Saturday, June 4, 2011
Matty Moroun’s Miserable Machinations
There’s a website called “Matty Moroun’s Parade of Slums” that accuses the Grosse Pointe billionaire of being a slumlord and features photos of dilapidated, boarded-up properties he owns throughout Detroit.
It’s not his real estate purchases that have people up in arms, though. What’s angered folks is the fact that this sleazy puppet master has bought a number of Lansing lawmakers in order to ensure that the Ambassador Bridge, which he owns, remains the only connection between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.
According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, the Moroun family has paid over $1.5 million in the last election cycle alone to prevent a plan to construct a new, publicly-owned bridge to Canada from moving forward. They want to get even richer by making sure their inadequate, old bridge remains the only way to cross the Detroit River.
The 7,500-foot-long Ambassador Bridge, which opened in 1929 when Herbert Hoover was in the White House, is the busiest international border crossing in North America. Each day, more than 10,000 trucks and 4,000 cars cross the bridge, which is estimated to be worth between $1.5 and $3 billion dollars.
More than a quarter of all trade between the U.S. and Canada crosses Matty Moroun’s bridge. (A 2004 study found that 150,000 jobs in the region and $13 billion in annual production depend on the Windsor-Detroit border crossing.) Moroun’s company holds a monopoly on commercial truck traffic; he also owns the nearby Ammex Detroit Duty Free Store which has a monopoly on duty-free fuel.
With so much money at stake, it’s no wonder that Moroun’s willing to send checks to Lansing.
The “Parade of Slums” website points out that the “New International Trade Crossing” project which Moroun’s been able to hold up so far would create up to 100,000 jobs. That’s a lot of jobs for a region that’s been absolutely devastated by economic hardship.
To his credit, Governor Rick Snyder has come out in support of a new bridge. Too bad Snyder spent so much time cultivating his ‘nerdy outsider’ persona or perhaps he could persuade his fellow Republicans who control the legislature to do the right thing here.
I never thought I’d be pining for the days when John Engler was twisting arms in Lansing.
Sources: Michigan Campaign Finance Network, Matty Moroun’s Parade of Slums, Wikipedia.