Letters to the Editor

Nov 4, 2009 at 12:00 am

Don't trust Moroun

I write regarding your News Hit "There goes a secret" (Oct. 21), about the inspection report finding the Ambassador Bridge in "fair" condition.

Matty Moroun, the enigmatic owner of the Detroit International Bridge Company, was hoping you would blindly trust in him when it came to the safety condition of the Ambassador Bridge. He vigorously fought in court and failed to keep secret his inspection report. You were supposed to be bedazzled by his business brilliance, not bothered by boring engineering evaluations.

Upon examination of the publicly released portion of the 2007 inspection report, it is evident that Moroun has been spending time counting cash instead of using it for urgent repairs and upkeep. The actual inspection took place in 2005, and, way back then, it was determined (see Section 7.4) the main deck, which vehicles drive over, was in "poor condition." That is like receiving a "D" on a report card — far below an evaluation of "excellent," "good" or even "fair."

And what did the Baron of the Border do with his failing grade from four years ago? Nothing, until the report became public last week. Then all of sudden he announced a multi-year, complete deck replacement of the Ambassador Bridge which would "likely" begin in 2010 and last a couple years.

Much like his promise to renovate Michigan Central Depot, don't hold your breath he will keep his word.

The Ambassador Bridge is a strategic public use infrastructure that supports our economy. This bridge needs to be regularly and thoroughly inspected by appropriate government authorities for safety. We can no longer rely upon classified conclusions of the owner's paid consultants. If the government is without power to enter the privately owned bridge property and inspect, it needs to acquire that legislative authority — immediately.

We are indebted to Metro Times and politicians such as Rep. John Dingell and state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who have shown courage to stand up to billionaire Moroun and demand he be accountable to the public and its laws. Other politicians need to follow their lead. It should not be Moroun, but his bridge they are afraid to cross. —Gregg M. Ward, vice president, Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry, Detroit

A Roky road

Really enjoyed the Roky Erickson story and interview ("He has never been here before," Oct. 28). I helped take care of Roky for about two years, 1994 to 1996, when he was still in a full schizophrenic state and living rather destitute out by what was then an Air Force base and is now the airport in Del Valle, Texas, east of town.

But even then, he was sweet and actually utterly delightful company most of the time when I'd take him to eat and to the store to get the things he needed. And he had not just a couple of TVs running at the same time but radios and scanners going, to, yes, drown out the voices in his head.

He's never spoken much about his music or much at all in interviews, but I could tell from the interview that he liked speaking with you.

There's so much I can say about Roky from spending so much time with him. Two big things, though: a) he can read minds; I shit you not; and b) he is one of the strongest humans on the planet to have lived through all of his travails and still even be alive.

There was a time — before his brother Sumner intervened to save him (and there's a whole huge story around that as a postscript to the documentary) — when I thought we would lose him. So it's really great to see Roky being active and stable and, I believe, happy. —Rob Patterson, Austin, Texas

Pleasant moments

Re: ("Keepin' in stride," Oct. 28). In a beautifully written piece, Charles L. Latimer expressed in words what I can only express in music. The time and effort he put into the article illustrate your high standards for reporting. His patience in listening to me gave me the impression that he wanted to tell the story of ragtime as much as I did, and it was a pleasure to see my sentences woven into such an excellent story. His words legitimized me as a ragtime pianist and lecturer, and I am very grateful. —Taslimah Bey, Rochester Hills

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