Michigan, Rick Snyder — October 26, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Sell the Mackinac Bridge???! – Oh, hellz NO!


Michigan political reporter Tim Skubick noted last week on his blog that Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder wouldn’t take selling the Mackinac Bridge off the table.

Absolutely serious.

The Mackinac Bridge is a Michigan icon. It is often how our state is represented in graphical form. Completed in 1957, it was built without the use of a single taxpayer dollar. At five miles long, it is currently the third longest bridge in the world and the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western hemisphere.

Simply put, the Mackinac Bridge IS Michigan. And GOPosauric businessman Rick Snyder has suggested that selling it for a one-time cash infusion to solve Michigan’s financial woes might be under consideration.

As far-fetched as it may seem, you can’t rule out the possibility of seeing a “For Sale” sign on the Mackinac Bridge, the state lottery and or the state freeway system.

Has it come down to this?

Here’s the inside skinny on a recent closed door meeting with GOP Gov. Candidate Rick Snyder and about twenty “experts” who were there to discuss how a new governor might address the $1.6 billion state deficit…a going away gift from the current governor.

Each participant in this so-called roundtable had three minutes to wax on the question. One of the issues discussed was the privatization of certain state services and in that context, you would have to include the Big Mac Bridge, the successful lottery and the freeways. This is nothing new as all three have been up for discussion before but nothing has come to fruition.

Asked about all this on WJR radio the other day, Mr. Snyder had a chance to reject the fire sale concept, but instead he confessed that “everything is on the table.”

Snyder’s opponent, Democratic Lansing mayor Virg Bernero held a press conference at the Mighty Mac today to highlight the preposterousness of this idea. From their press release:

Gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero and a throng of supporters stood at the Upper Peninsula foot of the Mackinac Bridge today to hold a “Save the Bridge” rally and oppose plans to sell off the Bridge to a private corporation. Bernero’s opponent, Rick Snyder, said recently that he would consider selling off the Mackinac Bridge as a way to make short-term money for the State.

“I strongly disagree with Mr. Snyder on this. I will not consider selling off the Mackinac Bridge for one second,” said Bernero. “The Mackinac Bridge is one of our state’s most cherished symbols. This would be like selling out a piece of who we are as Michiganders.”

Snyder is now backtracking, of course. He told the Associated Press that he has no intention of selling the bridge and has never said otherwise.

This is the kind of thing you get, though, when you have a Republican businessman running for governor, a man with no prior political experience. You get proposals that address the bottom line and only the bottom line. How do you factor in the intangibles associated with something like the iconic Mackinac Bridge? What price tag do you put on the importance of this historical engineering achievement to Michiganders? The answer is that you cannot. There is no way to put a dollar figure on the “worth” of something like this. Just like you cannot run a state government like a business. Businesses are in the businesses of making money for their owners and shareholders. Governments are in the business of serving their constituents. The two ends are more often at odds than they are not. Profit-seeking will almost never coincide with serving people because you cannot put a price, a “worth” on meeting the needs of the citizens you serve.

Snyder may be backtracking now but only because Bernero and others are pushing him to do so. We need to continue to fight against the whole idea of running a state like a business because they are NOT a business. And Democrats know that.

Oh, and one more thing: if Big Mac is sold to a private company, it’s safe to assume that the cost to use the bridge will go UP. This, as wizardkitten points out at Blogging for Michigan, is simply a tax-increase-disguise, one that will likely be higher than if they just went ahead and raised taxes.

Meanwhile, the city Virg heads up, Lansing, Michigan, is among the top 10 cities in the USA in terms of job growth:

The city has added about 30 businesses to its downtown area since April 2009…[and] Kiplinger recently named Lansing one of the top places to live for young people.
The Milken Institute, an independent think tank in Santa Monica, Calif., last week named Lansing among the top 10 regions for job growth in the nation, and also deemed Lansing the fastest-growing city in Michigan.

THESE are the types of successes we should be seeking in a governor and Virg Bernero has them in spades. Contribute to his campaign HERE or HERE.

I’m just sayin…