Years ago when lawmakers actually had what they called "experience," a special interest group would never lecture a veteran lawmaker. It just wasn't done.
Ah, but put a lawmaker with three years under his belt in the room with seasoned labor leaders, and lecturing is not so far-fetched — especially if that legislator is embarking on something labor does not like.
Say hello to Oakland County Rep. Tim Melton (D-Pontiac), who was on the receiving end of just such a history lesson.
Seems Mr. Melton is on a mission to save failing schools…a truly commendable assignment but not if it steps on labor's toes, which is why Melton was compared to Debbie Stabenow.
Years ago, when U.S. Senator Stabenow was only a state senator, she offered an amendment to abolish the property tax as the main source of funding state schools.
Never in her wildest dreams did she think the Republicans would grab it, run with it, and pass it into law, and take credit for the state's most historic school "reform" affectionately known as Proposal A.
Hapless Democrats got none of the credit, and, to make matters even worse, Democrat Stabenow's move resulted in four more years of GOP Gov. John Engler and it also meant the end of six and seven percent wage increases for Michigan teachers. Organized labor was not amused.
Fast forward to the Melton bill. He would create an education czar with the power to abolish labor contracts, fire teachers, and to flush the collective bargaining system into the crapper. Not sure if this phrase was used, but some labor guy might have said, "You don't want to pull a Stabenow, do you?"
Melton was told that he would need lots of House GOP votes to pass his bill because many Democrats would not vote yes. And after it passed the House, the Senate Republicans would put their stamp on it, and Melton's mission would be hijacked by the other party.
Labor thought a repeat of history was not such a hot idea.
Now we have to see if Mr. Staben---ere…Mr. Melton learned his lesson.