Bridge spin

The bridge company is back in court, without Stamper this time

So much is going on with Manuel "Matty" Moroun's Detroit International Bridge Co. that the beleaguered souls at News Hits can hardly keep up. Just last week, the company was simultaneously in front of two different judges over at the Wayne County Circuit Court.

In one long-ongoing case, the city of Detroit and the company were in front of Judge Kathleen MacDonald, who is presiding over a dispute involving the section of 23rd Street that the company fenced off and paved over for use as part of its sprawling truck plaza and duty-free shop. As best as we can tell, progress is slowly being made in the direction of the city essentially giving its OK for the company to use property it has already taken without first receiving permission.

Imagine that. But for anything to be finalized, the City Council will have to grant approval. Seems to us that Detroit has ol' Matty over a barrel on that one, and could be in a position to exact a heavy toll from the billionaire mogul.

At the same time, with newly hired attorney Reginald Turner leading the way, the company was in front of Judge Prentis Edwards trying to explain why it shouldn't face further sanctions for failing to adhere to a court order telling the company it has to abide by the provision of its Gateway Project contract with the state Department of Transportation. The last time there was a similar hearing, Edwards threw bridge company president Dan Stamper in the slammer for a few hours to impress upon all the seriousness of his desire to have the company tear down what should not have been built — including the infamous ramp to nowhere that is an approach to the new bridge Moroun wants to build but doesn't yet have permission for.

The state, more than fed up with the delays at this point, asked the judge to start fining the company $100,000 a day. Even for a guy as rich as Matty, that's a hefty chunk of change.

The judge didn't seem much moved by the company making essentially the same argument he has previously rejected — that argument being there was never any real final plan for it to adhere to — and said he would consider what he's going to do next and then get back to everyone with his decision.

The courtroom, by the way, was filled with media, we suspect, who were waiting to see Stamper again taken away in handcuffs. Stamper, who is usually present at these proceedings, for some reason didn't make it to this one.

Wonder why?

Outside the courtroom, southwest Detroit resident and community activist Deb Sumner — who a few days before participated in an uprising and helped tear down a fence the company had illegally erected in Riverside Park, was beyond frustrated at all the delays.

"In my opinion, Dan Stamper needs to be put back in jail, along with Matty Moroun this time," she opined. "This is a billionaire who believes that he can behave and do as he pleases."

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