Former Gov. John Engler, six years out of office, is still
impacting the current governor.
First, he left her an unmanageable deficit, but then every outgoing governor does that.
Second, while she never wanted to be like John Engler, many have concluded she does have the guts, savvy, and negotiating skills to even be in the same room with the Big Guy.
Third, Engler was not afraid to take on the City of Detroit and that legacy is now fresh in Gov. Jennifer Granholm's head.
Back in 1994, Engler engineered legislation to abolish the Detroit School Board and installed a "reform" board of his own.
Granholm is now in the same Detroit School board boat and is
very very sensitive…thanks to what Engler did. She does not want to stir up the emotions of Detroiters, but yet she has to do something to erase a whooping $400 million deficit if the local board can't.
Because it has not, the Granholm administration has sent in a review team to document the red ink and work with the local board to sop up the ink. But here's the rub, if that can't be ironed out in 30 days, the State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan will have to appoint a money manager to run the school's finances.
With fond memories of the Engler takeover in her mind, Gov. Jennifer Granholm reminded reporters she won't do that.
In fact, a press aide suggested, "We are not using the takeover word."
The governor says if she and Flanagan have to assign an emergency manager it will be at the invitation of the local board. It will be a "partnership," Granholm emphasizes to avoid any link to the Engler past.
"I understand the racial overtones," explains Flanagan as he expresses hope the local board can solve its own problem without state intersession.
Having just interjected herself into the Kwame Kilpatrick mess as judge and jury, Granholm does not want to pull another Engler on the good folks in Motown.
Read her lips…this is not a takeover.