Spanning the divide
Your article about the Detroit International Bridge Company and our Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project ("Bridge Banter," March 11) fails to recognize the benefits this project and our billion-dollar private investment will have on the Detroit region, including job creation and support for the revitalization of our local economy.
More than 100,000 Detroit residents are currently unemployed, and the number of people losing their homes and businesses continues to grow. This project will be an immediate stimulus to the local economy by creating 4,000 jobs within the first year and 20,000 jobs over the next two decades. We also know that more jobs for residents of Detroit will lead to more spending which should help area businesses get back on their feet.
We are making an investment in the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project in order to improve traffic connectivity and create the best border crossing in the world. We are proud that the U.S. Coast Guard, after two years of analysis, has found our project will have no significant impact on the environment. Additionally, homes are going to be safe from condemnation and business can continue to operate.
There is a broad base of support for the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project, including legislators on both sides of the aisle, and local community groups know that the project is good for Detroit, good for Michigan and good for the country. —Dan Stamper, President, Ambassador Bridge Company, Warren
Buying the bridge
Thanks for being willing to offer a candid opinion on the ridiculous public policy mess of our border issues and the Ambassador Bridge. Yet, even Metro Times falls prey to the public relations machine of lies that have so deeply penetrated public consciousness that they are taken as fact. For example, in describing the second span, MT notes it is "the one the Canadians don't want," when, in reality, southwest Detroit is equally upset and opposed to this.
Similarly, MT gets it wrong when it seeks to differentiate the Detroit River International Crossing (DIRC) Project's proposal for a new publicly owned bridge from the Ambassador Bridge's twin span over the issue of "taxpayer money." Whether it's state road dollars in the Gateway project or $787 million sought in Private Activity Bonds (in addition to the $216 million already granted), the Ambassador Bridge is using the same "taxpayer money." Both the DRIC and the second span would float tax-free bonds that would be repaid through tolls. In short, the taxpayers are not on the hook for the vast majority of costs of either project. Border crossings make money. That is why there have been several private proposals to build a new crossing. Regardless of the accounting, the public dollars (or lack thereof) in each of these two proposals are remarkably similar.
Kudos to MT for shining some light on this important debate. Let's hope that even more public discussion ends the lies being told about community support for a second span or unequal public debt burdens that don't exist. —Steve Tobocman, Detroit
A bridge too far
The March 17 U.S. Coast Guard presentation to the Southwest Detroit community regarding the Detroit International Bridge Company second span contained some false information. The U.S. Coast Guard announced a partnership of thousands of dollars between the DIBC and the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink. As a board member of Greater Corktown Development Corporation, a major Greenlink partner, we have not been contacted nor have we received any DIBC support for any project, much less the Greenlink. The Coast Guard presentation was disingenuous at best, and promoting lies at worst. Did the DIBC, never an ethical or good neighbor, lead the Coast Guard astray in this matter? We ask that the Coast Guard and the DIBC make this matter clear to us and all the Greenlink partners, which have not been invited to any private or even public discussions regarding the second span or the Greenlink, save the March 17 public meeting. We are offended at any insinuation otherwise. —The Rev. Matthew Bode, Pastor, Spirit of Hope (spiritofhopedetroit.org), board member, Greater Corktown Development Corporation
Thank you for Julianne Mattera's article, "The young and uninsured" (March 11). It illustrates one of the many reasons for-profit healthcare is simply inappropriate. Unfortunately, the monied healthcare interests are very powerful, and the Obama administration's attempt at getting healthcare coverage for more of our citizens is likely to be nothing more than a gigantic blow job for the insurance industry.
We may all be required to buy health insurance, and some people may get subsidies to pay for it, but having health insurance doesn't necessarily mean access to healthcare. Luckily, some of us aren't waiting for the government to do something about healthcare.
My clinic and two others like it in metro Detroit offer alternative healthcare (acupuncture) on a sliding scale. This is a practice model that has worked for hundreds of acupuncturists throughout the country, and there is no reason it can't work for internists and family practitioners.
Doctors don't want to go into family practice any more precisely because of the headaches with insurance. So here's an idea: Don't take insurance! Step up to the plate and offer your services at affordable rates so people don't need insurance for routine care.
This isn't the whole answer to our nation's healthcare problems, but it is certainly better than doing nothing or waiting for the government to solve the problem. There is no reason why people like Polec who work but don't have insurance should have to choose between eating for a week or visiting a doctor. Routine healthcare isn't supposed to be and doesn't need to be expensive. —Darlene Berger, Ferndale
As an avid fan of Larry Gabriel and Jack Lessenberry's opinion columns, I was compelled to write about "Home-grown $$$" (March 11). I have been saying marijuana should be legalized for years and wholeheartedly agree with you. The fact that medicinal marijuana is legal and personal possession is illegal solidifies the hypocrisy of the situation. The debate has been that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder, more deadly drugs. What? An addictive personality will do drugs and alcohol of any type, not state that marijuana is their first step to crack. What is more deadly, eight beers or eight drags from a marijuana cigarette? As the drug companies have such a tight grip on this country, I can only imagine that they would fight tooth and nail to smash any legislation of this type. After all, they want you to take Xanax, not a couple hits of pot. It's more money in their greedy hands than for normal folks, who could benefit from a new industry. Many good people and families have been hurt by the illegality of pot. —Jane Manzitti, Wyandotte
The 'nasty' truth
The Fourth Estate remains a noble institution (despite its reputation) and Jack Lessenberry's work supports this. His column on Monica Conyers ("Calling her out," March 11) is good journalism, and his adjectives — "ignorant," "nasty," etc. — are not sensationalist but responsible, poignant and true. —Charlie Haviland, Franklin
Erratum: In William E. Ketchum III's article last week ("Supreme teams"), we accidentally misspelled the name of Detroit hip-hop producer Karriem Riggins
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