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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.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mr. Biz Vs. Mr. Gov't

       Here we go again with another Mr. Business vs. Mr. Government a.k.a. the Detroit Mayoral contest.
       Dave Bing brings a wealth of biz acumen coupled with his sharp elbows honed after years in the NBA.  Ken Cockrel Jr. grew up in a government home although his daddy was a tad on the anti-government/radical side, but nonetheless, Cockrel's background could not be more different that his opponent's.
       We've been here before.  One need only recall the effort of Dick DeVos, the West Michigan entrepreneur/soap salesman who ran against Ms. Government-Jennifer Granholm. And back even further it was insurance executive Dick Headlee taking on government student Jim Blanchard.  Both Dicks lost.
       Those who support the concept that government should be run like a business make an appealing argument, until you peel it back. 
      The major rub is this:  When you run a company, you have the final word.  Sure you may listen to others, including your workers, but when the rubber hits the road, the CEO calls all the shots.
      It ain't always that way in government.
      Ask Jennifer Granholm. She  has 148 mini-governors to contend with in the legislature and she must please at least 56 of them in the house and 20 in the senate to do anything.  It is not easy.
       On a smaller level, the Detroit Mayor has to contend with a city council and the current one is a horror story in and of itself. There are the unions that represent all the workers and lets not forget the voters who have the ultimate veto power.
       Now you're going to say a CEO has a board of directors to please but as long as that leader is making money, nobody on the board cares how he or she does it.  Think Enron.
      Voters and the media do care and so the government leader has to make a whole lot of people happy compared to his business counterpart who has the option to move unilaterally.
       Mr. Business vs. Mr. Government. Which background counts more?  We'll find out in May.


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