Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 28, 2012

Fred Goldenberg: The ballot proposal to nowhere

Local columnist

---- — Since I needed to be south of the city for my first appointment, I decided to cut down Williamsburg Road to Supply Road to Hammond and then over to my client's home, avoiding the early morning traffic on M-72 and downtown. I do this often, and once in a while, I even drive through Elk Rapids and then to my office if I'm in need of a change of scenery.

I like that I have options. I'd hate to be stuck with one way into Traverse City and only one way out. Think about what a mess it would be if M-72 was our only way into downtown. Now think if it was a toll road controlled by a private enterprise that would go to extremes to maintain ownership and its monopoly on the road.

Now think of Proposal 6 on our November ballot.

Manuel Moroun and his family, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, have spent countless millions of dollars to first buy the current sitting legislative body and then finance a brilliant marketing campaign to convince us that: 1) we don't need a new bridge, and 2) this new bridge will cost us billions and billions of dollars.

Currently Moroun has a stranglehold on international trade and has done everything humanly possible to obfuscate the truth.

He even hired paid canvassers to gather the needed signatures to get his proposal on the ballot while making it look like they were concerned citizens trying to stop the governor from spending our money.

What he wants is a constitutional amendment that would essentially prevent anyone else, private or governmental, from building a bridge across the Detroit River — or for that matter any place in Michigan, leaving him and his family in total control.

You know I find fault with Gov. Rick Snyder all the time and I believe many of his policies have hurt Michigan's citizens, especially our seniors and kids.

But in this case, he is right. When the governor became fed up with having to deal with Moroun's paid-for politicians in Lansing, he simply bypassed them and signed a deal with Canada to build the bridge as long as it didn't cost Michigan taxpayers any money.

The gnashing of teeth could be heard loudly from the hallowed halls of our state legislators.

With Moroun's minions stymied, he (Moroun) turned to his "let the people decide" ballot proposal.

What the Morouns have tried to sell us would make a traveling snake oil salesman proud.

There is nothing about Proposal 6 that is about "the people." It's about one man's business monopoly and efforts to stop a second bridge to Canada.

Make no mistake about it, there is a need for this bridge and the Canadians are willing to pay for it.

It is going to be built anyway, and at issue is whether it will be in Detroit or in Buffalo. The answer will determine who benefits from the expected increase in international commerce, Michigan or New York.

The current TV ad showing the couple saying, "Vote yes to say no to the bridge," allowing us to hire more teachers and policeman is so outrageous that it's laughable. But unfortunately, we can't afford to laugh because our constitution is being highjacked by a greedy billionaire whose only objective is to maintain control of his family's monopoly and make sure that a second bridge isn't built so it doesn't cut into his business.

Proposal 6 is bad in every sense of the word and must be defeated if not for any other reason than to stop the Moroun family's stranglehold on international commerce and trade. Allowing an 83-year-old bridge to be the only access point to international trade is truly a bridge to nowhere.

Fred L. Goldenberg is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a patient & consumer advocacy and financial services organization in Traverse City. If you have any questions or comments about this article or any other senior issue, he can be reached at 922-1010 or