Friday, July 10, 2009
Ending the Standoff at the Gateway Project in Detroit MI (Pot & MDOT)
Ending the Standoff at the Gateway Project
How Pot can fund MDOT
by The Friends of George Cushingberry
It was just a few weeks ago that MDOT Director Kirk Steudle went to the House appropriations committee to beg for additional funds. You could not tell the difference between him and Keith Sweat in the way he was asking for an increase in fuel taxes. He said that a half of pack of Gum increase in the fuel tax will allow MDOT to build and maintain new and existing bridges and roads. At the same time MDOT has $145 million dollars tied up in a legal squabble along the US / Canada border regarding the Ambassador Bridge and Federal Stimulus Funding.
Rep. Cushingberry asked his master blogger Richard Clement to take some time to investigate the situation on the river and report back to him. And on one bright and beautiful Saturday afternoon Richard went for a ride on the river. There was a duty free shop and a lot of dirt and, there was construction that stopped at the street. On the Canadian side, all of the homes in the path of the bridge are vacant and waiting to be removed. The Ambassador Bridge is a privately owned bridge and the owner wants a new span built. They have duty free shops that sell a pack of gum with no sales tax on them so that visitors can have something to take home.
So what does this have to do with a half a pack of gum? How much is a half a pack of gum? How big is the pack in question? ($0.25 up to $1.00 for a pack of some real good Wrigley’s Spearmint. The math would be half of those amounts or $0.37 and $1.50 respectively. ) I ran into my old school neighbor from around the corner by the name of Richard Bennett. Mr. Bennett a prominent citizen of Detroit designed the African Mask Logo on the Charles H. Wright museum and he heard about the half a pack of gum increase in fuel.
I mentioned to him that did you know that for the cost of a $2.00 marijuana cigarette MDOT could have enough money to fix roads, bridges, potholes, and still have money left over for employee out of state travel. The Duty Free shops on both ends of the bridge will be allowed to sell hemp products without fear from prosecution at the hands of US Customs Agents and the Drug Enforcement Agency. If you have a valid Michigan Medical Marijuana card with your passport, you can legally have 2.5 ounces of Marijuana in your possession at the border crossing.
Before I could finish another neighbor Leodis “Tony” Elam who is a magician with carpentry work in the City walked by. He said to me “man, what are you talking about”? Richard Bennett said let him finish and we will dog him out later! Tony said go ahead and finish because I have some work to do. I carried on to say that MDOT could raise substantial amounts of revenue by allowing the utilization of land in the right of way areas of the Interstate Highway system to produce income generating crops. Crops like from corn to Industrial Hemp will fuel Michigan and create jobs for residents and sustain the economy.
What is wrong with TWO bridges? Michigan and Ontario have approved land for a brand new span about a mile away that will be built with public funds. Is there a plan for a pedestrian walkway with a bike path to Canada on the bridge? If the old span is kept then will it be converted to a pedestrian walkway? These questions must be answered for the good of all the Citizens of Detroit and Michigan in order to allow the owner to build this new bridge. The owner of the Ambassador Bridge is a very sharp person with a definite plan to get the job done. Everything else is an accounting matter that can be handled by an admission of guilt by all and a plan to pay for the overage over a period of time. Basically add up the extras, finish the job and go home.
After listening to that speech, Tony and Richard pulled out their cell phones and called their elected officials saying to them that they need to get it together in Lansing. Then they said they would cut me a break this time and said say hello to your dad.
We the Friends of Cushingberry are urging that every candidate running for office in the City of Detroit write a letter of concern to MDOT and Canadian officials seeking a settlement of this issue. We call on current Mayor Bing and the Detroit City Council to file a letter of protest with the Michigan House and Senate to have this project come to a completion. This is not the way President Obama wanted the stimulus funds to be spent as a reserve fund for attorney fees. While we know that the legal community needs employment but deep down inside, both sites must come to a conclusion to resolve these differences.
Representative Cushingberry is not happy about this situation and would like to see it resolved at once before further action is taken by the appropriations committee