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Matty Moroun speaks exclusively to FOX 2's Charlie LeDuff

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By Charlie LeDuff
Fox 2 News Reporter


Matty Moroun is one of the richest, and yet reclusive men, in Michigan.  He rarely grants interviews, but when he spoke exclusively with Fox 2's Charlie LeDuff, the billionaire bridge owner did not hold back -- not about his bridge, not about all the property he owns and not about his intentions.

LEDUFF: You were trying to stop a public competing bridge.  You lost.  You spent a lot of money.  You now have a war with the governor.  Now what?  Are you going to lay down and let him build the bridge or are we opening another chapter here?

MOROUN: First of all, I don't think it's possible for them to build another bridge.  They've got too many problems, too many problems.  They're almost insurmountable.

LEDUFF: So why spend $40 million fighting something that they can't build anyway?

MOROUN: I just don't want them to mess our bridge up.  I want to have our own right of ways, which we're guaranteed, I thought.  But maybe they aren't.  I don't know.

LEDUFF: You've been accused that those ads were misleading, that the governor says all costs will be covered by Canada and our contribution will come out of the tolls, and you're saying that's not true?

MOROUN: It's not true at all.  How do you say when you borrow $500, they're going to take it out $5 a week out of your pay, that it's free?  Would you say that was free?

LEDUFF: I would say if you're going to loan me the money and you're going to pay me back through the tolls, I would say it's almost free.

MOROUN: But the tolls are your wages.

LEDUFF: That's right.  We're not going to make a nickel off the bridge for 50 years, but it's not going to cost us a nickel.

MOROUN: Yes it is.  You're contributing 50 percent of the money.  You're contributing 50 percent of the tolls.  That traffic just doesn't come one way.  It goes back or it starts over.  Half of the money that the bridge gets is U.S. money.  It's Michigan money.

LEDUFF: It's the best moneymaker in the world, I think Warren Buffet said it, is the toll collector, the Suez Canal, all these interchanges.

MOROUN: Most of them aren't the best moneymakers that you can make.  You've got bridges here in Michigan, you've got the Mackinac Bridge, it loses money every year.  And then the only one that might make a dollar once in awhile is the Blue Water Bridge because they don't fully allocate all the costs.  If they fully allocated all the costs of that, it wouldn't be competitive with us.  It would be maybe a $6.00 toll.  Ours would be $4.00.  And it would lose even more money, so they'd have to go to seven, they'd have to go to eight.

LEDUFF: You we're trying to educate people about the hidden costs of a money losing venture?

MOROUN: Anybody that really wants to compete with us, truly compete for fully allocated costs, including the Blue Water Bridge or a new bridge, can't do it.  You have to continue your subsidy to everything you own in Michigan that competes with us.

LEDUFF: Then it will go out of business and it won't affect you at all.

MOROUN: You're damned right.  That's why they can't build one unless they cut me off.

LEDUFF: Cut off your traffic routes?

MOROUN: That's right.

LEDUFF: So you're not worried about the competition, you're worried about access to your bridge?

MOROUN: That's right.

LEDUFF: Who are you more worried about -- the American taxpayer or Matty Moroun enterprises?

MOROUN: Our country in my book always came first, in my trucking, in the bridge, anything that I have, I love my country first.  It gives me the opportunities.  Otherwise, I would never have them.  When I was tossed in jail without one word from my mouth, I was so tickled that I lived in the United States, that the courts let me out.  I didn't dangle there.  I'm 85 years old.  This is the best country the world has ever known.

LEDUFF: You know what's funny, you remind me of a Dickens character -- the kid in rags who comes up to be the richest man in the country maybe and you go to jail and lots of people are happy because they call you a devil, that you own ghettos, that you won't fix that train station, that you're selfish, it's about Matty Moroun and let him rot in hell.

MOROUN: That's the propaganda.  The truth is there's a hundred buildings like me in Detroit, like the train station, that are empty.  I've got one of the hundred and I'm getting vilified.  Not because of the train station, that's a rouse.  It's because Canada wants to own the bridge.  They can't build another one.  It will not work.

LEDUFF: But you have lots of dilapidated buildings in Detroit?

MOROUN: Give me one besides that.

LEDUFF: Right along the waterfront.

MOROUN: What along the waterfront that's mine that's dilapidated?  Give me one.  Give me one.  What I do have is I've got places in Detroit where I hire and maintain a lot of people.  I'm the biggest employer in Delray.  I'm probably the biggest employer in that area around Central Avenue and John Kronk.

LEDUFF: Your legacy.  Lots of people consider you a tyrant.  They consider you selfish.  They consider you Ebenezer Scrooge.  Why didn't you take the $40 million and put it into city life.  Are you worried about what they're going to say about you when you're gone?  What's your legacy?

MOROUN: What $40 million?

LEDUFF: The $30 million to $40 million you spent on Prop 6 and 5.

MOROUN: I didn't spend anything like that.  I don't know exactly what we spent, but I'll tell you what, I stand for principal.  I stand for our country.  If I was dressed up in the American flag, everything would be fine.  I am the American flag.  I will do the best thing I can for our country and I've done it all my life.  I'm a quiet, private man, but somebody decided to make me something other than being private.  I didn't.  I went through 80 years without being anything but Matty Moroun.

LEDUFF: And now you're?

MOROUN: Now I'm being vilified for the last five years or so.

LEDUFF: Do you have a tail?

MOROUN: No.

LEDUFF: You don't have horns anywhere?

MOROUN: Nothing.  I do a good job.  I love people.  I try to do my job all the time.  I'd rather be private, rather be liked then what's happening to me.  Help me so I'm not being misused.

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