Blogs > Skoop's Blog

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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Loyal to the Bitter End

   You've read all those stories about the moving van companies can't keep up with the demand of those who want to get the heck out of his state.  To read those reports, you would think the mass exodus has reached epic proportions.
    Think again.
    The latest FOX2 News survey reveals that 67% of us have decided to tough it out despite a record jobless rate, a seven year recession, and little if any hope for the future.  Good ridden's to the 28% of those wimps who are heading for the border.
    To an outside observer, one might conclude that since most folks want to stay here, that there is something wrong with us.  True, next question.
    But as we stay here, a majority are not prepared to cope with these challenges by hitting the bottle or the casinos.
    Check this out which will diminish our collective image as a hard hitting shot and a beer bunch of gamblers:  59% are against leaving the bars open to 4 a.m.; 67% don't want to sell booze before noon on Sunday and not all of those were from the West side of the state; 56% have said enough already with casinos as they oppose any expansion which is now the subject of a statewide petition drive.
    On other issues in the TV station survey, here's another shocker. You would think that the average Joe would want to sock it to the doctors with a three percent tax.  After all it's not that they can't afford it, but a respectable 55% say don't tax 'em.
    And when it comes to the blame game as to who is at fault for the bungled budget mess under the state capitol dome, that sigh of relief you just heard is from the governor.  Only 31% finger her for the problem while 42% blame the legislature.
   And for the 67% of you who have decided to stick around, it's going to get worse before it gets better.  Have a nice day and thanks for saying yes to Michigan.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oscar and Felix

The legislature's celebrated odd-couple is at odds.
For months House Democratic Speaker Andy Dillon and Sen. GOP leader
Mike Bishop have walked pretty much arm and arm through a budget
writing minefield and for a moment it looked as though they would
emerge with their trusting relationship intact.
Forget that.
"It was a breach of an agreement," reflected odd couple number one
as Mr. Dillon noted his buddy Bishop just killed a doctor's tax that
Dillon wanted to fill in the budget holes in the states health care
budget for the needy.
Dillon contends that Bishop promised him a "good faith" effort at
getting the doc tax through the GOP controlled senate. What Dillon got
instead was a quicky up and down vote after only one democrat was
allowed to speak in support of a possible compromise on the measure.
It took Dillon almost 90 minutes to pass the tax in the house and
Bishop about ten minutes to kiil it in the senate.
"I got no notice and no opportunity" to see if the proposal could
be reworked Dillon tells the capitol press corps.
"I'm not happy" he noted and asked if his trust in the senator
had been shaken, he cryptically responded, "Yes."
Interestingly prior to Dillon's remarks, the same press corps
cross examined Bishop who said he never had an agreement with his pal
to move the doctor tax but the GOP leader said the relationship was
still sound and he, Bishop, could continue to work with the democratic
Maybe he needs to check that with Dillon who accuses Bishop of
playing politics at a time when all sides should be at the table
talking about how to raise new revenue to restore part of the $1.2
billion in budget cuts that Bishop wanted and got.
So Felix, err Bishop is happy and Oscar, err Dillon is not.
And who is that over there whispering, "I told ya so?" Why it's
governor Jennifer Granholm who somewhere along the line probably warned
Dillon not to trust Big Mike.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Reverse Recall

Nobody has ever tried this, but as the governor frantically
search for senate GOP votes to raise revenue for the schools, why not
toss in a reverse recall as a threat if the R's don't budge?
A reverse what?
Heretofore, when the anti-tax gaggle has wanted to intimidate
lawmakers into opposing anything that even looks like a tax increase,
they eventually trot out the recall option: Vote for that tax boost
and we'll try to boot you out of office.
So why not flip it: If you DON'T vote for more revenue, we'll try
to boot you out of office.
Oh my that would be nasty.
But think about it. The schools now confront a whopping $292 cut
for every school kid who walks through the door. The governor is
urging the education lobby, see yesterday's blog, to get in the game
and turn up the heat on republicans who are loathed to put up a green
light on new revenue. Tossing the recall card on the table might up
the ante.
However there are only four republicans that could be threatened;
the rest are all term-limited out of office at the end of next year so
trying to recall them is a waste of time; they are leaving anyway.
Thus the reverse recall strategy, as far-fetched as it is, could be
more fruitful in the house where a ton of republicans want to hang onto
their jobs.
Nobody has talked about actually doing this, but to be honest
nobody has really considered the option…until now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Power of Education

At the end of this historic battle, we'll know how much juice the
state's education lobby really has and whether Gov. Jennifer Granholm
is a wounded lame duck.
The governor rolled the dice last week in a gutsy move to round up
some GOP senate votes to raise new revenue for the schools. She
announced a whopping $292 cut per pupil across the state. Republicans
blamed her for for trying to force them to cough up the bucks.
That's exactly what she was doing and the Senate GOP leader labeled
it a form of political extortion. Which, by the way, is not illegal.
Just ask former GOP Gov. John Engler who raised political extortion
during his tenure to an art form.
The massive and well-heeled and supposedly influential school lobby
standing behind the governor 1000%.
She has launched a road show taking her into major school
districts, holding closed door meetings with superintendents, parents,
and teachers urging them to get into the game. She then emerges and
gets some free coverage from the media which serves to underscore the
urgency of her message.
But the troops she is trying to rally, can they arm-twist enough
senate R's for more money to reduce that hefty $292 cut?
The education lobby was very successful in blocking an earlier
$218 slice out of the per pupil funding formula; it forced lawmakers to
reduce that to $165.
And the senate Republicans gave some ground on finding new dollars
to pay for the reduction. But can they be brow-beaten into doing it
The governor is gambling the answer is yes as she goes one on
one, behind closed doors, with republican senators who may be
sympathetic to her revenue plea.
Asked the other day how many R votes she had, she said she didn't
But with the education lobby helping her to turn up the heat, she
hopes to net three, four maybe even five GOP defections.
When the dust settles, we'll know how powerful it and she really

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fly Boys Miss Mark

Let's get real here. Was it that big of a deal that two airline
over flew Minneapolis by 150 miles? Really, if you had a chance to
by-pass Minnesota, wouldn't you jump at the chance?
But apparently this was some sort of shocking news. The three
major networks came unglued and led with the silly story on Friday as
if world peace had been affected by this "asleep at the switch"
All the anchors showed dismay and worried about the lives of all
those poor passengers. Hey, the darn plane was on automatic pilot and
the worse that could have happened was that it ended up in Toronto
which is nicer than Minnesota any day of the week. Eventually somebody
would have landed the thing.
Yes, it was news that the pilots suggested they lost orientation
for 90 minutes because they were engaged in a "heated discussion about
company policy" which one of the fly boys says is not true. Nonetheless
the air traffic controllers, sensing another hijacking, almost
scrambled the national guard jets to do what..shoot down the aircraft?
You may not know it, but lots of pilots on lots of planes fall
asleep. The real story here is that the airlines and the FAA have done
nothing about it.
Sure they have some regulations buried in some handbook somewhere
demanding that pilots have enough shut-eye at the end of one flight and
before they lift off on another. But come on, we know the airline
executives wink at that everyday because to enforce it would mean
they'd have to hire more pilots and that would impact the profit margin.
How about a story on that aspect and give the two poor schulbs who
missed Minnesota a break.
The only real winners here were the late night comics who got at
least five minutes of solid material out of the incident. So it was not
a total loss.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hey Boss, The Gov. Is Here

To say this governor is overly competitive would be under stating
reality. She is competitive sometimes to a fault, but this latest
example was not a mistake.
Ever since Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed that $52 million in state
aid to schools that are a little more upscale, there has been a push
back aimed at her. The veto was a gutsy move and her inner circle
advisors warned her to brace herself for a firestorm of
criticism...which, of course, she is getting.
On Wednesday, she was in the Detroit metro area and she monitors,
like a hawk, all the local radio clap-trap and apparently she heard a
guy named Randy Liepa honking on about how the governor was at fault
for slicing $4.7 million out of his Livonia school budget.
Finding fault with anyone who is competitive is just inviting a
retort and sure enough, she retorted by showing up in his office,
unannounced, uninvited, and ready to set the record straight.
"Hey boss, the governor wants to see you!"
Superintendent Liepa refused to disclose what was said in the
meeting when WWJ NewsRadio950 made an inquiring phone call. But a
different source indicates the governor told him she was not to blame.
In an earlier news conference, the governor pinned that directly on
senate republicans in general and Sen. Mike Bishop in specific and you
can be pretty much assured she repeated the blame for the surprised Mr.
Guess that will teach him a thing or two about being in the ring
with this governor. BTW there are unconfirmed reports that Liepa was
not the only one to get a surprise phone call or visit as the hub bub
over the veto reaches fever pitch and the governor competes to shift
the blame.

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So Which Is It Mr. Bishop?

Since last February, the senate GOP leader has steadfastly
insisted that the only way to eradicate a $2 billion dollar hole in the
state budget was to cut state services. And so isn't it interesting
that when the governor did just that this week on a portion of the
school aid bill, Sen. Mike Bishop went bonkers.
The Oakland County budget-cutter accused the governor of
political "extortion" when she vetoed $52 million earmarked for more
well-to-do school districts including a ton of those in Bishop's own
Not only did he use the extortion charge, he tacked this on for
good measure: "She has breach her fiduciary responsibility as CEO of
this state" by taking a "divet" out of the school budget.
What's the saying about having it both ways?
Gov. Jennifer Granholm didn't want to make the cut but she claims
she had no choice because Bishop and his GOP cronies sent her a K-12
bill that was under funded.
Granholm's budget guy, Bob Emerson, asserts that if anybody is
guilty of neglecting his or her "fiduciary responsibility" it was
The senator is spot on right when he says the governor is using
the veto to force the GOP senators to raise revenue to restore the $52
million cut which could catapult some schools into insolvency.
The governor confirms that when she asks Bishop to stop being
"rigid" about finding new money. And a democratic source who has
talked with Bishop about new revenue, that would not be a tax increase,
reveals that Bishop is willing to discuss shaving off some money from
current business tax credits that may not be working.
Could they find enough money to restore the school cuts?
You bet.
Will they?
With these guys, who the heck knows.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where Do You Get Your News?

If you are reading this, consider yourself in a new minority: Folks
who get their news on the Internet. 83% of the population does not
turn here. 17% do.
That's just one of the fascinating results in a new statewide
survey conducted by MRG which asked the straight forward question:
Where do you get your news?"
Not surprisingly, 50% turn to the tube. It's been that way for
decades. The findings after that show 17% turn to the newspaper, 12%
dial in for radio news and 1% pick up a magazine.
The fact that newspapers and the Internet are tied at 17% is an
eye-opener. And your eyes open even wider when you break it down based
on age.
Check this out: If you are between 18 and 34 years of age, 42% of
your news gathering occurs on line. And how many in that group read
the paper? Zero. Nada. Zilch.
That collective "ouch" you just heard comes from the editors
sitting in newsrooms around the state.
Compare the younger age group with those over 55.
Only 11% of those use the Internet while 20% continue to read the
Do the ugly math. More folks over 55 are dying and when each one
leaves for the Promised Land, there are no younger readers filling in
the gap. It's a prescription that is bad medicine for newspapers.
There is not only an age difference, only 3% of African Americans
scroll the Internet for news while 28% of those in Oakland County go
there. That's the highest Internet usage in the state.
But news hounds beware and this is scary. Some of the "news" you
get on the Internet is pure opinion masquerading as journalism. Fact is
some of the citizen "reporters" don't adhere to any standards of
fairness, balance, or any of the other principles of real journalism.
So beware of what you swallow on the Internet. Perish the
thought, but it might not be true…this blog excluded, of course.

Monday, October 19, 2009

All Talk...Still

Here comes that gang of 44 again, once more flapping their
collective jaws about changing the culture in the Michigan House. Talk
is cheap and so far that's about all the freshman class of '09 has done.
Recently the Detroit Free Press picked up on the grumbling that
that new comers are engaging in, now that they have completed, almost,
the first budget cycle and found it wanting.
No kidding.
And they vow to meet this week but the GOP co-chair suggests that
the session may be nothing more than a b----- session so the freshmen
and women can let off some steam.
Wow…that will change the culture. Not!
If this new batch of newcomers wants to change things around
here, they are six months late and a dollar short. It is long over due
that they actually DO something.
Oh, sorry, they did do something a couple of weeks ago. They
endorsed a scheme to set up a deadline for passing the budget long
before the infamous October first deadline and if the early schedule is
missed, lawmakers would lose a days pay for each day past the deadline.
Now to be sure that is a laudable objective and never mind that
they stold it from the governor who probably swiped from someone else,
but pride of authorship is not the point. Getting this enacted is and
on that front, the freshpersons got their publicity pop for suggesting
it but failed to address the obvious pitfall: two thirds of the sitting
lawmakers have to pass this thing. In other words, it will not pass.
Instead of mouthing off about the need for change, the newbies
could have launched a statewide petition drive to by-pass the
legislature and take it directly to the citizens, but no, they offered
up the idea and settled back into their, "we can change the culture
with a press release" mentality.
It is painful to keep whacking these new folks because it appears
they really are upset and really really want to do something about, but
there it stops.
We already have too much of the "talk and no action" attitude in
this town and adding 44 more believers in that, is hardly a game

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Right From Wrong

It's a well known fact that teens have a ton of disposable income
to spread around…mostly thanks to mom and dad who give it to them. So
you would assume that most business folks would welcome the teens with
open arms, which is why the sign on the door was so mysterious.
Location: The 7-11 in Traverse City.
Sign on door: Two students at a time in store. Others will be
asked to wait outside.
Since journalists are a curious lot to begin with, it seemed only
natural to inquire as to the significance of that sign.
It didn't take long for the meaning to sink it.
"Last month we lost between $10,000 and $12,000 with kids coming in
here and stealing stuff," the assistant manager began the conversation.
12,000 bucks? That's a boat load of bubble gum, beef jerky and
And since the sign went up, the sticky fingers have disappeared.
The loss due to thief is now zero.
But the guy was not through explaining and here's where it gets
scary. Turns out one of the high school females who got caught
explained that it was not her fault that she was stealing.
"It's your fault," she advised the store owner "for not installing
the camera equipment to stop the stealing."
Hello. Earth to teenager.
This kid was serious. She apparently did not realize that
stealing is stealing and the person who does it is responsible and just
because the store can't afford the video system to nab everyone, does
not excuse the wrongdoing in the first place.
Talk about your misguided and illogical thinking.
Is it possible that somebody 17 years old has gone through her
entire life and nobody pulled her aside and explained that taking stuff
that is not yours is wrong?
And here's the real kicker. Some in the T.C. community are
criticizing the store for slapping the sign on the door! Those
comments are probably from the same parents who forgot to tell their
kids it's against the law to swipe stuff.
Go figure.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hunting for a Compromise

He said he'd send her the budgets in time for her to review them
and veto some programs.
She said she never heard that from him.
Here we go again with the two non-communicators a.k.a. Jennifer
Granholm and Mike Bishop.
The governor and the senate GOP leader huddled behind closed
doors for over an hour and emerged no closer to a budget compromise
than when the began.
She wants to raise more revenue.
He does not.
She wants him to compromise.
He's not budging.
She's going to fight to restore funding for her top priorities.
He says he'll fight to balance the budget without any tax hikes.
Doesn't all this have a familiar ring to it?
In fact this back and forth has been the story line between these
two for the past six months.
"I've compromised," the governor told the capitol press corps
this week and now it was time for "everyone", she would not mention him
by name, to do the same for the"good of Michigan."
"I know she wants to raise revenue," Bishop confirmed but for
the umpteenth time he reported there were no votes in his caucus to do
"We had a bi-partisan agreement to cut the budget (and) now all
these theatrics" stand in the way of ending the debate, the Oakland
County senator observed.
Only problem is the governor never signed off on the Bishop and
House Speaker Andy Dillon budget cuts and so the impasse remains just
Yet, hope springs eternal with a Halloween deadline getting
scarier by the day. They'll meet again today with more he said, she
said, to follow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Casino Wars Round Two

When the beleaguered horse racing industry, with he governor's
blessing, tried years ago to legalize slot machines at race tracks, the
existing Indian and Detroit casinos went to war to kill it and they did.
Casino wars, round two, is coming up.
This time the folks who run Hazel Park want more than just slot
machines, they want to turn the state's five tracks into full fledged
casinos which would provide even more competition with the 26 casinos
already in business.
Backers need 400,000 petition signatures to put this puppy on the
November, 2010 statewide ballot. If they get enough names, and they
can buy them easily, then they have to convince you to expand gaming
here from 26 to 34. That sell job will be tougher because the other
side will pump in even more money to kill this thing again.
Proponents have a new twist in their strategy, however. They are
going to make sure that every county, all 83 of them, get a part of the
profits. And the backers are willing to turn over 30% of the profits to
the state and earmark the money for education, police and fire
protection and all the other high profile essential services they can
find. That will have curbside appeal.
Note that the current casinos send only chump change to the state
and local governments so you could see groups such as the Michigan
Municipal League, the Michigan Township Association and maybe even the
Michigan Education Association get on board. Where there is money to
be had, special interest groups tend to line up.
Of course, some will argue there is a saturation point. That there
are just so many smoking senior citizens to visit these venues and you
could create a thousand casinos and that would not mean more gamblers
would show up.
But that will not deter the sponsors who want to save the racing
industry which is coming around the club house turn, headed for the
When casino gaming got started, then Gov. John Engler noted, he did
not want Michigan to become the Las Vegas of the Midwest.
Well if this new scheme passes, somebody dust off the bumper sticker
that reads: What happens in Michigan, stays in Michigan.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Times Have Changed

Thirty years ago if they tried a stunt like this, the sponsors
would have been laughed off the legislative floor. Trying to push
through drinking hard liquor before noon on Sunday and allowing the
bars to stay open until 4 a.m. would have been crushed by the
anti-drinking lobby.
Ah, but today, the so-called "drys," as they were known years
ago, are battling to kill this thing before it multiples and it's no
longer a sure bet they will win.
Thirty years ago there was no Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.
The religious lobby pretty much fought the drinking wars. Now MADD and
others are poised to take on the sponsors of the measure, including the
governor, who are desperate to raise new revenue without raising taxes.
It will be an emotional battle.
On the one side are all the casinos in the state which stand to
reap huge profits. There's nothing like a slot machine player at 3:30
a.m. feeling just a little tipsy and plunking those quarters into the
machines like there's no tomorrow.
Mom and pop bars, however, are not that excited because it
would cost them $1500 to get the new license. And while that is only
30 bucks a week, apparently the bar lobby thinks that is too steep.
They also can't swallow another provision which gives20local
governments the power to veto the license if there is a local bar that
entertains unsavory customers. The bars argue it gives the local
government a chance to get even with bars they don't like.
The governor is quick to argue that all of this is voluntary.
If a bar doesn't like the fee, it doesn't have to pay but if Joe's
Saloon down the street has it and Bob's Bar does not, there's a
competition thing to worry about.
At any rate, the fact that this proposal is still alive, is
testimony to the fact that times have changed and odds are it will
pass…an unheard of notion thirty years ago when drinking before church
was a mortal sin.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The governor proposes and the legislature disposes…and then the
governor gets to veto what she doesn't like. There in a nutshell is
the budget process, but apparently the senate GOP leader fell asleep
during that chapter in his high school civics course.
Oakland County Senate leader Mike Bishop did a grand job of ushering
his $1.2 billion state budget cuts through both houses, but now he is
sitting on six of those bills because he is afraid the governor is
going to veto some of the cuts. Poor baby. That's how the system
By refusing to send the state police, revenue sharing, higher
education and three other bills to the governor for her review, Bishop
is refusing to let the process take its course. The only way to please
him is for the governor to look him in his baby blues and promise not
to nick his cuts. Trust her, she ain't (sic) gonna to do it.
Some in town believe Bishop is on a path to blame her for another
shutdown of government. If he sits on those budgets until the end of
the month and then sends them to her, she won't have time to review all
the budgets and thus, the theory goes, she has two choices; sign the
bills and Bishop wins or veto all the bills and Bishop wins again. The
republicans would blame her for closing down those programs.
The senate democratic leader Mike Prussi checked in on
this strategy
saying it was a cockamamie idea. Asked for a translation he noted, its
an age old way of saying, "Bull----."
The governor would never indulge in such barnyard lingo, but that's
what she is thinking, too. She wants Bishop to get off the dime, send
her the bills, let her veto them and then he can try to override them
which is also part of the legislative process.
Deep down inside he knows he does not have the votes to do that,
hence he sits and she's losing patience and the citizens face yet
another shutdown scenario at the end of the month.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Legislative "Sins"

In churches across the land this day, some preacher somewhere will
give a sermon on hypocrisy, the art of believing one thing and doing
just the opposite. Maybe some of our state lawmakers will take heed
and repent of their "sins" at the state capitol.
You should not be shocked to learn that some of our politicians on
the campaign trail profess to believe in helping education, the truly
needy, seniors, and the cops on the beat and the firefighter on the
hook and ladder truck.
But when it comes time to put up the money to fulfill the pledge,
they refuse to do it. It's a legislative two-faced "sin" that goes
back to Adam. You can't have it both ways.
You'll get another peak at it this week as those same lawmakers,
mostly republicans, who demand that government be downsized, will have
a chance to do it, but will cave in to the pressure from the Michigan
Farm Bureau and other agricultural interests.
Last week the governor paid off on a promise to reduce the number
of state departments by combing the DNR and the DEQ into one, while at
the same time she grabbed some power to appoint the directors of the
Agriculture department and the DNR. This gives her the power to order
those directors to make cost cuts and other reforms rather than having
to work through a bulky commission. It's called accountability.0D
The farm guys came unglued and immediately got on the horn to
outstate republicans, hoards of which owe their election to the
farmers, and told them in no uncertain terms they better vote to undo
what the governor done did. (sic)
What's a poor lawmaker to do? They have blathered for years about
getting rid of bureaucracy and now the governor needs their vote to
actually do it, but they risk offending special interest groups that
don't like it one iota.
Let's see: Remain true to what you profess or do just the opposite
and hope nobody notices the hypocrisy?
You know what they'll do which is why during the sermon, they were
thinking about something else.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Schools Dodge One Bullet But...

Michigan schools dodged one nasty bullet in the state legislature,
only to get hit with one of a lower caliber.
Last week house democrats and republicans steadfastly refused to
take a meat axe to the school aid budget by whacking $218 from every
school kid. That was the good news.
The bad news is the cut is now $165 per pupil when most of the
schools budgeted for $110.
Welcome to the continuing impact of Michigan's rotten economy
where costs continue to raise and incoming revenue continue a
disappearing act.
At first lawmakers thought about using federal stimulus money to
pay for the $53 dollar reduction for the schools. It was tempting but
in a rare exercise of looking to the future, they decided to hang onto
the federal bucks knowing that it will be used next year when things
could be even worse.
Then they decided to come up with some new dollars, not a tax
increase to get the job done. And it is significant that senate
republicans lead the way on that. It marked the first time that senate
GOPers acknowledged that this current budget could not be balanced with
cuts alone.
"Finally," the house democratic floor leader Rep. Kathy Angerer
observed as she embraced the senate republican revenue move.
While the schools are not happy with the cut, at least it avoids
l payless paydays and reopens the federal grant pipeline at the
same time.
As for the overall impact on the quality of education around
these parts, educators will make those decisions on where to cut in the
next few days. Needless to say, it will not be pretty as your little
Johnny and Janey are going to end up with more classmates.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

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Look For Your Fuzzy Dice

If you were really cool in the 50's and 60's you had fuzzy dice
hanging from your rear view mirror. They would dangle back and forth
as you cruised around the local drive in looking for whatever.
In stepped the cops, as they are want to do, and declared them a
driving hazard and up to this day they remain illegal.
Well if Sen. Ron Jelinek has his way, you can pull the fuzzy dice
out of moth balls as a senate committee cleared the way for a vote next
week to legalize them and other items, too.
"As long as they don't hinder your view" they are O.K. reports Sen.
Jud Gilbert (R-Algonac) who ushered the thing through his
transportation committee.
The proposal would also allow the display of high school and
college graduation tassels and even garters, if you are so inclined.
Of course below the radar of this debate was the "reason" the
cops wanted this law in the first place. It was another reason to pull
you over with hopes of slapping you with another offense.
Back in the 50's, they were looking for booze in the back seat.
Today, God only knows what they might find back there.
But regardless the state police signed off on the bill which may
clear the way for passage in both houses.
Let's hear it for fuzzy dice.
But don=E
2t rejoice for long. The cops have an eye on your
blackberry next.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Who Is The Non-Politician Now

Ricky. Ricky. How could you possibly do that?
After spending all summer running around the state proclaiming from
the mountain top that he was not a professional politician, Ann Arbor
business guy Rick Snyder just proved that he is.
At the recent state GOP Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island,
Synder and the other four contenders in the race for governor were
involved in a straw poll that, in the grand scheme of things, is
basically meaningless.
Nonetheless Mike Bourchard, Mike Cox and Snyder engaged in a little
ballot strategy whereby they covered the costs of some of the
conference participants in exchange for that participant's vote in the
The following memo reached this desk in which the Snyder folks look
like their learned how to play politics in Chicago's Cook County which
is notorious for questionable activity.
In it Snyder supporters are advised that "you are in no way required
to vote for any candidate, disclose or show your ballot to anyone."
All nice and proper, with no gripes there.
Ah but read on: "However, in order to remain eligible for Rick for
Michigan receptions, ferry's (to and from the island) and hotel room,
you must show your ballot to Rick's official representative at the
ballot box…."
Hum, this is getting interesting.
And just to make sure none o
f the volunteers for Ricky didn't miss
the point, they were asked to sign a document that was blunt: "I have
read and understand that by staying in a Rick for Michigan sponsored
hotel room and traveling on a Rick for Michigan ferry is contingent
upon voting for Rick Snyder in the straw poll."
Synder's team confessed to nothing but admitted to running an
"effective and efficient operation" on the island. And, in defending
the above statement, the team explained it was used to weed out
"infiltrators"from other campaigns who were supposedly posing as Snyder
backers. And finally it blamed the others for using mounds of
"special interest" money to fund their efforts. Synder used his own. A
distinction without a difference. The fact is money was used to
influence the outcome; a political tradition as old as dirt.
Boss Tweed would be proud of non-politician Ricky Snyder.
Synder, on the other hand, should probably drop all that bla bla
about being one.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Revenue Showdown

Last ast week it was budget cuts. This week, it's raise new
revenue to restore some of those budget cuts. Welcome to the
continuing budget saga, the story that refuses to go away.
After the dust cleared from the wrangling last week it was clear
that only 32 folks in the Michigan House had the guts to slice $218
from every school kid in the state. Those were probably lawmakers with
no kids, no relative with kids, no pals in the education lobby, and
those retiring from politics.
The vast majority of republicans, who all year long bragged about
cutting state services to balance the budget, suddenly got ice cold
footsies as the education lobby lowered the boom on these guys. Since
the Michigan Education Association bankrolled some of those lawmakers
in their election bids, the pols listened to what the MEA was saying:
Don't vote yes on that cut!
So now comes an effort to raise revenue to lower the $218 to some
other figure and the clock is ticking on that, too. In order for
schools to meet their payroll later this month, the state must have the
school aid payment checks in the mail by Saturday. Hence if lawmakers
dilly and dally and miss that deadline, there could be payless paydays
in the schools statewide with resulting national headlines pointing out
again how inept our lawmakers really are…as if we need to read that
Nobody wants that but they are not exactly lining up to vote for
more revenue either. That means this week will be a humdinger to watch
with the education of your kids hanging in the balance.
Assuming new revenue comes out of the house and that's a pretty
good bet, the real showdown is in the senate where the republicans have
been saying no to tax hikes all year long. Despite that, revenue
raisers have their fingers crossed that three, four, five, maybe even
six republicans will cough up a yes vote.
Believe it when you see it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Could It Happen Here, Too?

If it happened in New York, could it happen here?
You've probably read about the apparent efforts by the Obama
admininstration to get the current New York governor out of the race.
What did Gov. David Paterson do to deserve that? Try his 20% approval
ratings in the polls.
At first blush, one might ask, "What the heck is the president doing
mucking around in a race for governor in New York?" Doesn't he have
more important fish to fry?"
Fact is, he is taking care of a really big fish that will be on the
table in four years: His own reelection bid and obviously somebody in
the Obama inner circle has concluded the president needs to win New
York and the current governor won't be much help. Period and adios
Which brings us to Michigan and the 2010 race for governor. Mr.
Obama needs to win this state next time and if there is a conservative
Republican sitting where democrat Jennifer Granholm now sits, Obama's
chances are diminished.
Which brings us to the so-called Cherry problem. Everyone knows
Lt. Governor John Cherry can win the Democratic primary with one arm
tied behind his back. But then there is the general election.
If you listen closely, you can hear the chatter below the radar:
Can Cherry win in November?
And listen even closer and you can hear the same thing=2
0in the
White House.
Hence, is Mr. Cherry the next Mr. Paterson on the Obama hit list?
And does that open the door to a Andy Dillon run for the gov's
Great questions to ponder, wouldn't you say?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Two Times in Three Years

It could have been worse, a lot worse. Yes, the inept Michigan
legislature made it two for three in missing deadlines but in the grand
scheme of things, it made no difference.
Two years ago they shut the government down for four hours and this
time it was just under two hours. No harm, no foul.
Nonetheless the Speaker of the House said, "I'm sorry we couldn't
get it done on time." In his defense, there were a lot of moving
parts. But as noted in this space recently, it's not that they
didn't't have a lot of time to move them into place. After all the
governor sent them her budget when he snow was flying last February.
Well having sat through this most recent budget ballet, the mighty
freshman caucus in the Michigan House, all forty-four of them, finally
got up the nerve to call for some reform.
Actually they swiped it from Gov. Granholm and Mike Bouchard who
swiped it from her. It's a plan to reduce the pay of lawmakers for
each day they don't have a budget in place by July first.
It's one of those no-brainer concepts that leaves you wondering,.
"Why haven't they been doing that all along?" Good question.
The answer is the guys who would be hurt, are the same guys who have
to approve it. 'Nuf said.
So give the freshies their due. They spoke with on
e voice. But
they could have had a bigger impact if they had gotten up last July, in
the middle of an elongated summer recess, and called out there elders
for fiddling while the budget remained unresolved.
Maybe next year when they go three for four.