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Considering ballot proposals

D. Leonard, Ed.D., NCC, LPC

There are six constitutional referenda that appear on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot that require serious consideration. While reading the various proposals, there are a number of questions that should be answered:

Who is sponsoring the proposal? What is the history of the issue addressed by the proposal? Who is supporting the proposal? What is to be accomplished by passing the proposal? Overall, what will be the political, economic and social costs should the proposal pass?

In answering these questions, you should research newspaper articles and speak with friends and family asking their opinions as to why they support or oppose the proposals. Then, read each carefully. Also, record your questions and responses as you read the proposals.

I read a recent article in The Michigan Citizen’s opinion column and took a different view on the discussion presented for Proposal 12-6. It aims to amend the State Constitution regarding Construction of International Bridges And Tunnels. It would require:

n The approval of a majority of both Michigan voters and in each municipality where “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” are to be located before the State of Michigan may spend state funds or resources for acquiring land, designing, soliciting bids for, constructing, financing or promoting new international bridges or tunnels.

n Creating a definition of “new international bridges or tunnels for motor vehicles” that means “any bridge or tunnel which is not open to the public and serving traffic as of Jan. 1, 2012.”

The proposal has two paragraphs. Paragraph one has two parts.

Part one: A statewide election where a majority of voters approve; and

Part two: Where a majority of voters in each municipality must approve where a new international bridge

The most important word is “and.” Let’s say a statewide election takes place and the majority of voters in the state live outside the affected area but vote approval. Let’s also say the majority of the voters who live in the municipality where the bridge or tunnel is to be built (let’s say Detroit) oppose what is being requested. If the two — statewide voters and municipality voters — do not agree, what happens? Stalemate? Nothing can happen because both groups of voters must agree.

The United States Coast Guard, the Federal Highway Administration, the United States Secretary of State and the president of the United States must approve all international bridges. Creating a definition is low-level thinking. The Feds have specifications for bridges, roads and tunnels, whether they be international or national. Adding a specific criterion suggests an international bridge not built in Michigan and opened by this date, would be eliminated from ever being built by anyone.

Can you just envision the lawsuits that will follow should this proposal pass? Now to the answers to the questions cited above. Matty Moroun is sponsoring Proposal 12-6. Please read John Gallagher’s articles that appeared in the Detroit Free Press for a very clear history of this proposal.

It is common knowledge that community groups and politicians that have benefitted from their association with the Moroun organization support Proposal 12-6. The community groups depend on the Moroun organization to fund their operations. Politicians who received campaign contributions from Moroun family members and employees, and who blocked a proposed new international bridge between Detroit and Windsor in the Michigan Legislature, support Proposal 12-6 for obvious reasons.

Moroun’s organization wants to build a new bridge next to the Ambassador Bridge. It will be a private bridge, like his Ambassador Bridge. The Ambassador Bridge is not subject to regulations on tolls or inspections, to name two critical items. Passing Proposal 12-6 will block the new government-controlled bridge from happening as now planned.

The people of Michigan will be harmed if Proposal 12-6 is approved because the people (government) will not own the bridge nor will they have input into its being built. If. Moroun builds a bridge, he will own it.

If Proposal 12-6 is voted down, there will be thousands of jobs and an improved environment. The political landscape will be more favorable to all of us by rejecting the approach where big money dominates elections. If the Moroun organization gets proposal 12-6 passed, the everyman will become increasingly voiceless.

There are six state proposals up for consideration. Each should be analyzed carefully. Consider the six questions along with your background research. Read them carefully in an unhurried and quiet atmosphere. Take your results to the polls and vote. For the record, I am voting “no” on Proposal 12-6.

Dr. Leonard was a member of the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) Local Advisory Council from August 2005 until May 2011.

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