Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Farm Turf War
As long as everybody stays in their own lane, life in this town can be tranquil. But alas when somebody wanders onto someone else's hallowed ground, you get a turf war. And we've got a dandy one unfolding right now. In this corner, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and in that one the state's farming community led by the Michigan Farm Bureau. Seems she wants the power to pick the director of the state Agriculture department and the other guys want the status quo which allows the Agriculture commission to do that. Granholm has at least one supporter, former Gov. Bill Milliken. Back in the 70's when his administration was up to its eyeballs in the PBB controversy, cattle eating feed laced with that chemcial and then humans eating that meat, Milliken locked horns with B. Dale Ball. Ball was annointed by the ag commission. Milliken wanted to fire him but couldn't. Milliken lost. This governor is not in the middle of any such controversy but she's created another one by encroaching on Farm Bureau turf and the farmers are winning. Ms. Granholm figures, as did other governors before her, that it makes sense to give the chief executive the authority over appointments so that the buck stops at the governor's desk. One could argue that indirectly she has that power now in that she appoints the commission. So if she wanted person "X" to run the department, she calls her appointees and tells them what to do. But governors tend to favor direct power over indirect but the state senate last week, undid what the governor hopes to do. Now the game comes down to democrats in the House. Will they side with their governor or the farmers? Since she may lose this battle, the governor's folks are making noises about finding a compromise to end this little turf scrimmage, and it is simple, she picks the director with the advice and consent of the board.