-By John Gallagher
June 7, 2011- The state director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity offered no apologies today for papering homes in Detroit’s Delray district Monday with fake eviction notices.
Bearing the words “Eviction Notice” in large type, the bogus notices told homeowners their properties could be taken by the Michigan Department of Transportation to make way for the New International Trade Crossing bridge project. The NITC is the subject of debate in Lansing, and Americans for Prosperity is lobbying heavily against it.
“It was meant to startle people,” Scott Hagerstrom, the group’s state director, said today. “We really wanted people to take notice. This is the time that their opinions need to be heard. We wanted people to read it.”
The fake eviction notices sparked outrage in Southwest Detroit, with State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who represents the area in Lansing, complaining that the tactic has created chaos among the district’s residents.
Hagerstrom said the fake notices were meant to prompt residents to contact lawmakers in Lansing and urge them to vote against the NITC project.
“The flyer was designed to get peoples’ attention and to let them know that their opinion still matters, and that this is the time to get involved,” Hagerstrom said today. “Once this passes and this is set in motion there’s really nothing that they can do to have a voice in what happens.”
Businessman Manuel (Matty) Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge and its operating arm, the Detroit International Bridge Co., is lobbying heavily against the NITC project because it would draw traffic and toll revenue away from his privately owned bridge. His company is running a series of TV ads against the NITC project, claiming that the project would cost Michigan taxpayers $100 million a year, a charge that NITC supporters say is false.
Hagerstrom refused to say if the bridge company was support the Americans for Prosperity lobbying campaign, saying the group’s membership and donor lists are private.