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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just A Tad Early

     Maybe he is hoping Detroit voters will think he is THE Coleman Young?
     Coleman Young, Jr., in what can best be described as a premature act, has tossed his hat into the crowded ring of mayorial wanna-bes in Motown.
     Perhaps the freshman member of the Michigan House has done his own political calculus and concluded that with a name such as his on the ballot, he's bound to pick up some votes.  Heck, with 35 plus names on the ballot, why not take the chance.
      And a chance it most certainly is.
      Young may be his daddy's son, but he's not a carbon copy of the old man just yet.
       The fact is the junior Young is a relative political neophyte with a resume that is thin at best and reveals that he attended Wayne State and served as a Detroit City Council research and development intern.
       In stark comparison, when THE real Coleman Young was elected, he had already fought in the war, fought former Senator Joseph McCarthy during his red baiting years in the U.S. Congress, and fought his way through the union movement to the top of the political food chain where he resided for years.
      Like father like son, at this read, does not apply.  Maybe someday, with more time in grade, the son can rise to that level, but getting in the race right now makes him look a little immature and premature at the same time.
      If Father Young were still alive, he'd be cussin' his son to fetch his hat out of the ring or spend the rest of the campaign in his room.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What's in a name? Not much apparently

 They teach us in high school civics that voters are supposed to be informed before they vote.  That would include at least knowing the name of the candidate and what she or he stands for.
 This may shock you but the vast majority of voters flunked that course.
 A recent MRG poll underscores that point.
 Asked about whom they would vote for in the State Supreme Court race, only 14% went for Cliff Taylor and 16% for Diane Hathaway.  That means a whopping 68% of everyone else either didn't know who these guys were or were undecided.  It's a good bet they just didn't know.
 Cliff Taylor is the incumbent justice and Ms. Hathaway is on the Wayne County Circuit Court. Perhaps after they run some TV commercials, the number of informed voters will go up, but dollars to donuts, half of the folks who show up on November 4th won't know squat about either.
 But Taylor and Hathaway should not feel hurt.  They've got company.
 On the same survey, 45% had no idea who the candidates were for the MSU Board of Trustees.  That number is lower because Scott Romney is one of the candidates and that name is familiar with lots of older voters, even though some may think he is George Romney the deceased former governor.
  And then to top it off, the other night at a Macomb County debate with candidates for the State Board of Education, three contenders favored letting the voters pick the winners rather than giving the governor the power to appoint the board.
 Apparently they support a system where voter ignorance is bliss.

Stem cell debate turns financial

    Sitting on a fat and sassy 67% to 29% lead, the backers of the embryonic stem cell research ballot proposal may be tempted to sit on their haunches.  They do so at their own peril.
    The anti-research side is first on the air with its initial batch of TV commercials designed to peck away at that 67% level of support, but the ads have nothing to do with the issue itself.
    Ever since this issue came to life, the debate in the legislature has been about life.  The proponents contend they want to save lives, cure deadly diseases, and improve the quality of life for everyone.
    Led by the Michigan Catholic Conference and its partners at Michigan Right to Life, they have continually argued this research will destroy embryos and thus destroy life.  They have also argued this research is just one sandwich away from human cloning.
    So when the first ad hit the airwaves, everyone assumed the theme would be life and death.  
    It was money.
    Say what?
    The spot contends if this research is approved, it will cost taxpayers more money.   And as you see a guy shoveling stacks of dollar bills into a wheelbarrow, the ad suggests this has happened in other states, and it will leave a budget hole in Michigan, too.
     What is going on here is pretty clear.  The opponents have obviously focus grouped the life issue and found it to be a non-starter.  Apparently too many voters would favor curing diseases. So the strategy is to ignore that and play on  the public's distaste for spending more tax dollars.
     Running the first commercial is allowing the anti-side to define the issue but rest assured with the Taubman family kicking in some bucks, the pro-research side will be on the air saying it not your money or your life…it's your life.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Diamond Jim McCain

   They ought to call John McCain, Diamond Jim because he's been rollin the dice and so far it's come up seven.
     First he took a big gamble with Sarah the Hockey Mom and it instantly changed the dynamics of the contest.
     This week he rolled them again with a gutsy move to end his campaign in order to deal with the financial mess on Wall Street.  While you will never get anyone to admit it, from this curbside seat, he was really setting a trap and Barack Obama took the bait…hook, line and sinker.
     Obama would not acquiesce to McCain's call to scrub Friday night's first televised debate.  That was no surprise.  You seldom see a candidate in any race do what his opponent tells him to do. Arrogance is part of the reason and there is also the fear that you look weak if you succumb to some else's challenge.
     Instead Obama told everyone that presidents should know how to multi-task.  For most voters who do not talk on the phone, drive their car, text message the office and read their email all at the same time, multi-task is a meaningless term.  Obama may be surprised to find out that most "real" people don't do that.
     By rebuffing McCain's calculated overture to postpone the debate,  Obama opened the door for his challenger to run this ad:
     (John McCain looks into camera)  When this country was facing a meltdown on Wall Street, it was time to put our country first. And I did that.  I shutdown my campaign and went to Washington to do my job.  My opponent still wanted to debate while the country was in crisis.  Once more Barack Obama put his own ambitions first and his country second.
     Perhaps Obama can salvage something from his miscue especially if McCain is a no show for the debate, but for now it sure looks like the Senator from Illinois got rolled by Diamond Jim.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cockrel Visits Lansing

    Day one of Ken Cockrel in Lansing:  Honeymoon in full bloom. 
    There was not one lousy review in the bunch after the new Mayor of Detroit spent seven hours rubbing elbows with democrats and republicans trying to reassemble a battered working relationship between city and state.
    "My job is to be open and available," he suggested. Then he walked to his first meeting on Wednesday morning in the bright sunshine, which matched the optimism in the capitol concerning this new mayor on the block.
     By the time he split at 3:15, folks knew this was no Kwame Kilpatrick. Cockrel was low-keyed, humble, didn't dodge any questions and set a much-welcomed new tone.
     House Speaker Andy Dillon opined that the new mayor has the right personality and temperament20to bring the city back.
     Oakland County GOP leader Mike Bishop exchanged phone numbers with the new mayor and told him to call at anytime and Bishop says he means it.
      The governor chimed in that the mayor was "terrific and no nonsense."  She likes that.
      Cockrel seemed pleased as he reemerged into the sunshine after his hours under the dome. He concluded that everyone, both R's and D's, did want to see the city come back.
      "We've got a clean slate," he reported.
      But many didn't catch the symbolism as he jumped in the back seat of his ride.   Gone was the flashy Cadillac Escalade of the former mayor.  In its place, a very unflashy Chevy Suburban.
      Message sent and received.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Strange bedfellows

When term limits took effect, the wise folks at Michigan State University, living within a stones throw of the state capitol, figured something must be done to train future lawmakers since on the job training was not an option.
        So the Michigan Political Leadership School was formed and in 1992 two future leaders became fast friends.  They kept in touch over the years and this week one of them will welcome the other behind closed doors where few democrats venture.
        Say hello to leadership grads Craig DeRoche and Ken Cockrel, Jr.  Yes THAT Ken Cockrel .
        The new interim Mayor of Detroit makes his first foray this week to the land once inhabited by another Detroiter…Kwame something or other. 
        Cockrel brings no baggage with him to the legislative halls but the city, from which he hails, is not exactly high on the list of priorities among outstate republicans many of whom get reelected by beating up on Motown.
        When he shows up on Wednesday, there will not be any of that stuff.  There will be plenty of time for brickbats after the honeymoon.
        Thus the aforementioned Mr. DeRoche, the House Republican leader, will fling wide the doors on the House GOP caucus and welcome the new mayor into the room.
         DeRoche may tell the unlikely story of how he was the one who launched his Democratic pal on the road to the mayor's office.
        "I was listening to the radio," DeRoche begins.  Cockrel was being interviewed and DeRoche, without giving his name, called up and asked if Cockrel was going to be Mayor of Detroit.
         Cockrel deflected such a notion and the show went on.
         Later that same evening DeRoche called the Cockrel home and when the Mrs. answered he said, "Can I speak to the next Mayor of Detroit?"
          She quickly handed the receiver over to K.C. and when he heard DeRoche's voice, this time he recognized it.
          "You were the one calling on the radio!" he blurted out.
          Little did they know, that would come to this.
          Politics does bred unusual stories as a suburban Republican embraces an inner city mayor and for the moment, friendship will trump politics.

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's Only Fair

      For decades lawmakers from Macomb County have come into this town and blasted everyone else for spending too much money, raising too many taxes, and not cutting enough services.
          Ah, but now the proverbial shoe is on the other foot.
          Faced with a mushrooming deficit edging its way toward $40 million next year, the Macomb County folks are getting a chance to practice what they've been preaching to everyone else, and lo and behold, they are finding it mucho uncomfortable.
           Serves them right.
           So far they have not bitten the bullet.  In the first round of sopping up all the red ink, they dipped into the savings account to the tune of $8 million.  Not exactly a courageous vote.  But that was only a stopgap.  Seems it is tough to get enough votes to cut services for public safety and the needy.
           Some on the county commissioners complain that cuts should have been made four years ago, but they weren't.  Just like in Lansing, it is easy to pontificate, tough to follow through.
           They are now talking about shutting down a county nursing home but that only saves another $7 million, and what happens to the folks they toss out on the street?
           Perish the thought, but maybe they need a tax hike in the land of no tax hikes to maintain the quality of life?
           No one ever wants to raise taxes especially if citizens don't want it.  But at some point the pols have to decide: cut or tax.  Neither is popular. So the anti-government types in Macomb are now on the same hot seat as the folks have been in Lansing for years.
           What's that line?  Turn about is fair play.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Repeat of 1972?

       The head of the state's largest labor union got a nice media pop this past week when he suggested union members could decided who wins the race to the White House in Michigan.
        According to AFL-CIO president Mark Gaffney union voters make up about 40% of the voting population but the days of those voters marching in lock step to the polls is but a fading memory.
        In the days of Walter Ruther and maybe Leonard Woodcock, when the labor leaders told the rank and file what to do, most of them did.
        Try that now and see what happens.
        When Jennifer Granholm ran against Dick DeVos almost one out of five union folks went with the Amway guy.
        And even Gaffney concedes he'd be happy if 75% of his members plunked for Barack Obama in November. In essence he is conceding 25% of the labor vote to McCain.
        Labor leaders started losing full control over their membership back in 1972 when a guy named George Corley Wallace rambled into the Michigan Presidential Primary.  He brought along his volatile segregationist and race baiting past and a message that many blue-collar workers cottoned up to.
        And when they counted the votes, Wallace won.  Of course he had help from about one third of the GOP voters who crossed over into the open Democratic primary to give ole George Corley a pat on the back.
        Union leaders such as Doug Fraser, who ran the UAW, we're aghast that the seemingly progressive state of Michigan would make such an unprogressive statement.
 =C 2      Who knows what might have happened if Wallace had not been shot in the next primary in Maryland?  But the Michigan for Wallace vote remains a stain on the state's image.
         Gaffney is hoping that another racist's stain does not emerge this November regarding Barack Obama. 
         Asked if Obama loses here, could racism be the reason?
         "It could be. It's hard to say," he opined.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Keep The Lights Burning

      Six months in the making, state lawmakers have created a new energy package that most certainly will be an issue in the fall campaign because it includes a hike in your monthly utility bill.
      The package is so complex that about the only folks who truly understand it are DTE and Consumers Energy and a handful of lawmakers who toiled long and hard to craft this package.
      "Its garbage," protests Rep. Jack Brandenburg from Macomb County. He does not like the fact that the two major utilities will be returned to a quasi monopoly status which means less competition according to the GOP lawmaker.  He figures that will mean higher utility costs and even though he owns almost a thousand shares in DTE, he voted no.
       Even the backers admit someone will have to pay the bill for constructing new utility plants to make sure when you flip the switch, the lights g o on. They contend its about a 9% boost on your monthly bill but quickly add, if the state did nothing, we'd have to import power from neighboring states and would be held hostage to whatever price they wanted to charge.
       As Speaker Andy Dillon puts it, the cost is going up; it's a question of how high.  "Citizens are hit with four dollars a gallon gas.  We don't want four dollar a gallon electricity," he argues.
       The issue is ripe for political exploitation and bet the farm that House GOP Leader Craig DeRoche will be right in there running commercials against democrats who voted yes on the package to raise your rates.
       Dillon says the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has told him it does not want this issue used for political gain.  Only problem is DeRoche is not a member.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stop The Polls We Want To Get Off

             Enough already with all this polling crap.  Let's focus on the issues instead.
           Well there's a totally useless battle cry aimed at introducing common sense into the race for the White House.
           The media cabal will never, repeat, never drop the polling stories.  Even though it is basically a waste of time, it sells papers.  Nuf said.
            Plus, everybody loves "horse race" stories especially lazy reporters.  They take no effort to write; no effort to explain; and it is certainly more fun than trying to explain the Bush Doctrine to an electorate that could care less.
            Isn't it written somewhere that the media's job is to report on the issues thus providing the aforementioned electorate something of substance to chew on rather than the cotton candy poll stuff?
            Oh yeah, it is written but now conveniently and mostly ignored. In this dumbed down coverage of the campaign, the lipstick on a pig story, which dominated the news cycle for three whole day, gets more play while the candidate's positions on more heady stuff, gets stuffed on the obit page, if it ends up in the paper at all.
             But relief is in sight.  Thank goodness for the debates.
             Voters will have an unfiltered opportunity to see something longer than a ten second sound bite.  They will have a chance to evaluate the candidates without some loud mouth cable news channel jerk telling them what the candidate said.
             But be prepared, there will be a poll out that night to tell you who won…as if you won't be able to figure that out on your own.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ignore Her

      All  the smiles you see over there in the John McCain camp are well deserved.  Sarah Palin has single handedly reframed this campaign for the White House and for two weeks Obama and company helped her.
       And the R's can thank Mike Dukakis for that.
       When the diminutive former governor of Massachusetts ran for president, he made the fatal mistake of taking the rhetorical high road and ignored a plethora of George H. Bush attack ads.  Democrats learned never to do that again and so when Palin did her pit bull stuff, the D's pushed back.
       If fact you had the unprecedented scene of the democratic candidate for president blasting a V.P. candidate from the other side. 
     =C 2 Not anymore.
       Last week when the governor was quizzed about Palin, Gov. Jennifer Granholm had the chance to take on her female counterpart, but she did not.  Even on the issue of Palin's experience to be president, the governor confessed she didn't think she had it, but "I'm only one person…that is up to the voters to decide" she meekly added. 
       The First Gentleman Dan Mulhern also did a 180.  At first he wondered if Palin could be V.P. with a special needs baby and a soon to be teenage mom in the family.  He then changed his tune and lowered the temperature on his Palin observations.
       This is just a guess, but bet the word has gone out in democratic circles to ignore the Tina Fay look-a-like and we'll get a chance to test the theory after the Joe Biden visit here on Monday.  At a stop over the weekend in another state, he mentioned her name only once.  And during his comments in St. Clair Shores, he rattled on about his "personal friend" John McCain who "was out of touch."  Palin was not the focal point of the attacks.
       So give the McCain folks credit.  They had Obama team off message and on defense and each day the democrats were hitting Palin was one less day that they talked about the economy, the need for change, etc. etc. etc.
       Watch for that to change, starting right now and right here in Michigan.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No Energy

        Whether you like Jennifer Granholm or not, and the polls suggest not is ahead, you can never criticize her for a lack of energy. She's up before the birdies and she's hitting the sack still sending out cryptic emails to whoever is awake at that ungodly hour.
        But she heads off the Japan this week with no energy.  Or better put, no energy package.  Ironically the governor will pitch firms in the land of the rising sun, urging them to relocate in Michigan because we are the land of the rising alternative energy biz.
       How embarrassed she will be when one of the new energy guys asked her about Michigan's leadership in this realm.  She'll have to tell the truth and sugar coated it the best she can:  Well, you see it is like this.  I introduced an energy plan last January and well, ah, the state legislature is working hard, but well, ah, has not, (and now she uses her Granholm whisper) they have not passed it yet.
       Recall that the governor wanted this in place last March 31st, the first deadline that was missed.  There were others.
       Lawmakers can't agree on whether we need 10% of our energy from alternative sources or something higher.  At one point the Granholm administration argued 10% was not negotiable cause it was too low.  Now with time running out and other states boasting that they have a plan while Michigan monkeys around, she'll take ten.
       Maybe while she is gone, lawmakers may find a solution in time to land some jobs.
       At least that is the optimism she takes with her which is second only to the energy she takes with her as well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Skunk at Gov's Picnic

         Governor Granholm was having a grand ole time waxing on about how she was going to help Joe Biden beat Sarah Palen in their October Vice Presidential debate.  And she went on and on about her 6 foreign trade missions netting 9,000 jobs and $826 million in investments for the state.
         And then a skunk showed up at the news conference.
         Governor do you believe the state police should reopen their probe into the alleged party at the Manoogian Mansion?
         It's ironic because moments before the news conference, media secretary Liz Boyd popped out to say hi to the assembled reporters wanting to know if there were any surprise questions for her boss.
         Well there is was.A 0 The story that refuses to go away but the governor deftly pushed it aside apparently wanting no part of this aspect of the Kwame Kilpatarick story.
         That's up to the professionals at the Michigan State Police she went into a defensive mode.  She noted that everyone wants to turn the page on the mess in Motown, but when asked if that was possible with this party stuff hanging around, she would not bite.
         But she did bang on the table just a bit to inform everyone that as a former prosecutor she "will not interfere with a criminal investigation."
         Now could we have more questions on Sarah Palin, she must have been thinking.
         The questions were relevant because House Democrats, members of her party, are divided on whether the Speaker Andy Dillon should ask the state cops to beef up the probe.
         Some want to review the role of Republican Attorney General Mike Cox who declared the party an "urban legend."
         But the second in command in the democratic caucus does not want to launch a "fishing expedition."  Rep. Steve Tobocman of Detroit wants to see a "smoking gun" before the state spends investigative resources on that.  He does not see one now.
         The House GOP Leader Rep. Craig DeRoche dismisses all this as a "cheap political trick" by the D's to divert attention from all the state tax dollars they sent to the soon to be ex-Mayor of Detroit.
         As for the governor?  She's off to Japan where supposedly she won't run into any more skunks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Granholm To Play Palin

            The democrats are rushing in oxygen masks for Barack Obama and Joe Biden because since Sarah Palin  arrived on the scene she has sucked all the air out of the campaign for herself.  You know how selfish all those folks in Alaska can be.
             And with her dominating the news agenda, all of a sudden her sit down V.P. debate on October 2 with Mr. Biden has taken on even greater relevance, as democrats are worried about how Biden will do.
             Riding in on her white horse is  Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm who has volunteered to play Palin as Biden does his debate prep.  Biden told the Chicago Sun Times this week "we'll see" if he takes Granholm up on her offer.
             He should and after his newspaper comments, he decided he would and will take four days of rehearsal to do it.
             Granholm can play the role of attack dog even though it does not appear to be part of her DNA.  Baloney.  Ask Jim Blanchard and David Bonior.
              Six years ago in Marquette, Granholm and the two guys met for a contentious primary debate on Michigan Public TV. The circumstances were amazingly similar to what Palin faces today.
              Back then the pundits wondered if Granholm was ready for prime time.  The popular wisdom going was the two men would push her around.  Oh they pushed all right, but she pushed back.
              And to make matters worse, Blanchard and Bonior were blamed for attacking a woman.  Oh my.  They did not anticipate that and Granholm emerged from the TV studio with a new "can do" image which changed the direction of the campaign.
              Palin, to some, is a lightweight with a resume as thin as the Lion's front line but Biden would be advised not to take the pit bull hockey mom with lipstick for granted.
              He exuded confidence the other night reassuring everyone that he knows how to handle this debate.  After all it's not like he didn't debate a woman this past year.
              What was her name?  Hillary something or other?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Such A Deal

        If some kind soul offered you a chance to save six cents on every dollar you spend on gas, you'd jump at it.
           But would you be so eager if that meant your sales tax would go from six to seven cents on the dollar?
           Here's a heads-up.  Nobody has endorsed this yet, but this tax switch could turn out to be a major recommendation to raise bucks for our lousy road system.
           Here's how it would work.  If you pay $60 to fill up your gas-guzzler, you get an automatic $3.60 savings every time you do.  Removing the sales tax from gasoline is the easy part.
          To make up for the=2 0lost revenue, there would be a statewide vote to hike the sales tax by a penny.  That would produce about a billion bucks with part of that going to schools and cities because they now get money from the sales tax on fuel.
          One of the guys talking about this is Senator Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac).  He's told special interests that want to feed the road-building beast, that getting voter approval will not be easy.
          But to make it easier, the vote would come during a special election when fewer voters show up thus boosting the chances for passage. Put it on the general election ballot with more voters and the chances go down.
          Generally most folks don't even notice the sales tax and promoters of this idea figure a penny increase will not spawn a tax revolt.  However on big-ticket items such as cars and boats, on a $30,000 purchase, your sales tax would go up three hundred smackers.  But hey nobody is buying cars and boats anymore, so who cares?
          Lawmakers would have to vote to place it on the ballot, but rest assured that if that happens, it won't come until after everyone is safely reelected in November.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Up Close and Personal

    There are not many folks who can say this:  I ran against Barack Obama.  To the list that includes a Clinton, a Dodd, an Edwards and a Biden, you can add the Oakland County name of Nancy Skinner.
     When Skinner lived in Illinois, she ran for the U.S. Senate but did not even come close to defeating a new guy named Barack Obama but in the process she got close to him and shares some insights on the man and the candidate for president.
     During one debate among the seven candidates, Obama was asked why he opposed the war in Iraq?  As Skinner sat there she knew she was the only other candidate to have the same position and much to her shock, Obama gave her credit for that in his answer.
     "He didn't have to do that," she reflects on the Off the Record broadcast this past weekend.
      So was he different back then?
      Oh yeah, she recalls.  He was more substance than style.  In other words he did not have his charisma mojo going, but she says now and there's been a "flip-flop" on that front as she laughs.
      As a female candidate herself who almost beat Joe Knollenberg for congress two years ago, Skinner offers this on John McCain's running mate.
      Sarah Palin supporters are mighty vocal about the alleged double standard and sexist questions about being a mom and V.P.  Skinner says she doesn't see that but she says she did see "Dan Quayle in a skirt" when Palin was first introduced.
      Than after her red meat speech attacking Obama at the GOP convention, Skinner say s Palin is now "Tonya Harding with a microphone." The adorable Ms. Harding was the skater who whacked an opponent after a match years ago.
      Skinner is now an official Obama surrogate on the stump and reveals one more tidbit:  "He never called me sweetie."
      You can view the entire Skinner performance by going to and look for the Off the Record icon.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lost Her Voice

     Is there something wrong with Sarah Palin's voice?
     Every time she gives a speech it seems O.K. but every time some news organization requests an interview with the GOP Vice Presidential candidate, something happens to her voice.
      That something is, her handlers have told her to keep her mouth shut.
       As incredible as it may seem, she has been the V.P. choice for well over a week and has yet to grant a legitimate interview to any legitimate news outfit. 
       Wonder what's going on?
       You might be quick to conclude she is not ready for prime time and her aforementioned handlers are scared to death that s he can't handle herself with a barrage of questions that so far have gone painfully unanswered.
       But that could not possibly be the reason because those same operatives have told us that Ms. Palin has more experience than Barack Obama and Joe Biden combined.  That she is a proven maverick with a buffo resume running a town and a state. And besides "seasoned political veterans" are not afraid of talking to the media even though the questions may be uncomfortable. 
       Even former V.P. candidate Dan Quayle, the son of a newspaper guy, understood that he had to take questions. Despite all those nasty inquiries about his National Guard service, Danny Boy never ducked. 
       Which brings us back to why won't Ms. Palin take questions. With a degree in journalism she understands it is part of the game.
       Perhaps she has to go moos e hunting?  Or read some books at her local library to determine which ones just be tossed out?
       Or maybe she just has to devote more time to her family and can't fit reporters into her tough schedule.
       Let's go with that excuse since no reporter can ask he why she has her voice sometimes, but not at others.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Obama Late To The Party

    Profiles in courage it was not.  Smart politics it was.
    Two weeks ago when it would have been politically risky for Barack Obama to call for Kwame Kilpatrick to resign, the democratic candidate for president thought about it and apparently concluded there were too many mine fields that could blow up in his face.
     In fact when the story ran that the Obama campaign was weighing such a move, a local spokesperson said the story was wrong.
     Well, guess what?
     Obama did call for Kwame Kilpatrick to "step" aside, but this time there was virtually no political risk as the declaration came within hours of Kilpatrick doing just that.
     So why thrust the democratic nominee into this mess either way?
     First it underscores the concern in the Obama camp that the Mayor's "problems" could indirectly impact the outcome of the November vote.
     Two weeks ago, the mess had not reached critical mass and calling for a resignation then could have hacked off some Detroit voters who still supported Kilpatrick.
     Now with only 27% of Detroiters on the mayor's side, Obama can safely jump on the resignation bandwagon with little fear of damaging his support in Motown.
     Plus, Obama wants to reassure suburban voters in the donut around Detroit that he never condoned nor was he connected to what the mayor did.
     Recall that republicans were probably going to run TV commercials showing the mayor and Obama together, hoping the guilt by association would rub off on Obama.
     So in a straightforward political move, Obama now calls for the mayor to resign, the mayor resigns, and Obama has erased a potential problem.  At least until the republicans criticize him for waiting so long to do it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

R U Watching?

        Well, there it is:  History unfolding right before your very eyes or in some cases ears.  But are you glued to the proceedings involving the governor and the possible removal of the Mayor of Detroit?
        Can tell ya this, lots of reporters are watching from the New York Times to Inside Edition, which is a pulp and celebrity news program that caters to the lowest common denominator.
         It was a sight to see the governor, who decided against wearing a quasi-judicial black robe for her quasi-judicial role, sitting at the head of the room as she acts as judge and jury over the future of Kwame Kilpatrick.
C2        Last May had you asked if this would ever happen, the vast majority of the know-it-alls in this town would have shouted, "No how.  No Way."  And back then they knew it all.  She wanted no part of these doings.
         But then in late summer came the alleged shoving match involving Mr. Kilpatrick and two officers of the court.  Like a light switch flicking to the up position, the governor changed her position and accelerated the hearings, which brings us to right now.
        This is truly legacy time for the governor.  Whatever she decides will be chapter one in the book which chronicles her tenure in office.  Plagued and picked at for not being forceful in making tough decisions, if she removes the mayor, she'll take the edge off that knock.
        And the know-it-alls around these p arts, believe she will do just that…unless the mayor beats her to the punch with a legacy stopping resignation.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Judge Jenny

Judge Jenny
      Move over Judge Judy.  You've got company.
      Barring an 11th hour stay of the proceedings by one of the state's appellate courts, Gov. Jennifer Granholm will remove her title as governor and step into the historic role as judge and jury concerning the future of the Mayor of Detroit.
       A Wayne County Circuit court judge cleared the way for the televised session  to begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday after the mayor's lawyers failed to convince the judge that the governor was biased and was acting under a state law that was vague.
       Up until now correspondents could only guess at what the governor has been up to since May 20th when the Detroit City Council asked her to sta ge the hearing and bounce Kwame Kilpatrick.  Turns out she was very busy.
       In an affidavit filed with the court on Tuesday the governor reveals for the first time that she was actively involved in so called ex parte communications with third parties in an attempt to end the Kilpatrick controversy.  She reveals she did that with the verbal permission of the Mayor's team and at the Mayor's request.
       Debunking earlier media reports that she also conferred with the U.S. Attorneys office, Granholm told the court," I have never had a conversation with any third party about the merits of the City Council petition or about the merits of the criminal charges against the Mayor."
       The real intent of the filing however was to buttress her argument that she was not prejudice toward the mayor which his attorneys alleged in court.
        Du ring a private meeting with the Mayor's team the governor contends she explained she had "formed no opinion" on the case. 
        So pull up a chair cause, here comes the judge unless a mayoral resignation makes the hearing moot.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Rookie Mistake Or Not?

    If the Mayor of Detroit has resigned by the time you get around to reading this, you can just use this blog to wrap up the dead fish you caught up North over the weekend.
    Can ya wrap a fish in a blog?
    Regardless, when the story broke last week that governor Granholm wanted Kwame Kilpatrick to resign regardless of the evidence in his felony case, tongues were wagging.
    If that indeed was true, why would this savvy attorney/governor utter such a seemingly prejudicial thing if she wanted to project an image of impartiality?
    As a result of that utterance, the mayor's defenders have asked a judge to not only scrub the governor's slated removal hearing but also declare her ineligible to render a fair verdict in the case.  The gov's legal eagles dismiss the allegation as "laughable."  
    Nonetheless, the observers wonder how could such a smart person make such a rookie mistake?
     Here's the likely explanation: On May 27th when the meeting took place with the mayor's lawyers, the governor had not yet assumed her self-described quasi-judicial role.  In fact, sitting as judge and jury over the embattled mayor was not even on the governor's agenda.  She wanted nothing to do with it and even though the Detroit City Council had asked her to remove his honor, she was going to move with all the deliberate speed of a receding glacier.
    Way back then she merely wanted this flap put to rest.  It was not until much later in the summer that the governor changed her tune after the alleged shoving incident on the Mayor's sister's porch.
   It was after that incident that Granholm accelerated the hearing schedule and adopted the quasi-judicial mantle which she still wears today.
   A judge this week will decide if she can wear it into the removal hearing with the mayor's future hanging in the balance.