It’s pretty clear where some of the region’s heavy-hitters in the business community stand on mass transit, especially after a letter sent to the executives signed by nearly three dozen people.
In a letter sent to Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, they line out many of the benefits they see in allowing the regional transit plan by the Regional Transit Authority to come to a vote.
Dated July 27, 2016
Dear Executives Patterson and Hackel:
As leaders of Southeast Michigan’s largest businesses, health systems, colleges, non-profits, and other institutions invested in the future of this region, we are asking you to work through any open issues in the days ahead to ensure that the people of this region have the opportunity to vote on the regional transit plan.
Virtually all of us signing this letter lead regional institutions. Our employees live across the region. Our facilities are located across the region. Our students come from across the region. Our ability to attract and retain talent is tied to what we have to offer as a region. It takes but a glance at successful regions across the nation to know that the issue before us is one of the most important regional issues of our lifetime.
We have come too far, after too long, to see our best shot at regional transit in a generation fall before the people are able to decide.
We appreciate that you have expressed past support for regional transit, and that you want the time to get it right. That time is short, measured in days.
The weight of this moment is great. We are asking you to come to a resolution of the issues you have raised so that the people of this region, as a region, can have the chance to decide on something fundamentally important to our collective future.
Gerard M. Anderson, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, DTE Energy
Dennis Archer, Jr., Founding Principal & President, Archer Corporate Services, LLC
Sandy Baruah, President & CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber
John Carter, President, Michigan Middle Market, Chase, J.P. Morgan Securities, LLC
Matt Cullen, President & CEO, Rock Ventures, LLC
Mark Davidoff, Michigan Managing Partner, Deloitte LLP
Bud Denker, Executive Vice President, Penske Corporation
Richard DeVore, Regional President – Detroit and Southeast Michigan, PNC Financial Services Group
Shauna Ryder Diggs, MD, Regent, University of Michigan
David Egner, President & CEO, The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
Linda Forte, Senior Vice President, Comerica Incorporated
John T. Fox, President & CEO, Beaumont Health
Dan Gilbert, Founder & Chairman, Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures LLC
J.G. Ted Gillary, Executive Manager, Detroit Athletic Club
Antoine Garibaldi, Ph.D., President, University of Detroit Mercy
Herman B. Gray, MD, MBA, President & CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan
Cindy Hill, DRIVE
Sen. Carl Levin, Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn, LLP
Daniel J. Loepp, President & CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Florine Mark, President & CEO, The WW Group, Inc.
Jean Meyer, President & CEO, St. John Providence Health System
Patricia E. Mooradian, President, The Henry Ford
Rev. Louise R. Ott, Congregational Church of Birmingham
Heather C. Paquette, Managing Partner, KPMG LLP
Roger S. Penske, Founder & Chairman, Penske Corporation
Cameron H. Piggott, Member, Dykema Gossett PLLC
Rip Rapson, President & CEO, The Kresge Foundation
Michael T. Ritchie, President – Michigan Market, Comerica Bank
Andra Rush, Founder, President & CEO, Rush Group LLC
Nancy M. Schlichting, Chief Executive Officer, Henry Ford Health System
Ramesh (Ray) Telang, Greater Michigan Market Managing Partner, PwC
Brad Simmons, Director, Government and Stakeholder Relations, Ford Motor Company
Mark Wallace, President & CEO, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
Roy Wilson, President, Wayne State University
Hackel has raised objections that include the entire structure of the RTA, saying that everyone on the board should have veto power. That, however, would require re-opening the legislation that was passed to set up the Regional Transit Authority and Hackel has stated his openness to that. Both executives raised issues about not enough funding staying in Oakland and Macomb County.
From a practical standpoint, sending the process back to the legislature would put the effort close to back at square one.
A vote is scheduled for tomorrow at 1 p.m. to put the issue on the November ballot by the RTA board. August 16 is the ballot deadline for the November election.