Troy transit vote turned down by City Council 12/20
This was a big enough deal that it got picked up by the New York Times.
Michigan City Turns Down Millions of Dollars, Saying Federal Money Is Not Free
In what could be a new high water mark of anti-Washington sentiment, the city of Troy, Mich., is rejecting a long-planned transportation center whose construction would have been fully financed with federal stimulus money.No kidding. The rejection of the transit center is already undermining business confidence in Troy.
The terminal, which would help Troy become a transportation node on an upgraded Detroit-to-Chicago Amtrak line, was hailed by supporters as a way to create jobs and to spur economic development. But federal money is federal money, so with the urging of the new mayor, who helped found the local Tea Party chapter, the City Council cast a 4-to-3 vote this week against granting a crucial contract, sending the project into limbo.
“There’s nothing free about government money,” Mayor Janice Daniels said in an interview. “It’s never free, and it’s crippling our way of life.”
Taking Tea Party reasoning to the local level has outraged supporters of the transit center, which has been in the works for a decade. Michele Hodges, the president of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, which supports the transit project, said that her organization “will be a pit bull for what’s best for this community.”
David A. Kotwicki, a local lawyer, noted that members of Congress might talk tough on spending, but that they still bring projects home to their districts. The vote against the transit center, he said, looks like “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
On Tuesday, an official of Magna International, a global automotive supplier based in Canada whose American headquarters are in Troy, expressed frustration with the City Council vote in a private e-mail to Ms. Hodges and others that was posted to a blog that favors the transit center.For more coverage of this issue, I recommend you read Keep Troy Strong, where my friend Sharon has been tirelessly covering Janice Daniels and the Troy Tea Party since October of last year.
“I am drafting a memo to all Magna group presidents and our Magna corporate executives strongly recommending that Magna International no longer consider the City of Troy for future site considerations, expansions or new job creation,” wrote Frank W. Ervin III, the company’s manager of government affairs. “I have also recommended that where ever and when ever possible we reduce our footprint and employment level in Troy” in favor of communities that act in the best interests of residents and business and that do “not simply use their public position to advance their own private agenda.”
Ed Myles, the president of a local manufacturing company, J.E. Myles & Co., said that the area, like the rest of the country, had been hurt by the recession and that it could use the economic boost that the transit center could provide. He said he worried about what companies like Magna would do. The council’s vote “put the kibosh on any other companies moving here.”
“It’s all politics,” he said. “In the meantime, people are suffering.”