It would be hard for Hollywood to invent a cartoon villain on the scale of Manuel Moroun, although Mr. Burns on The Simpsons comes close. The billionaire Mr. Moroun is spending millions of dollars in his effort to buy Michigan’s constitution and preserve a monopoly that makes him vast amounts of money but threatens this region’s economy.
Mr. Moroun owns the 83-year-old Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont. It’s the only place between Port Huron, Mich., and Buffalo where heavy automotive components can cross the Detroit River. He also owns trucking companies, duty-free shops, and gasoline and diesel stations at the bridge that make him hundreds of millions of dollars a year by some estimates.
Virtually every corporate and political leader knows a new bridge is needed between Detroit and Canada. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Canadian government have announced plans for a bridge that won’t cost Michigan taxpayers a cent. The new bridge would create thousands of good-paying construction jobs and cause Washington to give Michigan $2.2 billion in badly needed highway repair funds.
But the thought of competition enrages Mr. Moroun, whose current net worth is at least $1.5 billion. So he spent millions of dollars to get a constitutional amendment on the Michigan ballot.
Proposal 6 would effectively prevent any new tunnels and bridges to Canada, ever, unless a statewide vote is held on each project. That’s something he calculates he can easily prevent from happening, thanks to the vast campaign contributions he makes to state lawmakers.
Mr. Moroun’s monopoly is so lucrative that he has spent an astonishing $31.3 million, largely for blatantly dishonest TV commercials, to try to fool citizens into voting yes on Proposal 6 and ensuring forever his monopoly control of trade and the Detroit-Windsor border.
Every Michigan voter needs to turn thumbs down on Proposal 6, thus sending a message to Mr. Moroun that their constitution, their independence, and their state’s democracy are not for sale.