided not to authorize the project by a 3-2 vote.

Bridge proponents — which include the major automakers and numerous businesses — maintain the price of doing nothing is costly. The congested 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge is the busiest international border trade crossing in North America, with more than 7,000 trucks crossing each day. Almost a quarter of all merchandise trade between Canada and the U.S. uses the bridge. A study by the Ontario  Chamber of Commerce found that delays in the Detroit-Windsor corridor could cost the United States and Canada $17.8 billion by 2030 and 70,000 lost jobs.

Opponents say a public bridge could “lose billions,” citing a 2011 study by Conway MacKenzie of Birmingham that the bridge would lose $4.7 billion over 20 years. Conway MacKenzie was hired by Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Co. to conduct the study. Snyder disputes the analysis.

“Why does Governor Snyder say the new government bridge for Canada will bring jobs now when their permit request says construction won’t begin for five more years?”

Snyder has long maintained the bridge — whenever it is built — will add thousands of jobs and improve trade between the United States and Canada. A study by the Center for Automotive Research estimates that construction will create 6,000 jobs each of the first two years and 5,100 in each of the final two years. Moreover, the $550 million Canada is shouldering as Michigan’s share can be used by the state as matching funds to capture $2.2 billion in federal money that can be spent on roadway projects across the state. The Center estimates that will generate an additional 6,600 jobs annually for four years.

The Michigan Department of Transportation says fall of 2013 is the tentative start time for construction.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

With this flier, The People Should Decide continues a campaign against the bridge that remains long on assertion, but short on facts. There is considerable evidence the existing single crossing to Windsor is costing business and hampering trade. Opponents have not clearly shown how the project would do substantial harm to Michigan taxpayers.

FOUL OR NO FOUL:

Foul. The flier makes notable claims it does not prove.

Michigan Truth Squad says Moroun is batting .000 on misleading ad campaign

The People Should Decide Committee “Petition” Television Ad

What: Television ad
Who: The People Should Decide Committee
Truth Squad call: Flagrant foul.

QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS

“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 shows what appears to be a blonde suburban housewife seemingly overwhelmed with paying the household bills. It implies she could eventually be paying another bill: her share of the proposed $2 billion New International Trade Crossing bridge linking Detroit with Windsor.

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.

Text on the screen of the ad says “Snyder: Working to bypass the Legislature.”

Gov. Rick Snyder and the Canadian government have, in fact, bypassed the Legislature since the ad started appearing. The two sides signed an agreement on June 15 that “lays the groundwork” for the construction of the new bridge, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“But your signature can save us $100 million a year. It’s a citizens’ petition to stop them from building their bridge unless the people vote for it.”

Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun, who wants to build his own second span connecting Detroit and Windsor, is sponsoring a petition drive that would require construction of any “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” be authorized by voters. Moroun’s organization, called The People Should Decide, is collecting signatures to get the proposal on the ballot in November.

Moroun has run numerous ads saying 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 June 15 agreement solidifies Snyder’s position and further says that the state will be able to use the $550 million contribution from Canada as the state’s federal match for highway projects across the state.

The ad also shows text on the screen that says, “Public bridge could lose billions.” That claim is based on a 2011 study by Birmingham-based Conway MacKenzie Inc. that estimates “cash-flow loss” of $4.7 billion for the United States and Michigan over the next 20 years.

Conway MacKenzie was hired by Moroun’s Detroit International Bridge Co. to conduct the study.

Snyder has disputed the analysis.

OBSERVATIONS

This is the latest in a series of ads Moroun has run as part of his multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign to stop the New International Trade Crossing.

Moroun’s ads repeatedly claim that the bridge could cost taxpayers $100 million because tolls won’t cover the state’s costs. The problem with that assertion is there are no costs because the construction agreement calls for Canada to pay for Michigan’s share of the project.

It’s healthy to be skeptical when a foreign government offers to give Michigan something for nothing. But that’s what the agreement says.

Truth Squad call: Flagrant foul for erroneously (and repeatedly) claiming that the New International Trade Crossing bridge will cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million a year.