From The Detroit News
With the derelict Michigan Central Train Depot as a backdrop, hundreds of Detroiters on Friday demanded more jobs as well as more accountability from Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun.
The rally, sponsored by the AFL-CIO-backed Good Jobs Now team and the Service Employees International Union, was held at Roosevelt Park and featured a 12-foot-tall caricature of the controversial billionaire.
Moroun, who has been taking heat for the condition of the building since he purchased it in 1996, has also been waging a bitter fight against the construction of a new, publicly owned bridge to Windsor.
Moroun wants to build a twin to the aging Ambassador Bridge and argues plans for a publicly owned bridge favored by Gov. Rick Snyder would take money from his bridge while leaving taxpayers on the hook for construction costs. Snyder continued to lobby for a publicly owned span Friday on Mackinac Island.
“If he was to tear down or restore the train depot, it would create jobs for Detroiters. Instead, blight takes jobs away, which is a problem for Detroiters,” said Detroit resident JoMeca Thomas, a member of Good Jobs Now.
Owners of Detroit International Bridge Co., which owns and operates the Ambassador Bridge, were unavailable for comment, according to a company spokesman.
In March, Moroun announced that renovations would soon begin on the 98-year-old depot that would include a new roof and new windows for the 18-story building.
The last train to pull out of the station was on Jan. 6, 1988. Despite fences, barbed wire and guards, thieves and vandals have wreaked havoc on the building since Moroun purchased it.
Democratic State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who represents southwest Detroit where the depot and bridge are located, addressed the crowd Friday.
“The people of Detroit want jobs, and they want people to be accountable,” Tlaib said.
Tlaib said she wasn’t surprised Moroun didn’t appear at the rally.
“But if he did appear, I’d tell him that people become demoralized when they see the derelict depot, see the abandoned homes that he owns and trucks rumbling through their neighborhoods.
“I’d tell him ‘Matty, open your eyes!’ ”
Retired construction worker Clifford Marion, who attended the rally, said he agrees with Moroun’s bridge view.
“I don’t see the need for another bridge,” said Marion of Detroit. “I’d rather they took the money to build another bridge and use it to create jobs here in Detroit. This rally is all about jobs, jobs, jobs.”