The People Should Decide ballot petition challenged

Aug 22, 2012

(Updated)

A newly created group is challenging a ballot petition that would require a vote on future international bridge and tunnel crossings.

The group Taxpayers Against Monopolies supports a New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor, so it’s challenging a ballot petition filed by The People Should Decide which is supported by the Ambassador Bridge owners, the Moroun family.

The ballot petition would require a vote on all international crossings that use any taxpayer money.

Tom Shields is a spokesman for Taxpayers Against Monopolies. He says the ballot petition is legally flawed because it didn’t tell signers how the constitution would be affected.

“They failed to provide the information to the voters which would tell them the sections that they are changing and the words they are changing.”

Shields says the ballot language is "sloppy," arguing it could be construed to require a vote on any bridge in the state.

Beyond those arguments, Shields and his group say it's not right that there's only one reason this constitutional amendment has been proposed.

“Designed solely to protect the interest of one single interest or one single family. And that’s what the Moroun family has tried to do with this ballot proposal is protect their interests and protect their monopoly so that they do not have to face competition from the New International Trade Crossing that the Governor is supporting and the Canadian government has agreed to pay for.”

A spokesman for the Ambassador Bridge company has said the proposed constitutional amendment is not designed to stop the new bridge, but only to give voters a chance to decide on new bridges and tunnels.

A spokesman for the Ambassador Bridge and the Director of The People Should Decide, Mickey Blashfield, said in a statement emailed to Michigan Radio late Wednesday afternoon, “This challenge is a gross mischaracterization of the plain meaning of The People Should Decide initiative, and it is nothing but a deliberate attempt to mislead Michigan voters with the hope that the voters will abandon common sense. The proposed is written in plain English and meets all legal requirements. More than 600,000 voters understood what it meant when they signed the petitions and joined the chorus of those calling for a say in how public money is spent on international crossings in November. The proposal is appropriately submitted to the voters for approval, and we are fully confident our language will stand up to this ridiculous challenge.”

On Monday the Board of State Canvassers is expected to rule on whether the proposal will be allowed on the November ballot. Regardless of the decision, it will likely be taken to the courts.