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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, May 31, 2009

Mackinac Inside Stories

        Here are some of the inside stories you never heard  coming out of the business conference on Mackinac Island last week.
        Local 4 anchor guy Devin Scillian was in deep-do-do.  He needed to record his "Flashpoint" program on the porch of the Grand Hotel.  Mayor Dave Bing agreed to do it at 10:30, but 10:30 came and went and no Bing.  Scillian ran into Bill Ford, Jr. and explained his predicament, but Ford's schedule was packed.
         Moments later Scillian ran into Bing on his way to meet with other regional leaders, but instead of going there, Bing diverted to the porch first. And soon after that, Mr. Ford showed up and said he could do the show, too.
         Neither Bing nor Ford was obligated to do what they did. But the fact that they helped was an act of understandin g and kindness rarely seen in this biz.  High marks to both gentlemen.
         A certain senior capitol correspondent was anchoring a forum involving six members of the Michigan Congressional delegation.  He was introduced to the audience and as he walked to the front of the room the audience sat on its hands.
         "Thank you for that warm ovation," the reporter joked and of course, everyone got off their hands and got them together.
          "No. No.  That doesn't count," the reporter lectured the group.  At which point Michigan's junior U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow said, "I applauded for you at the beginning."
            Which drew this response, "Senator you are not up for reelection for another need to suck up now."  Everyone, including Stabenow, laughed.
             In that same forum the issue of shipping Gitmo terrorists to a U.P. vacant state prison was discussed. But instead of going directly to U.P. Congressman Bart Stupak, the reporter when to other legislators first.
            Someone at Stupak's table whispered, "How come he's not coming to you? The prison is in your district."
            The congressman responded, "He's setting me up."
             And indeed that's exactly what the reporter was doing. After all the other congresspersons said they opposed the scheme, Stupak was finally interviewed to explain why he did.  The hidden agenda was, would Stupak fudge his support in light of all the opposition?  He stuck to h is guns.
             Reporter and "victim" shared a hardly laugh over the "set-up" that didn't work.
             More reflections on the Mackinac gig tomorrow.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cherry No Show

A full 14 months before Michigan voters get into the act to
pick the GOP and Democratic candidates for governor, some of the
major candidates will face off for the first time this week.
Attorney General Mike Cox let the world know this week that he
is running.
GOP Congressman Pete Hoekstra did the same thing months ago
and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land announced her exploratory
committee this week as well.
The trio will be the headliners at a Detroit Chamber
fundraiser on Mackinac Island as they meet face to face to discuss
the issues. Joining the exchange are Sen. Tom George, a long shot
GOP candidate from Kalamazoo, and democratic Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith
who shares the same designation as George.
Of course there would have been real box office appeal had Lt.
Gov. John Cherry decided to join the group, but he declined and took
at shot at the Regional Chamber of Commerce in so doing.
Seems Mr. Cherry is not comfortable with the chamber charging
folks to see the debate for $175 in advance and $200 at the door.
"There's something wrong about a symbolism to watch a
political debate (and) have to pay to see that. To me that's just
the wrong message that you send at this time," Cherry tells capitol
correspondents. He says the public should be invited at no charge.
Apparently the chamber wanted no part of that.
Cherry meanwhile doesn't need the debate to draw attention to
himself. Starting next month he will launch a summer hearing tour
around the state to take testimony on what form state government
should take.
The half-dozen or so sessions will give Cherry a chance to
listen to the people and he may pick up a headline or two along the
way to help in his bid for governor. But he deflects any GOP
criticism that the summer tour is just a thinly disguised attempt to
promote his candidacy.
In fact Cherry says there is no guarantee that the tour is
"some magical path to any kind of political success." And he adds
since it could also be controversial, it could actually "provide
barriers" to higher office.
Oh boy…the R's will have a field day with that.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sneaky Engler

John Engler to the rescue. With the current democratic
governor facing a whooping billion dollar plus budget crunch, there
was good ole Johnny Boy with a two-fer.
First, he had a way for Jennifer Granholm to raise a billion
smackers and then he was helping his new buddy, Barack Obama, deal
with a challenge of his own, i.e. what to do with all those soon to
be former detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Engler's idea was to ship all those terrorist crooks to
Michigan's Upper Peninsula where they could be housed forever.
Whata guy. Whata guy.
Wait a gall darn minute!
Conservative Republican John Engler doing something to help two
Democrats in dire straits?
Having covered Big John for twenty-seven some years, this was
totally out of character. He never met a Democrat he didn't want to
abuse and so for him to come waltzing in on his white horse to help
the White House and the Governor in the State House…well that was
just too much to swallow.
Knowing him, there must have been a hidden agenda.
No one can prove it, but slip this on for size.
Ever since the Republican lost the Upper Peninsula
Congressional seat, Engler and company have wanted to un-trench the
currently entrenched Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak. Short of
getting him to do something illegal on the U.S, Capitol steps, R's
have failed miserably at ousting the popular Mr. S.
Enter Mr. E. with his Gitmo scheme. Engler reads the papers. He
knows that every congressman and woman in Washington is deftly afraid
that the president is going to ship some or all of the Gitmo gang
into their state.
In fact, when the new president asked the Congress for the money
to shut the prison down, even the Democrats balked at it, sending Mr.
Obama his first and real bi-partisan rebuke.
Give us a plan on how to house the prisoners and then we will
talk, was the message to the new guy on the block.
Engler has a plan. Ship 'em all to the U.P. and then let ole
Bart Stupak try to get reelected next year.
Yeah that's the conniving, bomb-throwing, sneaky Engler we know
so well.
Helping Granholm and Obama? My foot!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Justice Granholm: Not Now

   For all those democrats hoping to find a one-way ticket out of town for Jennifer Granholm, its  back to the drawing board.  Justice Jennifer Granholm will not be.  Gov. Jennifer Granholm remains in town, much to the chagrin of some of Lt. Gov. John Cherry's most avid supporters.
     Had the governor gone to the nation's highest court, Cherry would have become governor and could run in 2010 as the incumbent.  But it was not to be…at least for now.
     Given a chance to check in on how he felt about the President's decision to pick someone else, Cherry noted, "It was an honor for the governor to be considered" but beyond that he did not venture into the political ramifications of Granholm sticking around.  No shocker there.
      As for Gov. Granholm, it may be sometime before we uncover how she really felt about this speculation.  She is not one to readily disclose her inner most feelings, but she must have been pleased to be considered.  Had she been selected, it would have been a monster story around these parts.
     But now it goes down in the history books as another "close but no cigar" moment for this charismatic governor.  Turned down for a cabinet post by the new president, you can add this one to the list as well, but there is always tomorrow.
     The fact that she even made the short list was a surprise from this listening post. But many of the national commentators picked her for the vacancy which spoke well to her standing with the heavy media hitters in D.C.
      There was no time for reflection as the governor spent the day wandering around Detroit with the Obama administration's auto state recovery czar.  With the high court distraction out of the way, she remains even more focused on the job at hand…getting more jobs into the hands of jobless citizens. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Political Back Scratching

    Years ago a special interest group could stage a fundraiser and it was under no obligation to provide any hats and horns to get folks to attend.  Everyone dutifully showed up.
     Those days are long gone, as Ernie would say.  Now if you want citizens to write a check, they want some pop, and not the kind you drink.
     Take the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.  It is charging $175, and $200 at the door, for business leaders to see the Great Debate for Governor set for Thursday night on Mackinac Island.
     It's the first chance to see Republican contenders Mike Cox, Terri Lynn Land, Pete Hoekstra, and Tom George go at it.  Democratic candidate Alma Wheeler Smith will also be there, but the odds-on favorite to win the democratic nomination, Lt. Gov. John Cherry, will find something else to do that night.< /o:p>
      He sees little reason to attend an event designed to raise money for the chamber which will likely turnaround and spend the cash on Cherry's opponents. No dummy, he.
      Or take the "Friends of West Michigan Business" which is hosting a Political Action Committee shindig featuring, not one, not two, but twenty-five lawmakers who chair legislative committees that handle business issues.
      It's a first and probably not a last, if it works.
      Thirteen GOP leaders and twelve democrats are slated to work the room if you cough up 40 smackers for the Main Event or $75 for the VIP Reception.
       It's likely that those legislators will see a return on their time investment next year when the West Michigan chamber writes them a reelection check in a beautiful example of political bac k scratching to the nth degree.
       Creative thinking is alive and well on the fundraising circuit. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Brewer: Here We Go Again

   It made such a tremendous impact on everyone in the last contest for the State Supreme Court that no one has forgotten the "Sleeping Judge" TV commercial that sent former Chief Justice Cliff Talyor to the showers.
   Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer was taking another victory lap the other night as the Michigan Association for Justice, which is just a fancy-smancy name for the trial lawyers, gave him an award.
   Brewer humbly accepted it "on behalf of everyone who believed we could defeat Cliff Taylor and the thousands who worked to make it happen."  Cue the applause.
   But that was then and now is now and Taylor is rallying the troops to reprise the Taylor upset. He's plopped a bulls eye on the back of the next GOP justice who is running next year, one Mr. Robert Young who, according to the party chair, favors "corporations and insurance companies over and over again…"
   Taylor is launching a contest asking party folks to "tell us their worst story about Bob Young and also guess how many times he has fallen asleep on the bench…"
    Actually this is how Brewer discovered the allegation that Taylor nodded off.  Brewer was interviewing two plaintiffs that appeared before the judge and during the exchange, on videotape, they said they saw Taylor sleeping.  The rest, as they say, is history.
    Brewer is back hoping that somebody out there, somewhere, saw Young doing something that can be converted into another attack ad.
    Maybe someone saw Young toss some paper on the ground, or saw him going 80 in a 25 mph zone, or smoking in a non-smoking section, or, or the list of possibilities is endless.
     Brewer did not indicate if any of this stuff had to be tru e, but than that never stopped him before, his critics would say.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where's Mr. Bing?

       Folks around these parts are starting to notice…both R's and D's are asking, "Where's the new Mayor of Detroit?"
       So far he's been a no-show at the state capitol.  Lawmakers notice that sort of stuff.  They're funny that way.
       Some also recall that former Mayor Ken Cockrel made it a point to visit state lawmakers shortly after he inherited the job from the former mayor…what was his name?
       Dave Bing was elected on May 5th and has actually only been in office for nine days, and his supporters would probably say, "Give the guy a break."
       Yeah, but.
       The new mayor needs help from the legislature.  Detroit's revenue sharing has been sliced; there's the Cobo Hall/auto show rhubarb going on, and for the most part, Mr. Bing is an unknown entity.
       Sure, the Detroit legislative delegation knows him, and the senate GOP leader Mike Bishop says he has talked with Mr.Bing in the past but there are other players he should probably meet.
       One member of the Detroit contingency has made four overtures to get his honor up here.  None of the overtures have gotten a response.
        Deliberate snub?
        Lack of knowledge on how to play the political game?
=0 A
        No one can confirm what the reason is, but official Lansing has noticed and the clock is ticking.
        Now the mayor will have a chance to rub elbows next week with lawmakers on Mackinac Island at the Detroit Chamber gig and perhaps no damage has been done by his lack of attention to date.
        But ya never know.  Political egos demand attention and when someone doesn't give it, it's hard to predict the consequences.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A history lesson for Rep. Melton

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.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Granholm Has A Record

      Those promoting Gov. Jennifer Granholm for the U.S. Supreme court suggest she has a leg up on those with a judicial record because she does have one of her own. That makes it tougher for opponents to find something to criticize.
     That may be true but boy oh boy does she have a political record that will set tongues wagging on both the right and the left.
    10 Commandments.  She flip-flopped on showcasing the 10 Commandments in the State Capitol.  First she was for it.  But when word got to the ACLU that she was, within two days, her office "clarified" saying, when she said that she was speaking, not as a governor, but as a private citizen.
     If that was the case, why didn't she say that in the first place?
     Gay rights. The governor is for them and has hired any number of gay persons on her staff but she opposes gay marriage while supporting gay unions.
     Guns.  She made no friends with the powerful National Rifle Association when she staunchly opposed the expansion of Michigan's concealed weapons law.  She predicted a Wild Wild West scenario but had to recant and admit she was wrong when shootings did not increase.
    Medical marijuana.  As a former prosecutor she opposed the ballot proposal which has become a cause celebre for the liberal left.
    Affirmative action. She led the charge with a variety of civil rights groups to preserve it on our college campuses.  She lost as the vast majority of voters said yes to the ban.
   Abortion.  Other candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court have skirted a direct answer because "the case may come before me down the road."  This would-be candidate can't say that as she is clearly for the woman's right to chose but opposes abortion herself.
   That stance has gotten her into Dutch with her own Catholic Church. 
   Empathy.  Mr. Obama says he is looking for that in his choice.  That is Ms. Granholm's middle name and conservatives can hardly wait to blast her for that, if she gets this long-shot nomination.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Save The Troopers

    It is looking more and more as if the 104 state troopers slated for the unemployment line will not end up there.
    Lawmakers two weeks ago asked the Michigan State Troopers Association to take time off without pay to save the jobs.  That is now on hold in favor of Plan B.
    That involves using Obama bucks to save the jobs.
    Here's the inside skinny on what's coming down.
    Look for a move this week to call on the Granholm administration to rewrite its request for federal money from the so-called COPS program.
    At first, the governor's office feared that it could not do that.  But the trooper union produced the federal administrator who wrote the program and he reassured everyone, it could be done.
    So here's the plan: Resubmit the request redirecting some of the federal dollars for the 104 state troopers; speed up the release of the funds from September first to June 28th just in time to avert the July first lay off date and when the jobs are saved the White House will get a ton of positive publicity.
    You can see the headlines now:  Obama Bucks Saves 100 Trooper Jobs.  Film at eleven.
    It's the proverbial win-win-win for the troopers, for the state and for the president.
    Anticipating more trooper=0 Alay offs next year, you should also look for pressure on the governor to sign a repeal of the mandatory motorcycle helmet law, which she has opposed since day one.
    Under the plan, the state would raise $15 million from bikers who would have to pay the state to remove their brain buckets.  The money could go to the troopers, if the governor can be convinced to sign the bill.
     As one source put it, without the money there won't be the cops to police the helmet law in the first place.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Not Many Silver Linings

       You will need a magnifying glass to find a silver lining in the most recent batch of bad news surrounding the on-the-ropes domestic auto industry.
        The state's top bean counters summoned the experts in the field to give some sense of what happens in Michigan if Chrysler and GM are in bankruptcy at the same time.
        You did not need a PhD to know this will be ugly.
        The good news is Chrysler could be out of the courts before sixty days has elapsed.  An economist for the Center on Automotive Research down in A2 reports, "The judge is doing everything we would hope he would do" to right size the smallest of the Detroit Three.
        GM will be another story.
        Sean McAlinden says there is a "99%" chance the former auto giant ends up in bankruptcy and "there is a 50% chance it will stay immersed there for more than sixty days."
        And if it does, McAlinden forecasts more bad news for the state budget i.e. a loss of more revenue to pay for the already battered state services.
       A GM bankruptcy is "far more complex" he tells FOX2 Detroit.  You have a ton more bondholders to appease, foreign plants to figure into the mix and if the whole shebang goes beyond 90 days, it spells trouble with a capitol T.
       With GM already shedding dealerships around the state and more plant closings on the horizon, state government will have more than its projected $1.7 billion shortfall in tax monies to contend with.
       That means more service cuts…unless somebody wants to raise taxes and no "somebody's" have said that yet.
       On the plus side, McAlinden sees a comparatively robust Ford Motors growing even more and in two years, he predicts GM and Chrysler, mere shadows of their former selves, will still be in the game.
       You are welcome to believe that, but do so at your own risk.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dodging Debbie

     U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow has flirted with running for governor and actually tried it 1994.  But before she made her decision, she was real cagey about showing her cards.
     One recalls a poignant interview when she was hemming and hawing about whether she would or would not, and then she was hit between the eyes with this inquiry, "In your heart, are you running?"
     She took it like a right cross to the chops. She knew the answer was yes, but she was not about to give the reporter a scoop.
     Fast forward to right now.  Some how or other Stabenow's name was showing up on the list of potentials for 2010.  Finally tracked her down the other day to get to the bottom of this.
     "Are you running for governor?"
     No hems, no haws, no dodging, no weaving.
     "I will not run for governor," she blurted out.
     She is no dummy.  She's got a job for life in the U.S. Senate.
     Plus she says Michigan needs her "right where I am" and it would be a "disservice to step away."
     She sits on the major committees which deal with Michigan challenges such as energy, advanced manufacturing and health care and in some cases she reveals, "I'm the only manufacturing voice on the committee."
     But the nagging question remains, if she was not interested, why would somebody put her name in the mix?
     Probably has to do with the fact that some democrats are squeamish about Lt. Gov. John Cherry getting the party nomination for fear he could lose because he's been so closely associated with Gov. Granholm.
     Stabenow was asked to respond to that and she quickly reverted to her old ways, "I'm not saying that" as she walked away into the sunset.
     Well one straight answer and one not so straight.  In baseball .500 is pretty good.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Get Out Of Jail Free

     Folks in town got an interesting letter the other day from the local sheriff.  He had his hand out asking for money.
      The Ingham County Sheriff, a likable chap, was soliciting money for the Michigan Sheriff's Association to address "the ravaging effects of violence, theft, predators, drug abuse, and many other deadly types of crime."
      Can't figure out why he left out rape, Taliban attacks, and plundering and pillaging?   If you're tying to scare the begeezus out of the citizens, why not go all the way?
      Sheriff Gene Wrigglesworth, and supposedly all the other sheriffs who sent out the same correspondence, is trying to pick up the slack in the wake of state budget cuts to local units of government.
      When the governor and friends whacked a whopping $41 million out of state revenue sharing last week, the locals protested it would mean less public safety protection.
      Mr. Wrigglesworth says if you cough up 500 big ones, you can become, presto-change-o, an honorary sheriff.  You also get an I.D. card, discounts on your insurance, special training opportunities, whatever that is, and two decals.
      Ah, yes those handy-dandy decals that go on the windshield of your car.
     For sure no one has even proven this, but there's always been the suspicion that buying one of the decals is like owning a Get Out Of Jail Free card.  When your nasty sheriff or other local cop pulls you over and sees the decal, they just might turn friendly and let you go.
      There is no guarantee, but if you have a lead-foot, investing in a decal for $2.50 apiece could be like Mom's chic ken soap:  It can't hurt and it just might help.
      And if you pop for the $500, you get a $100 gift certificate to purchase a sheriff's styled duty cap, a lapel pin and an association front license plate.  You want to make sure the sheriff knows you are on his or her side.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hackel No On Gov Bid?

     One sheriff down and one more to go.
     Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel is making noises that running for governor maybe ain't such a hot idea after all.  Apparently in addition to his law enforcement chores, he is also a math major and the numbers don't add up on the democratic ledger.
     Sure he is from vote rich Macomb County and anybody running for governor would love to have that as a base, and sure he has great name ID and voters like him, but his chances of wrestling the nomination from Lt. Gov. John Cherry are slim and none.
     While Hackel has spent the last six months thinking about running, the aforementioned Mr. Cherry has actually been running and rather successfully as he methodically puts his machine together.
     You could almost sense last December when the first "Hackel May Run For Gov" story popped up that it was not going to happen.
     Shortly after that he was invited and accepted an invite to do the "Off the Record" public TV series.  The agreement was sealed in one phone call as he readily said yes, but a funny thing happened on the way to the taping.
     Wasn't there, but betya by golly he convened his inner circle and somebody in there said something like, "Maybe we ought to wait a little bit." 
     The week of the show, Hackel called and backed out.  He was worried about the timing being wrong and he asked for a rain check.
     Looks as though one will not be needed as he is now telling the Associated Press, "It would be a difficult thing (and) I'm leaning toward probably not doing it."
      That takes care of the Macomb County sheriff.  Now what about the one in Oakland County?  Mike Bouchard has promised a decision about running for governor by the end of the month.
      Maybe he should give Hackel a call? 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Troopers Standing Still

    Michigan's men and women in blue get paid to cruise our freeways.  Soon Michigan State troopers will be paid to sit on their behinds.
    They call them "stationary patrols."
    The state police budget is in such sad shape that in addition to laying off 100 troopers, the MSP commanders are telling the troops to park their scout cars in the median to reduce miles driven by 1 million at a savings of $600,000.
    This policy amounts to parking all the cruisers in the garage for one full month.
    Speeding motorists, rejoice.
    Convicted felons on the run, rejoice.
    Drunk drivers, rejoice.
    Road rage addicts, rejoice.
    Well you get the picture.
    The last time this "sit in your car and watch crime go by" policy was used, troopers wrote 22,800 fewer tickets, drunk driving arrested plummeted 23%, and fugitive arrests dipped by 1,200 or 17% according to the Detroit News.
     Let's see: Round up lawbreakers or save gasoline?  MSP picks the latter.  The department is doing what lawmakers ordered it to do i.e. balance your budget.
     Now it is likely the layoff notices slated for July one will be averted.
     But even if the jobs are saved, what's=2 0the difference if you have 900 troopers sitting in the median or 1000 waving at you as you lead-foot it up North at 85 miles an hour?
     Of course they will go after "high profile and 9-1-1" calls, so it won't be a total Wild West out there.
     But why stop at saving gas dollars?
     Guns and bullets cost money, so why not scrap them, too.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Close But No Cigar

    There was so much hope.  Rarely do business and organized labor agree on anything, but they were on board.  The need was clearly there, just ask any motorist.  The governor had signed off.  And the last time the mighty legislature got up enough nerve to deal with this was in 1994.  So the planets were aligning and the only ingredient missing was 56 votes in the house and 20 in the senate.
    And that's not going to happen.
    So much for raising new dollars to repair Michigan's aging and pothole pocked road and bridge system.  Nice try Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the road-building lobby.
    "This is on life support?"
    "Righ t."
    "And somebody has their hand on the plug?"
     Delivering the death knell there is Sen. Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac) who has labored hard in the vineyards for scrapping the gas tax to fix roads and going to a wholesale percentage tax on fuel oil to raise the bucks.
    Last December when he tested the waters in his senate GOP caucus he had five votes.  Now he has three including his own.  He needs those twenty votes and rest assured 17 democrats are not going to save the day for ole Jud.
    Next year the democrats have a shot at regaining control of that body and they are not about to lead the charge to raise taxes.  Period.  End of story.
    The only glimmer of hope for Gilbert is for the democratically controlled house to take the lead, and send the senate a package of new road dollars.
    "That might change the dynamics a little bit," Gilbert says with his fingers crossed.
     But the house is up for election, too next year.
     Repeat.  Period.  End of story.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Warning Shot On NAIAS

      Heads up the new Mayor of Detroit and city council.  The Senate GOP leader says the clock is ticking on keeping the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Hall.
      Oakland County Senator Mike Bishop reveals that he has ordered legislation to facilitate moving the show from Detroit to perhaps Novi.
      "There will be legislation, absolutely, being prepared as we speak, to provide an alternative location and one of those is Novi," Bishop reveals for the first time.
       If newly elected Mayor Dave Bing comes to Lansing asking for a re-do on the original Cobo deal which was rejected by the Detroit City Council, Bishop will tell him, "We already had that vote."< o:p>
       The GOP leader did not reveal the contents of the legislation but he says Detroit has very little time to take a reconsideration vote on the plan that was rejected.
     "The folks on the City Council of Detroit have to know that they've got to take advantage of the situation they're in right now.  If they don't, the state of Michigan has got to move forward."
       Bishop warns, "We're moving now." 
       Asked how much time Detroit had to take the new vote, he concludes they need to "reconsider immediately."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Capitol Is Over There

      When the newly elected Mayor of Detroit makes his eventual trek to visit state lawmakers here, Mr. Bing, the capitol is the building with the huge white dome.
     Which is to say, the former NBA star will be a new comer to the Lansing scene and that may be both a plus and a minus.
     A self-professed non-politician, Bing enters a world of professional politicians where he is basically an unknown quantity and professional pols are uncomfortable with that.
     Oh sure many in this town know that Bing has great ties to the business community and they know about his sports prowess, but that's about it.
     No one even knows if Bing has bounced into the capitol building before.  If he did he sneaked in the back door and left the same way.
     Lawmakers like to have a "comfort" level with the folks they deal with. Can the person be trusted? Does he or she have an ego that surpasses everyone else?  Do they know how to work a deal?
     Mr. Bing is smart enough to know he has to nature that comfort level but it doesn't happen over night.  You don't show up on the capitol steps and announce, "Here I am" and expect lawmakers to give you everything you want..especially if you hail from the Motor Ciy
     On one hand, having a clean slate allows Bing to start from scratch with official Lansing.  He carries none of the political baggage associated with being a part of Detroit city government.  He was not there when all the shenanigans were unfolding which is part of the reason the voters in Motown voted him in.
     On the other , there are certain ways to play the political game and as a rookie, that opens him up to make some mistakes and if those are bad enough, that can hurt him for the rest of his tenure.
    An initial test of his "understanding" of Lansing will be the length of time he waits before entering this court of play.
    Somebody will probably whisper in his ear, sooner is much better than latter.  Let's see if he listens.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Out On The Stump

Lincoln Day Reflections
      The Lincoln Day/rubber chicken circuit is in full swing for the state Republican Party.
      Newly installed GOP chair Ron Weiser was the keynote speaker at the Thursday night event in Livonia.  Only problem is nobody bothered to tell the chair that he had the assignment.  He was prepared to do a short "Hi how are you and we need to win in 2010" message and then sit down.
      Instead, after being told he had to do more, he rambled on for about twenty minutes while the audience sat there waiting and waiting for dinner while ole Ron just kept rattling on.
      One audience member reports Weiser, the efficient businessman, was not very happy that he was blind-sided .
      At least Rusty Hills got it right.  He was allowed to speak on behalf of his boss and candidate for governor Mike Cox, but he did it during dinner.
      He did so while fellow candidate for governor, Sen. Tom George (R-Kalamazoo) had to sit there and listen.  He was denied access to the microphone and had to settle for a hand wave to the audience when he was introduced before dinner.
     Candidate for attorney general Mike Bishop was not there but somebody dropped off some bumper stickers with "M.B. 4 A.G." printed on them.
      The other A.G. contender, Bill Schuette, was there and spent the entire dinner doing his "Schuette on duty" stchick of pouring coffee for everyone in the joint. 
       On the Secretary of State front Sen. Michelle McManus attended but Anne Norlander did not as was the case for Cameron Brown although there was Brown literature on the back table.
      But interestingly when the road showed moved to Crystal Mountain on Saturday night in McManus's own district, she was the no show and when her daughter was introduced as a surrogate, she was no where to be found either.
      Norlander was at this event and had one "shinning" moment.  When the guest speaker asked the audience to raise their hands if it felt the news media was biased every hand, save one, went up. Norlander defended the media.  The speaker noted that she was running for office and perhaps that had something to do with her opinion?
      Schuette was again on duty with his coffee pots.
      With so many pols in the room, one Benzie County GO P leader confessed, "Everyone wanted to talk.  We would have been here until midnight" which is why none of them spoke at the podium.
      And on that subject, apparently the Oakland County GOP introduced a variation on the "Pay to Play" theme i.e. "Pay to Speak."
      The Mike Cox folks reports they was asked to pay $2000 to address the Oakland GOP Lincoln Day dinner. The Cox camp said no.  So much for free speech.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Obama Gives Freebie to R's

    When some reporter asked El Presidente the other night about the status of the national Republican Party, you thought for sure he would shoot back, "It's not my job to advise the GOP."  Period and next question.
    But he took the bait and actually did the GOP a favor by giving them the right advice at no charge, no less.
    "I think opposing our approach on every front is probably not a good political strategy," he hit the nail on the head.
     But does the GOP get it?
     Well coincidently just days after the news conference, some high profile R's called a confab in Arlington, Virginia at a local pizza shop where they pledged to revamp the party.
     Former Governors Jeb Bush and presidential wanna-be Mitt Romney confessed their party was the party of always saying, "No" which is what the president was talking about.
     And by forming a new group they pledged to stand for something else.
    "Don't be so nostalgic," Bush advised the crowd which was a reference to the oft-stated GOP mantra that the party needed to get back to its Ronald Reagan roots.
      Fact is, what worked for Reagan way back when does not work now.  Republicans are not winning and won't win by just saying cut taxes and reduce the size of government.
      And they won't win by harping about gay-marriage, gun rights abortion, and a host of other hot-button wedge issues.
     But there is the rub.  There is a side of the party, and you know who you are, that just loves to lecture the world about those issues.  You can't criticize them for having those beliefs or wanting to act on them, but unfortunately for the far right, the voters in the middle of the country's political population could give a hoot.
     But tell that to the conservatives who in fact were out front of the pizza shop protesting what their "reform" minded republican brethren were doing inside.
     There in a nutshell is why the president was right and why the R's are in deep do-do.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Here We Go Again

      Set your watch for twenty-four days. By then you'll know if the Oakland County Sheriff will turn in his badge to run for governor of Michigan.
      Mike Bouchard is again thinking about making the bid for the state's highest office but note, he's been here before and has never pulled the trigger.  He says he'll pull it or release it by the time the Detroit Chamber of Commerce confab is held on Mackinac Island in those twenty-four days.
      "I am listening and talking" reports Bouchard who can ponder this race now that Oakland County executive L. Brooks Patterson will not run.
        On one hand having a candidate from Oakland County has some appeal to republicans. The last two  hailed from that "other" side of the state.
   A 0    But on the other hand with the economy being the number one issue, what qualities does a sheriff bring to that?
        Bouchard argues he would be a good governor since he has legislative and executive experience, but he won't run if there is not a "high probability" he can win.
        Bouchard has detractors. One Oakland County R suggests the sheriff gets up every morning and "looks for a TV camera or a mirror."  What politician doesn't?
        Another says, "He talks about running all the time.  He is not credible" plus "he is six months behind" other contenders in the crowed GOP contest.
        Candidate Mike Cox, who was relieved when Patterson dropped out, wants to win Oakland County but if Bouchard runs, that assignment gets toughe r. However, Cox backers have a pretty impressive list of would be donors from the county including FOB's i.e. friends of Bouchard.
       Bouchard dismisses that saying the list will change if he runs.
       While some believe he is running already, given a chance the other day to rate his interest on a scale of one to ten, Bouchard punted.
       If you have fire in your gut to run, you would at least pick a number don't ya think?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Here We Go Again

   First everyone was certain she would land a job in the new Obama administration.  Didn't happen.  Now the speculation is she may end up on the U.S. Supreme Court with Justice Souter hanging up his robe in June.
   As Jennifer Granholm likes to say, "Everybody step back and chill out."
   Will her name be on a list to fill the vacancy?  Probably.
   Will she eventually get the job?  It's a long shot.
   But that will not stop the speculation from engulfing this town for the next 30 days.
    It is interesting that the first Associated Press story out of the nation=E 2s capitol did not include Granholm's name reflecting the reality that there are many more seasoned judicial candidates ahead of her on the White House list.
    After all her resume, while impressive, is not that lengthy as it includes being a law clerk, a federal prosecutor, state attorney general and now governor.  You don't see the title "Judge" in there anywhere and reasonable men and women would concluded that might be a prerequisite for sitting on the highest court in the land. 
    However she did look very judicial when she presided over a hearing to remove Kwame Kilpatrick as Mayor of Detroit.  But playing one is not the same as being one.
    For her part, through her mouthpiece Liz Boyd, the governor reasserts that she intends to finish her term as chief executive.
    However there are some Michigan democrats who would like Ms. Granho lm to find a job somewhere else so that Lt. Governor John Cherry could run for governor as the incumbent. That would marketedly increase the democratic changes of holding onto the seat.
    So pull up a chair if you love to watch the speculation game.  It's about to jump into high gear one more time.