Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

October 13, 2012

Truth Squad: Technical foul on Prop 6 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 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:

"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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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."

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