Friday, January 28, 2011

Soapy Williams Calls From the Great Beyond to Support the DRIC

By now you have probably heard that we have five... count 'em five... living Michigan governors throwing their support behind building the new bridge from Detroit to Windsor.

Governor Rick Snyder announced his support for plans to build a second bridge over the Detroit River in his State of the State address last week. Snyder said he had secured an agreement with the federal government to allow Michigan to count $550 million Canada has offered to invest in the project toward Michigan’s federal match for road funds. This development will ease the burden on the budget and ensure the state will have funds for statewide road repairs and infrastructure improvements in future years.

Yes, he managed to finagle the feds and we get to apply this toward our funding match for state road repair. Not sure how many "future years" it will cover, and we will just ignore the fact that it's another "one-time" funding fix that we all thought was going to stop (ha ha ha) now - but what the heck. Get it while the getting is good. Not like the Canadians are going to keep throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at us on a regular basis.

Snyder made some calls to highlight all the bipartisan former governor support behind the effort. In order of appearance on the press release, we start with Governor Milliken...

“This new bridge means not only immediate jobs and long-term economic growth for southeast Michigan, but for the entire state,” Governor William G. Milliken said. “Michigan’s long-time partnership with Canada is one of our state’s most important economic assets, and this crossing builds and strengthens it.”

... and move on to a rather exuberant Jim Blanchard...

“This project secures our economic future and, in the short-term, will employ thousands of people who need work and can stimulate our economy,” Governor James J. Blanchard said. “It’s manufacturing, it’s agriculture, it’s food processing, it’s high-tech, it’s tourism, it’s rebuilding the neighborhoods and the community of southwest Detroit, it’s Michigan’s future, and it’s now!”

... followed by Big John Engler, who certainly would be twisting some Republican arms to get this done...

“We need a new international trade crossing,” Governor John Engler said. “It will open trade and open markets, which is exactly what Michigan needs right now. We have to access these global markets.”

... and finally Governor Granholm, who would probably be happy to attend any ribbon-cutting, provided Mike Bishop was also attending and positioned somewhere near the edge of the bridge for convenient pushing purposes.

"Michigan job providers say they need the crossing, Michigan workers want the jobs it will create, and building the bridge will solidify good relations with our neighbors in Canada," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "Universal support for the bridge should make final approval of this project a no-brainer for state lawmakers."

But the most surprising voice of support came out of the Mackinac Island area, an untraceable call received at the Romney building yesterday...

"Why am I being summoned to this matter? A new bridge to Canada? Of course you should build a new bridge to Canada. Why wouldn't you build a new bridge to Canada, especially if someone else is paying for it? Michigan had to struggle to raise funds for my bridge. First the federal governemnt turned us down, and then we had to sell bonds and the market went bad... it was a huge problem. And you say Canada is willing to put up the money? Really? What is wrong with you people?

What? Republicans in the Legislature are blocking it for political purposes? Oh. I understand completely. Well, good luck with that."

Governor Snyder threw in some numbers on the press release to provide some punch: In 2009, Michigan did roughly $44 billion dollars in trade with Canada. More than 237,000 Michigan jobs are directly connected to trade with Canada. One out of every eight jobs in Detroit is in the export industry and in Grand Rapids it is one out of every seven. Half of all daily trade between the United States and Canada travels through the Michigan-Ontario border and nearly 60 percent of all Michigan exports go to or through Canada.

And of course, there are tens of thousands of jobs that would be created to be considered as well. But who's counting?

For those of you who don't remember Soapy (and I certainly don't, I barely remember Blanchard) here is an interesting piece of video that puts a face and a voice to the man.

Soapy seems like he was a pretty cool guy. Build the damn bridge already.