Lansing, MI Tea Party is Now Grassroots in Michigan
Tags: 10-10-10, 10th amendment, apackof2, “Your Body is Your ID”, Bill Schuette, blogging, Campaign for Liberty, Concessions, fake Tea Party, Grassroots Activist, grassroots in michigan, Justice Robert P. Young, lansing, mi, michigan, Michigan Appeals Court, nullification, Oakland County, Paul Opsommer, RFID, Ruth Johnson, Secretary of State, sovereignty, states rights, Supreme Court, tea party, Tony Demott
Grassroots in Michigan’s
10-10-10 in Support of the 10th Amendment Tea Party!
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Sunday, Oct. 10th
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved by it to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Join your fellow Michigan patriots as we support our 10th Amendment
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Mark Lerner co-Founded two national organizations; the Constitutional Alliance and Stop Real ID Coalition and is the author of the new book and DVD, “Your Body is Your ID” available online and at the event.
Mark has spent the last six years openly speaking out against the same industry he once supported. He has testified before many state legislatures, including Michigan on the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and national/international identification cards.
Rep. Paul Opsommer has been on the forefront in Michigan introducing sovereignty legislation including HJR YY , HB6414 and in the fight against the RFID “enhanced” drivers license in Michigan
Ruth Johnson, GOP candidate for Secretary of State, former Michigan House Rep currently Clerk and Registry of Deeds for Oakland County, second’s second largest County. Ruth’s investigation helped to expose the “fake” Tea Party and keep them off the November general election ballot.
Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., candidate for Michigan Superme Court. Justice Young has been a member of the Michigan Supreme Court for 11 years. Before joining the Supreme Court, Justice Young served as a judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Mary Beth Kelly, candidate for Michigan Supreme Court. Mary Beth Kelly has served on the Wayne County Circuit Court for eleven years. In 2002, the Michigan Supreme Court appointed her the Chief Judge of the Court, making her the first woman in history to lead that bench.
Bill Schuette, GOP candidate for Attorney General is a former Congressman, Michigan Senator and Michigan Appeals Court judge and currently an attorney.
Tony Demott, Michigan State Coordinator for Campaign for Liberty, Gulf War Veteran, Chairman of the Washtenaw County Board of Canvassers, and Grassroots Activist.
Tags: 10th amendment, Ambassador Bridge, apackof2, availability payment, Canada, Detroit, Detroit International River Crossing, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, DRIC, eminent domain, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, grassroots in michigan, HB 4961, instrumentality of government, L. Brooks Patterson, Manuel “Matty” Moroun, MDOT, mi, michigan, noncompete clause, OMERS, P3, Paul Opsommer, Public Private Partnerships, Southeast Michigan, sovereighty, states rights, tolling contracts
Recently I had an opportunity to converse with Rep. Paul Opsommer about the hotly debated DRIC bridge and HB 4961.
Below is the results:
Joan: Rep. Opsommer, thank you for your time. As Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee I appreciate the information you have to share today.
Rep. Opsommer: Thank you, it is my pleasure.
Joan: I have to tell you, HB 4961 is a very confusing bill. I know it is supposed to relate to the DRIC (Detroit International River Crossing) bridge debate, but you would never know that by reading the bill.
Rep. Opsommer: You’re absolutely right, it is confusing. What HB 4961 does is give MDOT new powers to enter into a variety of tolling contracts on their own, without legislative approval. If you’re on the inside you know that one of the projects they would like to do is the DRIC, so that is why the mainstream media is calling it the DRIC bill. But the word DRIC or any of its details aren’t actually in it.
Joan: So why write the bill like that? Wouldn’t it be normal to just write a bill specific for that bridge?
Rep. Opsommer: MDOT absolutely could, and in fact if you look at all the rest of the toll projects we have here in MI they have been authorized only after the legislature has voted to specifically allow for tolling to take place. I have a letter from the Attorney General’s office that confirms that currently MDOT can’t toll bridges, roads, or other projects on their own; they have to get permission from the legislature first.
Joan: And that would go away then if HB 4961 is passed?
Rep. Opsommer: Yes, it would. MDOT would be able to create and enter into these tolling projects on their own, and the legislature would have no say in it. And that would apply not just to the DRIC, but to any project anywhere in Michigan that MDOT would like to toll.
The jury is still out in Michigan on how much people want to see tolling get used; I hear arguments on both sides. But when I talk to taxpayers there is wide agreement that decisions on where to toll, and how high the toll rates can go, should stay with someone who is elected. Otherwise you have unelected bureaucrats making those decisions, and whether you want to call it a toll, a user fee, or a tax, I think we should make sure it is still the legislature who approves the use of toll roads in particular. This is even more important when I hear that toll road rates would be used not just to break even on a project, but as a source of revenue for mass transit and other projects. If you are going to set toll rates not based on breaking even but to generate revenue for other purposes, it is no longer a user fee, it is a tax.
Joan: The Governor has control over MDOT, correct?
Rep. Opsommer: Yes, it is her department, but if you cut out the legislature you lose an important check and balance. The Governor would be able to enter into tolling contracts on her own. In my mind whether you want to look at it as the administration having that power or MDOT, it is very similar either way. Otherwise, you might find that some of the roads in your backyard have been turned into carpool lanes, or toll roads, and there won’t be anything your State Representative or Senator can do about that.
Joan: So they can’t just change the law?
Rep. Opsommer: Maybe going forward, but not after the fact. There is for example a moratorium on these kinds of projects now in Texas, called “Public Private Partnerships”, because people got upset after the law was passed and projects were underway. But the projects that were already started had to be allowed to go forward because the contracts had already been entered into. These agreements can be worth billions of dollars over the life of the contract. They can last 50, 75, even 99 years or more, and the lawsuits that would arise out of trying to break them would be monumental. You remember what happened here in Michigan with the contract for the State Police HQ. That contract would be small peanuts by comparison.
Joan : The term used to describe these projects in HB 4961 is called “Public Private Partnerships” Can you define for me Public Private Partnerships?
Rep. Opsommer: Well, these are generically referred to as “P3s”. I think everyone knows what a public road is, and everyone knows what a private road is. A P3 is kind of like a blend of the two, that depending on who you talk to can either bring the best or the worst of big government and big business together.
Joan: How would you answer that question?
Rep. Opsommer: To me, it all comes down to how much taxpayers can be on the short end of the stick if a toll operator doesn’t get enough revenue. Let me explain how these work. In some cases, what will happen is the state will lease a piece of its infrastructure over to a third party. The state gets a big chunk of money upfront, and in exchange the private operator is allowed to use tolls or charge the state rent on those roads for several decades to both recoup that money and also make a profit. In other cases they will build a new road and essentially do the same thing.
Most people who have called my office are more concerned when existing infrastructure is leased out than they are over when something new is being built. They don’t like the idea that something that they have already paid for and already owned is being handed over. In the case of the DRIC bridge, we would be looking at them building something new. The main concern for me there is whether the state would have to come up with “availability payments” if toll revenue isn’t adequate to cover the cost of maintaining the bridge. Because if the state has to pay, we all know that really means taxpayers.
Joan: What is an availability payment?
Rep. Opsommer: I guess you could best describe it as a form of rent, kind of like a financial guarantee. Basically, MDOT could enter into one of these tolling agreements and structure it in a way where the private operator would be guaranteed a certain amount of money every month. It would be set up so that they would get that money primarily through tolls, but in months when not enough people drove, the state would step in and make up the difference. So that is one way taxpayers could end up on the hook if you do these wrong, because we would have to take that money somehow out of our general fund or gas tax revenue.
Joan: So why would the state make that guarantee? The way I have heard the DRIC bridge described it would be private companies taking on all the risk.
Rep. Opsommer: Well, that is kind of the rub, and the debate, and that is why people realize that a public-private partnership is not the same as a truly private project. In a truly private project, a private operator does assume all of the risk. If they have a month where ridership is down, they eat that. There are no guarantees for them, there are no noncompete clauses to protect them, and they can’t rely on eminent domain to secure property for them. Those are the kinds of questions that need to be answered before you can determine if a P3 is prudent or if it is just a government sanctioned monopoly.
Joan: What is a noncompete clause?
Rep. Opsommer: They can mean a lot of different things, but in general they are parts of these contracts that help to give the private operator certainty that they will be able to make a higher rate of return on their investment. In some past cases, they actually prohibited the public from building for example any new roads that were close enough to the toll road where they might be considered as competition. It is my understanding that type of clause is not used much anymore, in favor of what they call “compete penalties”. This is where the public could still build its own roads, but would first have to pay the operator compensation to retain that right.
So that is another way that tax dollars come into play on these deals. In some cases the contracts are written so that you can minimize the amount of compensation that would have to be owed by intentionally slowing down some other roads to make the toll road look more attractive. There was a case of this in Colorado I was reading about where they lowered the speed limit and added traffic lights on a parallel public road in an effort to get more people to use the toll road instead.
Joan: Really. Is that legal?
Rep. Opsommer: I’m not sure if there have ever been any decided court cases over that, but that is what is in some of these contracts and how they get enforced. These contracts get relied on and when people complain everyone shrugs their shoulders and says I didn’t vote for it, it’s part of the contract and out of my control. That is one reason why I think you still want the legislature to vote on where these contracts can be entered into, so we can put some qualifications on them to make sure they don’t run counter to legislative intent. I’m a free market advocate, but I’m not an advocate for a fixed market based on collusion and public manipulation.
Joan: Rep. Opsommer, you also mentioned eminent domain. Didn’t we change law so that you can’t take private property from one person if you are just doing that for another private entities business purposes or profit? There was a big reaction to the Supreme Court case.
Rep Opsommer: Well, it is my understanding that eminent domain concerns were one of the reasons for the moratorium on these in Texas. Depending on who you listen to they wanted to construct parts of the so called NAFTA superhighway, which was going to be a big project and was going to take a lot of land that some people didn’t want to sell.
I wasn’t there so I don’t know the ins and outs of all that, but I do have a question about eminent domain and how it would work under HB 4961 because of some clauses about additional commercial activities and also how they define an instrumentality of government. So you may not be talking about property just for roads and bridges, but also for gas stations, fast food restaurants, or things like hotels if they are part of the project. And even if eminent domain remains with a public body, it needs to be in a public body wholly from this state, not in a non-domestic instrumentality of government.
Joan: Rep. Opsommer would you please explain what an “instrumentality of government is?”
Rep. Opsommer: That is a good question, I’m not sure if it is entirely clear in HB 4961 as written. My first take on it is that it is a kind of “government authority”. Authorities are new governmental bodies that get made by other governments in order to do things jointly. For example, you may have several fire departments in different communities that come together and form a fire authority that somewhat merges the departments.
In the case of HB 4961, MDOT gets to create new authorities between them and other governmental units to form a new instrumentality of government that would govern a certain project. It would have the powers of MDOT, but other members in the authority would also get to help make decisions. When you look at how HB 4961 defines an instrumentality of government it includes governments from other countries and other states. So if a project gets governed by a mixed authority, you could have people from outside of Michigan having a vote on what happens regarding toll rates or eminent domain on the Michigan side of the border.
Joan: Well I find that alarming! Can you give me an example?
Rep. Opsommer: Well, let’s use the DRIC as an example. You could set it up so that Michigan owns its half of the bridge, and Canada the other half. Michigan then sets the toll rates on its side. That is how the Bluewater Bridge works for example. But if they want to create a new instrumentality of government to be the authority that governs the entire bridge and sets those rates, they need to find a way to bring Canada in. Some other bridges are set up that way.
I think it should be up to the legislature to be part of that process, determining how it would work, rather than just letting MDOT be able to approve it. I mean, Canada is supposedly loaning us $550 million dollars to help build this. I want to make sure there are no strings attached to that money. I don’t want a situation where as a result of that money we only end up owning 40% of the bridge. I don’t want to see a situation where eminent domain decisions are getting made on property holdouts on the Michigan side in way we can be outvoted.
Joan: And that hasn’t that all been decided?
Rep. Opsommer: No, not at all. You will read a lot in the main stream media that would make you think that. But there is nothing official. Remember, as you said, DRIC is not even mentioned in the bill. In fact, Canada or Canadian corporations being an instrumentality of government isn’t limited to just the DRIC. Like most of HB 4961, it is very open ended, and since they want to include governments from even other states, you have to assume that there are other mixed-governance projects like this that they have in mind.
Joan: Is it just Canada, or Canadian Corporations also?
Rep. Opsommer: The bill says both. I am looking into that, and they appear to be corporations that could best be described quickly as similar to not for profit corporations. I wanted to find out if the Ontario pension fund OMERS could be one of those corporations, but if they could I think it would have to be as a sister company.
Joan: Both? That’s another cause for alarm. Who is OMERS?
Rep. Opsommer: They are one of the likely bidders on a P3 for the DRIC. They were recently granted new investment powers by the Canadian government, and as we see more instability in stocks and bonds there is this push to find ways to turn transportation projects into a reliable stream of revenue. I think it is one of the reasons Canada is so interested in doing all of this. They have fought with the Ambassador Bridge on some issues, and if the DRIC would allow them to bypass that and also earn their pension funds profit at the same time, I see how this would be a big win for them.
Joan: So, what are your thoughts? Is the DRIC going to be built?
Rep. Opsommer: I honestly have no idea. It has passed out of the House, and could be voted on in the Senate any day. It’s obviously an important issue I have been involved with, but until I get answers to all of these questions its hard to say with any degree of certainty what it is you are even being asked to vote on. But as long as they are wrapping the DRIC bridge up into the P3 bill HB 4961 it will certainly be a highly controversial issue. I don’t want to see tolling take place in the counties I represent just because of a bridge debate on the other side of the state, especially when HB 4961 would strip me of being able to vote on it.
Joan: Are these laws allowing for that right to be stripped away in other states, or is this just being proposed in Michigan?
Rep. Opsommer: In some they only allow these with legislative approval, but in other cases they are indeed taking that power away. California is an example where their DOT doesn’t have as broad of power as what is being proposed in MI, but they recently changed the law there and stripped away the power from the legislature. So in some ways what MDOT is proposing is less than what they now have in California, but in other ways they want to mirror what Schwarzenegger has done and even go beyond that.
In Chicago they have done a lot of P3 projects, they recently turned their parking meters into a P3 project, and they almost did the same thing with the airport. Things have slowed down there a little because of the scandal with Governor Blagojevich that was in part due to him allegedly trying to raise cash with his unilateral ability to enter into projects like these. That case is now being heard, so we’ll have to see what the facts are in the end.
But Chicago has in general been raked over the coals for these deals because they have almost entirely spent all the money they received on these deals less than 5 years into them when most of the contracts last for 75-99 years. This is how they balanced their budget to a certain degree, but I think eventually they are going to run out of public infrastructure to put on the market, and they’ll end up at the exact same place they started.
Joan: Rep. Opsommer, thank you for your time. I appreciate your updating us on this important issue.
Rep. Opsommer: Thank-you.
Tags: apackof2, candidate, candidate questionnaire, constitutional candidates, current events, election 2010, government control, michigan, out of control spending, politics, progressives, take michigan back, tea party, vote
The results of the M.A.P.S Candidate Questionnaire is BELOW
The Purpose of the M.A.P.S. Candidate Questionnaire Project is:
1. Provide a tool to help tea party movement adherents determine a Constitutional Conservative Candidate with character who is worthy of their time and money.
2. To encourage involvement BEFORE the Primary (and after) for the Constitutional Conservative Candidate with character, of choice.
The liberal progressives are working hard, we need to work harder in support of our candidates!
M.A.P.S IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF CANDIDATES RATHER A TOOL FOR YOU TO USE TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHOICE
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Any local, state or national Michigan candidate for office who wishes to fill out a Questionnaire may e-mail us at email@example.com and we will be happy to send a questionnaire
We will continue to send out the results of the M.A.P.S. Candidate Questionnaires as we receive them from candidates
REMEMBER: THE BEST WAY TO GET TO KNOW ANY CANDIDATE IS TO MAKE CONTACT WITH THEM!
Additional sources of research when deciding on supporting a candidate:
Michigan Votes http://www.michiganvotes.org/
Right to Life of Michigan http://www.rtl.org/#
Open Congress http://www.opencongress.org/
On the Issues http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm
Russell Kirk – Ten Conservative Principals http://www.kirkcenter.org/kirk/ten-principles.html
The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal is a nonprofit educational institute based in Mecosta, Michigan, home of the American writer and thinker Russell Kirk (1918–1994).
M.A.P.S. Candidate Questionnaire Results
Click on the Candidate Name
Bill Schuette Candidate for Attorney General
Tom Stillings Candidate for 1st District House Congressional Seat
Michael Ennis Candidate for 9th District State Senate
Lori Levi Candidate for 21st District State House of Representatives
Michael Shmina Candidate for 32nd District State House of Representatives
Jeff Hall Candidate for 67th District State House of Representatives
Tricia Opper Candidate for 67th District State House of Representatives
Laurie Raines Candidate for 71st District State House of Representatives
FOR MICHIGAN AND AMERICA!
Tags: 2010 elections, apackof2, Cameron Brown, campaign headquarters, current events, Kelly Harrigan, michigan, Mike Bishop, Mike Cox, Obama Care, out of control spending, Pete Hoesktra, politics, support your candidates, tea party, vote jeff hall
Dear Fellow Patriot and Constitutional Conservative:
As you know, we need to ensure that Constitutional Conservatives get elected this November so that we can end the Bailout, TARP, Porkulus, Obamacare madness both in Washington and in our own backyard!
As the TEA Party Movement grows and matures, more citizen activists are asking for concrete ways that they can put their energies to work for candidates who will carry their message of constitutionally limited government and fiscal responsibility to Washington, Lansing, county seats, city halls, even school boards. With so many seats up for grabs this year, knowing where to donate time and resources can be overwhelming!
To address this growing need for action-oriented opportunities which will put lead on the proverbial target to stem the tide of the job-killing, freedom-threatening, Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda both locally and nationally, Grassroots in Michigan and the Lansing, MI TEA Party are pleased to announce the launch of the Mobile Action Patriot Strikeforce, or M.A.P.S.
Time: May 13, 2010 from 7pm to 9pm
Location: Community Faith Church
Street: 2495 North Cedar Street (behind Krogers)
City/Town: Holt, MI 48842
As the TEA Party Movement has never been “one-size-fits-all,” some TEA Party activists may choose to engage directly with their local political party, while others may choose to work directly with specific campaigns. M.A.P.S provides a unique opportunity for Constitutional Conservative grassroots activists to come together, as folks did to elect Scott Brown,to provide a manpower boost when and where it is most needed. In doing so, we insure that our principles and values are being advanced in the places that matter most.
There’s much work to be done between now and November and the stakes have never been higher.Sign up today at Grassroots in Michigan
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Tags: 10th amendment, apackof2, Capitol, current events, election 2010, grassroots in michigan, lansing, michigan, national debt, Obama Care, out of control spending, politics, progressives, protest, rally, Rasmussen, tax day tea parties, taxed to death, tea party pictures
34% Say They Or Someone Close To Them Part of Tea Party Movement
Twenty-four percent (24%) of U.S. voters now say they consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s an eight-point increase from 16% a month ago. …..TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE CLICK HERE