Michigan — December 21, 2011 at 7:35 am

The price of tea party politics in Troy, Michigan: investors walking away


Lots of talk these days from conservatives and tea partiers in particular about too much government spending. Rather than seeing government spending as the investment that it often is, they see nearly all government spending as waste to be eliminated. As I wrote yesterday, tea party mayor of Troy, Michigan, Janice Daniels, led a coalition of like-minded tea partiers to kill off a transit center project that was a decade in the making, kissing off $8.4 million in federal investment funds to help make the project happen.

Well, Troy is now going to pay the price for this type of mindless ideological dogma: investors are being advised to look elsewhere rather than Troy, Michigan.

Troy faced quick fallout Tuesday after scrapping plans for a federally funded transit center, as an official with a local auto supplier said he would urge the company to look elsewhere for future investment.

Frank W. Ervin III, manager of government affairs for Magna International Inc., made the comment in an email Tuesday to the president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, Michele Hodges. In the private message to Hodges, Ervin called the city’s leaders “narrow-minded when it comes to the future of Troy and the future of Southeastern Michigan” for rejecting $8.4 million in federal aid.

In the email, Ervin thanked the chamber president for her efforts to win approval for the transit center and said he plans to draft a memo to all Magna group presidents and corporate executives “strongly recommending” that the automotive supplier “no longer consider the City of Troy for future site considerations, expansions or new job creation.” […]

Hodges said City Council’s decision late Monday to turn down the project is leading to pushback from the business community, which was outspoken in its support for the plan to combine train, bus, taxi and future light-rail service at a 3-acre site near Maple and Coolidge.

We are already experiencing some fallout and disinvestment in Troy, and we need to preclude that from happening,” Hodges said Tuesday in an interview. “There’s clearly disappointment on the part of the business community. Its desire, will and recommendation was not met.”

I think this is what Adam Smith called “invisible hand of the market”. Except, in this case, it’s not so invisible.

Meanwhile, Congressman Gary Peters is attempting to keep the money in Michigan after the foolish Daniels and her colleagues spurned the federal government assistance. From his press release:

Rep. Gary Peters writes Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Governor Rick Snyder to keep Troy transit federal funding in Greater Detroit area

After Tea Party Mayor Daniels and allies on City Council reject funding, Peters works to prevent money from leaving Michigan.

TROY, MI – One day after Troy Mayor Janice Daniels and her Tea Party allies on City Council rejected $8.4 million in federal funding for the Troy transit center, Rep. Gary Peters wrote letters to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Governor Rick Snyder urging them to work to keep these funds in the Greater Detroit area.

“For Mayor Daniels and Tea Party leaders in Troy to reject federal funding for a Troy transit center is short sighted and will deny economic development opportunities for small business owners in Troy,” said Rep. Gary Peters. “But since they’ve made this decision and communities like Royal Oak and Pontiac are serious about mass transit, I’m focused on working with Transportation Secretary LaHood and Governor Snyder to keep these job creating funds in the Greater Detroit area.”

Click here to view signed copies of Rep. Peters’ letters (pdf) to Secretary LaHood and Governor Snyder