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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

      Before you play your Happy Days Are Here Again CD, consider this sobering number: $1.8 billion.
     If the state senate bean counters are correct that is the deficit number starring lawmakers and the governor in the face as they go into the not so happy new year.
    In 2009, legislative republicans won the budget cutting game with $1.2 billion in state service cuts and no tax hikes.  The number would have been even higher had it not been for the steady flow of Obama stimulus dollars into state coffers.
    Gov. Jennifer Granholm has her fingers and toes crossed there will be more stimulation next year.
    If not, here's the bad news for the gov. and those who would raise new revenue to take the edge off the budget cutting axe:  While there has been pain from these cuts, no one has died from them.
    And it's unlikely the public is going to storm the state capitol demanding more money be lifted from their pay checks to avert more cuts.
    The loss of the Promise Grant for college kids did not stir anyone except college kids and parents.  Cuts in aid to the cities did not stir anyone except the village, city and county leaders.  The reductions in health care to the needy, didn't stir anyone except the needy.
    The one last bastion of hope for new money are the schools.  Folks will feel the pinch of having to find a way to get their kids to school if the buses stop running. They will object to athletics being halted and maybe they will gripe about adding another ten kids to Junior's already overcrowded 28 person classroom.
    But then again, maybe not.
    The governor is prepared to push for new revenue along with reforms with hopes that her voice will not be the only one demanding that.  She will have some friends in the business community, but then there are the legislative republicans who show no signs of changing their 2009 tune of "No New Revenue" in the New Year.
   That's a CD she does not want to hear.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Saul Nice to Cherry...What Gives?

     What a shocker.  Saul Anuzis is one of the last guys in this town you would expect to say anything even remotely complimentary about John Cherry.  After all Big Saul is the former state GOP chair and is about as partisan as it gets, yet when asked about the Cherry for Governor effort, Saul had nice things to say about democrat Cherry.
    "Anybody who underestimates John Cherry is making a mistake," Anuzis warms to the subject.
     Calling him "clever, a smart and very personable guy," Anuzis pays Cherry the ultimate compliment by using his name and John Engler's in the same sentence.
     "Cherry is one of the shrudest politicians I know…It wouldn't be a stretch to say that he is the Democrat's John Engler."
      Recall that when John Engler first ran for governor, everyone said with conviction there was no way he could unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Jim Blanchard.  No how, no way.
     Well, of course, the impossible happened and now Anuzis is concerned, if you read between the compliments, that to underestimate Cherry as the D's did to Engler, could end up in four more years of democratic reign.
     Unfortunately for Cherry, one positive review from Anuzis will not erase the "can't win" mantra which is fully engrained in this town's psyche.  The challenge in the New Year will be for Cherry-ittes to find a way to prove he can win.
     Maybe Saul could do a TV spot for his long time acquaintance J.C.?
     Right and Kwame will pay back all the money he owes, too.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Illogical Legislative Logic is Lousy

    Sometimes legislative logic leaves much to be desired in that it is lousy reasoning, masquerading as logic.
   Two such examples stick out like the proverbial sore thumb as we put a ribbon on the 2009 legislative year:  The Hollywood film tax credit and the Pure Michigan campaign.
    Everybody has seen the TV spots narrated by Tim Allen which actually bring a tear to your eye if you are a true Michiganian. The spots touch a spot that goes right to your heart and has also brought tons of out-of-state tourists to spend money here.
   Needless to say, the state needs those tourist dollars so when it came time for lawmakers to ratify another $40 million in spending to continue the very successful campaign, they….well they….blew it!
   Here is the logic they either missed, were too stupid to get, just ignored or all three.
   For every one dollar the state spent on the ads, three dollars came into the state.  Repeat, for every one dollar, etc.
   There was a proposal to raise new revenue by taxing car rentals.  That seemed logical, but wait..republicans are against raising new revenue, even if it produces more revenue.
    As a result, the commercials will not air nationwide during the critical winter tourist season.
    Next was the Hollywood credit.  Again the  R's stood up to first kill it, but then when there was a push back, they opted to scale it back. 
    Some argued that even though the credit was working and bringing 80 some movie projects to the state, why would we want to continue that when it might lose a little money in the process?
    The tax credit was having a tremendous psychological impact on a state that was in a deep-dark  funk.  The audience stood up and cheered when the Clint Eastwood movie final credit appeared:  Made in Detroit, Michigan.
    Even if the state lost a few bucks, it had a halo effect that in the long run will benefit the state.
    Maybe some Republicans have it in for all those liberal Democrats who run the movie industry?
    It's that kind of logic that leaves you shaking your head. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Button Those White House Lips

   There is White House intervention and then there is White House intervention.  An inside player in the state Democratic Party contends it is the former and not the later when it comes to White House concern abut the Michigan race for governor.
    You'll recall in this space two months or so ago, it was reported that some folks in the Obama White House were interested in the 2010 gov's contest and now Joel Ferguson says he can confirm it:  The White House, not the president, has talked with two possible contenders namely House Speaker Andy Dillon and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.
   But Ferguson, who fancies himself a consummate power broker in the party, contends talk is cheap and doesn't amount to much unless money and organization follow.
   Asked on the "Off the Record" broadcast if the White House has had these discussions with those two he responded, "That's correct."
   Ferguson is not the only one to say so as others in the party have reflected the same stance, but Fergie is off the mark somewhat when he summarily dismisses the chatter is only that.
    Any talk out of the White House that suggests Lt. Gov. John Cherry might not be a viable candidate would help Dillon and Bernero because that is their message in a nutshell. That's as good as money in the bank because it gets would be supporters to open their check books if they buy that reasoning.
    So all the president's men can stay on the sidelines and do all the whispering they want, and that will make the day for Mr. D and Mr. B. and as for Mr. C?
    He'd just as soon the guys in the White House button their lips and now.  (See Ferguson Off the Record at

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Granholm Off Guard

   Gov. Jennifer Granholm often laments that she is not very funny hence she can pretty much rule out being a stand-up comic when she retires at the end of next year.
    But she has an engaging sense of humor and her laugh is a hoot.
    To wit her year end news conference.
     She predictably reports 2010 will be better than 2009 and by definition she'll be right because GM and Chrysler are not expected to lapse back into bankruptcy court next year.
     Her handlers brief her before each of these events hence she is  seldom caught off guard. But it does happen.
    She was asked about her lack of legislative experience and how that may have handicapped her ability get things done.  She lamented that she has not learned the art of forging a compromise "without the ability to hit someone."
    The comment drew this question from the capitol press corps peanut gallery,"Who did you want to hit?"
     The question sat there. The governor's eyes opened, her hand started taping on the table as she said nothing starring into space perhaps seeking divine guidance.  Then the peanut gallery and she started to laugh.
     Another reporter jumped in to move to a different subject, but Granholm was nudged back to the original inquiry. Now her laughter is off the charts as she assemblies this reponse, "You don't want to know."
     Baloney.  Every scribe in the joint wanted to know but she would not budge as she continued to laugh.
     Then as things were winding down, out of nowhere this question hit her between the eyes:  What was most fun for you politically this year?
      As she always does when hit with a question for which there is no prepared answer, she repeated the question to buy some time.
     "What was most fun politically?"
      Here comes the laughter from everyone again and she concludes, "That's a tough one" but never comes up with a response.
      Come on, there must have been some fun such as dealing with Mike Bishop and Andy Dillon.
      Well then again, maybe not.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

  Every body said there was no way for John Engler to beat Gov. Jim Blanchard.  Engler did.
  Every body said Dick Posthumus could never defeat Jennifer Granholm for governor.  He lost by only 4 points after closing her double digit lead.  "One more week and more money, I would have won," Posthumus reflects.
  Every body says John Cherry can't win the governor's seat next November.  You would expect the GOP to say that but there are plenty of D's whispering that as well.
  Cherry-ittes must be clinging to the Engler come from behind win and the Posthumus almost win to get them through these tough times.
   It seems that everything the democratic frontrunner does is filtered through the "he-can't win" prism.  So when he rearranged some members of his campaign the other day, pow went the stories that Cherry was in trouble and the "shake-up" of his inner circle was exhibit A.
   "It was not a shake-up," Gov. Jennifer Granholm tried to put a finger in the he-can't-win dyke.  This was "movement" that was natural to a campaign.
    A sanguine Mr. Cherry described the changes on his campaign roster as the normal ebb and flow of moving from an exploratory bid to an actual bid for governor.
    "If this was being done next June, it would be a worry," reflected Cherry stalwart Mark Gaffney who runs the biggest labor union in the state.  But it was in the dead of December so not to worry.
     It's clear that Cherry's campaign manager was asked to leave even though his handlers downplayed it noting that two of the GOP candidates for governor have shifted leadership as well.
     And while this story may be a blip and quickly forgotten it only served to feed the popular wisdom that Cherry has an uphill climb.
     Maybe he should get a pep talk from Engler and Posthumus.
     Naw that won't work.  They're republicans.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

  It is tough anytime of the year to grow grassroots but especially so in the dead of winter. Ask the state's chief gardener and chief executive Jennifer Granholm.
  She tried. She really did.  She got some school parents and administrator to flood the legislative halls.  She visited every district that would let her in trying to plant the seeds of local involvement, but when the final score was counted it was Gov's grassroots nada.
    Lawmakers made an 11th hour attempt to find more money for schools, but the effort failed as lawmakers went home for the holidays leaving the school community to ponder how it will handle a $165 cut per pupil and maybe even more in the new year.
    Her problem was two-fold:  Senate Republicans lead by Sen. Mike Bishop would not budge from their pledge to write a budget without new revenue; secondly there was no blood in the streets due to the cuts. 
    The "blood" is just now beginning to flow as one school district after another announces teacher and staff layoffs, the end of transportation, a cut back in athletics and the inevitable cuts in band and the arts. 
    Some schools will muddle through by dipping into the savings accounts, but that well will eventually go dry.  Others will try their best to keep the cuts out of the classroom but they've been doing that for years and that option becomes less likely as the cuts multiply with no end in sight.
    40 or so districts are now operating in the red and that number will surely climb as some ask, "Where will this end and will it?"
    A frustrated governor was able to place on hold another $127 cut until at least January, but the way things are going, a big chuck of that will likely be taken away from the schools as well.
    As for new revenue to restore some of the cuts? In the governor's mind, hope Springs eternal, but there are no signs of Spring around here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Explorer Virg

    You've heard of exploratory surgery and exploratory expeditions but what are exploratory committees all about?
    In politics they are the vehicles to determine if a potential candidate can translate his passion and desire for this office or that, into a bona fide effort that has some chance of being successful at nailing down this office or that.
     Enter the Virg Bernero Exploratory Committee for Governor.
     The recently reelected Mayor of Lansing has not even been sworn in for a second term and now he's got a committee exploring a possible bid for the democratic nomination for governor.
      Talk about your high achiever.
     This, however, will be a short-lived committee.  It is being slapped together with one goal in mind:  Can Bernero translate all his nervous energy into convincing would-be supporters to do more than just talk about him for governor.
      In other words it is put up or shut up time for Mr. B.
      It's an easy test to score.  It is one thing for supporters to whisper in your ear, "You should run for governor" as they slap him on the back.  It is
quite another for them to open their wallets and grease his palms with some lean green.
     If at the end of next month there is no lean green, Bernero can bury this boom let and contemplate what might have been.
     However if he magically taps in the anger of the electorate and cultivates the feeling  he can actually win this thing, then you've got something to build on.
     Obviously Bernero believes he can pull it off or he would not try.
     That's one and counting.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Romney Name; Pop Left?

    Most of the folks who elected George Romney governor way back when are probably pushing up daisies or in a home somewhere in deep retirement.  Consequently you might be persuaded that the Romney moniker has lost its political pop.
    Think again.
     In 2002, a guy named Scott Romney got elected to his first statewide office as he earned himself a warm seat in the Green and White press box as a result of being elected to the MSU Board of Trustees.
     Then during the last election cycle, underdog Mitt Romney carpet bagged back into town glowing on and on about his love for Michigan.  Never mind that he abandoned "his home state" many moons ago and was governor of Massachusetts…at least the state starts with an "M."
    Regardless Mitt captured the Michigan presidential primary which was one of the only things he won during his bitter battle with rival John McCain.
    Fast forward to right now and the aforementioned Scott R. is about to take another plunge.
    "I led the ticket in 2000," Romney recalls. He was also washed away by the Obama tidal wave that rolled over the country in 2008 when Romney lost a reelection bid for the MSU board.
     Look for him to announce soon that he'll be back on the stump soon.
     Actually his announcement was a rush job.  Inside GOP types let Romney know that others were already lining up support for the one GOP slot that was open on the MSU board. The state GOP in convention will pick the candidates next year.
     A former MSU football star Mitch Lyons is running and so is Brian Breslin whose daddy's name is predominately displayed on the Breslin Center on the MSU campus.
      Rather than give them a head start, Romney quickly decided it was time to get in and in he is.  We'll see next November if Romney's pop's name has anymore pop.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Two0fer

     Predictions in the political game are dicey, but take this one to the bank.  Sometime within the next six months, a statewide ballot proposal will be teed up to revamp the term limit law and at the same time create a part time legislature.
     It has not reached critical mass, but slowly, one by one, folks are latching on to this two-fer deal which would require approval of the citizenery to make it a reality.  But first things first.
     Shortly after the 1992 term limit law took effect, the carping about it began and has now reached a loud enough volume that even the folks who said yes then, are saying no now.
     "I wasn't thinking.  I've changed my mind," is heard over and over again on the rubber chicken circuit where the term limit issue comes up repeatedly. 
      It was the senate GOP leader Mike Bishop who years ago linked these two issues.  These chatter in the business community about doing this and the House Speaker Andy Dillon has not rejected it.  The governor might get on board, too.
     In the past lawmakers have been reluctant to even whisper about passing a constitutional amendment to change the term limit law for fear that the national term limit cabal would take them on at the next election.
     But if you link term limit extensions with downsizing the legislature, perhaps those scardy cat politicians may actually grow a back bone and put it on the ballot.
     It is not that dangerous of a vote.  All they are doing is allowing voters to decide this.  That is hardly un-American.
     But it is not soup yet.  Yet the smoke signals are visible if you take the time to look…thus this prediction:  It will get on the ballot. Getting it passed?  No prediction there just yet.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And In This Corner....

   If the Granholm inner circle had an "enemies list" ala the Nixon White House years ago, one name would most certainly be near the top:  Rep. Rick Jones a former gun slinger/sheriff turned GOP lawmaker from Charlotte who continues to shoot from the lip and the Granholm crowd is not amused every time it gets winged.
   Jones has made a career out of lambasting the new state police headquarters in downtown Lansing, but now he is on the prowl to eliminate what's left of the First Gentleman's office.
   It's an office that started out with three employees but to save money it is down to one but Jones wants to make it none and he said so in a widely circulated press release the other day.  It immediately captured the  imagination of the media in that it was a simple-minded idea that even non-political reporters could comprehend.
    No one bothered to ask what impact shuttering the office would have on the state's ballooning $1.8 billion deficit?  Apparently that was irrelevant in the Jones vs. Dan Mulhern saga which Mulhern made even worse by acknowleding the attack.
    During a contentious exchange on the Frank Beekmann broadcast on WJR radio last week, Jones and Mulhern went back and forth.  An experated First Gentleman sounded more like the First Prosecutor as he challenged Jones, "Don't you start lying.  I never made a penny from the state and unless you want to see me in court, you watch what you are saying."
    Jones loved it.
    Not only did Jones, the consumate publicity seeker, get a pop from his original press release but now Mulhern was helping Jones to get another one.
    Mulhern is a good guy and is dedicated to turning the state around and has his heart in the right place.  But he should remove the number 760 from his radio dial or at least stuff something in his ears when the conservative radio bunch go after him.  He can never change any of those listner's mind and by taking the bait, he merely re enforces their anti-Granholm attitude which is exists in right wing radio land.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We R Family

  Way too often in this political game, in order to make a political gain, something has to give and usually it is the family. 
    Well now comes a beautiful example of a guy who had a shot at the top spot in the Michigan House next year.  He is what's known as an up and comer.  They usually stand out as persons with brains, passion, and a desire to lead while being somewhat humble at the same time.
    Saginaw democrat Andy Courlouris seemed to fit the mold.  He has acquitted himself quite well as chair of the House Banking committee and word on the street was he had designs on being Speaker of the House.
    Not anymore.
    True, he was flirting with it, but the longer he flirted, the less attractive the job looked.
   First there were the hours away from home.  "I didn't like it," he confesses.
   Then came the arrival of his second daughter to go with the 4 year old already at home with mom.
   After that, "my priorities were changing," he confesses again.
   Despite being only 90 minutes from home when he was in Lansing, he wanted to be home at a decent hour every night and "wake up the next morning knowing I would be home at a decent hour that night."
   He didn't say it, but you could feel in his comments that each time he looked into the eyes of his three "girls" at home, the allure of being top dog in the house might mean being a lonely dog later on.
   "I was afraid the pressure of the job would turn into something that wouldn't be good for my family…I know my quality of life and my family's quality of life will be better without that job."
    Smart man that Andy Courlouris.  He made the right decision for all the right reasons.
    It's rare in this game.  Too bad. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Absolute Power Re-do

    In  this age of term limits, lawmakers have a rotten record on long term planning. 
     So a pat on the head is warranted regarding some forward thinking now unfolding in the Michigan Senate.
     A tip of the hat to Senators Kahn, Pappageorge of Oakland County, Richardville, and Jansen.  When the dust clears next year, they will be the only four GOP senators standing after term limits wipes out the rest of the Republican senate contingency.  Thirty senators, including democrats, and their expertise will be out the door.  Incredible.
    The gang of four some six months ago decided to talk about how the senate should be run especially in terms of leadership and the power now held by the Majority Leader.
    While the talks are still a "work in progress" they are considering removing some of that absolute authority and "spreading it around" to another senator or senators.
    The Senate leader has unprecidented power to select committee chairs, committee members, which senators get how many staffers, who gets what to spend, how many can go on junkets and that's just the tip of the power iceberg.
     The current concentration of authority in one person brings to mind the old adage "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
     The current thinking of this long range planning group is that maybe money and budget issues would be handled by one lawmaker and the policy issues by another.
      In addition, a source indicates the group wants to avoid another political bloodbath that occurred the last time the GOP selected a new leader.
    Oakland County Senator Mike Bishop emerged the victor but the battle scares still fester three years after the fact. 
   Part, but not the whole reason for a deeper look at this power arrangement is the performance and problems of Mr. Bishop whose tenure has caused consternation inside and outside of the GOP caucus from time to time.  Each leader over the years has suffered with that.
    Whatever the outcome, congrats to all four senators for having the good sense to at least have this long-term discussion.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Don't Smok'em If You've Got'em

   God bless'em.  They are a vital part of our democracy and we should admire them for their passion, but let's be honest, after awhile the notion that "government has no business sticking its nose into my business" begins to wear a little thin.
   If this crowd had its way there would be no stop lights, no seat belts, no ban on text messaging and more recently, no newly enacted ban on smoking in public places.
   Yes smokers have rights, but not the right to "murder" anyone with their second hand smoke…so goes the argument from the other side.
   There are times when government should play a role and 70% of the folks in this here state are in effect telling the "keep your nose out of my business" crowd to stuff it.  Last time anyone checked, the majority rules although these folks favor minority rule because they know they are right.
   Michigan now joins the ranks of 38 other states with a ban on smoking with the exception of the three Detroit casinos. The anti-tobacco lobby didn't like it, but sucked it in for fear of ending up with nada.
    The "nose" folks should actually be rejoicing because they are also the same folks who whine on about sending too much of their hard earned moola to Lansing.  This ban will save them money.
   If secondary smoke is reduced, then the medical costs for those who get sick from it, will go down thus placing less strain on an already skyrocketing health care system.
   It is cheaper to plop a "No Smoking" sign in a bar than it is too keep someone alive on a respirator.
   Oops.  Sorry.  That's a bit of logic which is a no-no for the "nose" brigade.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Governor "About Face"

   He could have tagged her with a flip-flop charge but instead he took it down a notch and just accused her of "an about-face."  Either way the GOP leader in the Michigan House Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer was critical of Gov. Jennifer Granholm for announcing a pause on a $127 cut for every school kid in Michigan.
   Out of the blue, the governor called in the capitol press corps to announce the state had discovered some new revenue. That allows her to raise the hopes of school leaders that next January that $127 cut can itself be cut to a lower figure but there is no guarantee.
   Ever since she announced a projected $292 per pupil cut months ago, the republicans have criticized her for going around the state to "reve-up support for a tax hike" which Elsenheimer now dismisses as "sky-falling rhetoric" that was somehow not based in reality. He charged her with "playing politics with our school kids."
   She wouldn't dare.
   Ms. Granholm was asked about the appearance of a flip-flop.  After all she did announce cuts and is now saying some of them may not be necessary.
   "This is not about me," she protested, "this is about the schools" and the data is "based on the numbers."
    On this one she deserves the benefit of the doubt,  Mr. Elsenheimer's opinion not withstanding.
    It's highly unlikely that her state treasurer and state budget director would be co-conspirators in cooking-up money they didn't know would be there.
    Bob Kleine and Bob Emerson were as surprised as anyone to see the windfall, but they and the governor were up front with the school community noting that come January the $127 cut may stand or it could be reduced.
    It's temporary good news for schools that may be able to avoid some layoffs,  but it's like being on death row and getting a temporary repreive from the governor and knowing that it could be reinstated at anytime. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Go Green-Go Blue

    If you've lived in this state longer than a half hour you already know that the rivalry between a certain school in A2 and the other one in East Lansing is not confined to the gridiron, basketball court or hockey rink.
    It even plays out in far away places such as Disney World.
    You know how that game is played:  You walk by someone with an obnoxious MICHIGAN printed across the front of a sweatshirt and shout, "Go Green."  And the Mee-she-gan loyalists return the favor with a "Go Blue" when they encounter an MSU shirt.
    It's all good fun, but alas, the State of Michigan is in such lousy shape that during a recent sojourn to visit Snow White and her seven height-challenged friends, it produced only one exchange and the three year old kid from a U of M household, didn't get it.
    Which only goes to underscore an emerging reality of life i.e. lots of Michigan and Michigan State folks are sticking around these parts which is why the state tourism industry has gone epileptic over a move in the legislature to abolish one of its scared cows.
    For decades the tourist guys fought for and finally got a declaration that schools would not open until after Labor Day.  The schools, of course, objected over the loss of local control, but when it comes to making money, legislators concluded the hotel and motel crowd could make more if the kids were in the car with mom and dad and not in the classroom.
    Now comes the Barack Obama administration trying to assert that local schools should have the authority to set their own academic calendar as part of the so-called Race to the Top reform package.  How dare he elevate the educatioin of children over making money.
    And with $400 million federal dollars dangling in front of their faces, lawmakers may eliminate the Labor Day law but not without a good fight from the other side.
    In fact the battle between the tourism folks and the legislature may rival the one between you-know-who and you-know-who. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Pay to Play

    There's a little fussin' and fuedin' unceremoniously unfolding in the state GOP concerning so-called Pay to Play Straw Polls.
    Here's how that nifty little game works.  A candidate running for this office or that, tries to influence the outcome of a straw poll by making sure his or her supporters show up to vote.  And to make sure they do appear, sometimes financial considerations come into play which amounts to backdoor pay.
   For example, GOP candidate for governor Rick Snyder won a straw poll by offering free transportation, room and board, and other considerations for those who agreed to vote for him.
   Attorney General candidate Bill Schuette recently defeated his GOP challenger Sen. Mike Bishop, 360 to 247 in another straw poll which prompted the Oakland County Senator to not only dennounce the poll but Bishop promised to stop participating in future polls.
   Than Secretary of State candidate Anne Norlander, the Calhoun County Clerk issued a self-righteous news release blasting the "Pay to Play" concept as a "fundraising activity (that) goes counter to everything I believe in (and) I can no longer participate in "Pay to Play" voting fundraiser's."
    And in case you missed her indignation she tacked on, "This is counter to one person one vote and defies everything we believe in as Republicans" concerning the "integrity of the ballot."
    She called on other Republicans to join her in renouncing the process.  It's likely that the statewide candidates who don't have a ton of money to spread around will join her and the ones who do have a ton won't. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Going In For The Kill

    If we placed Gov. Jennifer Granholm's DNA under a microscope you would find a gene for empathy, warmth, gregariousness, pant suits, but never a killer instinct.  She doesn't have it, doesn't want it, but from time to time, she could use it.
    Case in point is her lobbying effort to restore the Promise Grant of $4,000 for higher education students.  It's became a cause celebre for her as she spent the last two weeks visiting all the major college campuses in the state.
    "Call your local legislator. Tell them you want the money restored.  Please make your voice heard," she repeats and repeats as the college kids skip class to hear her pleadings.
      It's the kind of feel good, make democracy work message that Granholm loves to deliver and she does it with some passion but not enough.
      If she possessed the killer gene, she would call out the GOP senators who are blocking the restoration. Oh sure she tip toes up to the line saying, "You hired these lawmakers and you can fire them" but who are the "them?"  She never mentions any names, nor does she give out email addresses or phone numbers.  She assumes that the college kids, given a good dose of "go-out-and-get'em gang" will go out and get'em.
      Silly governor.
      The no-so bright college kid may ask, "Who is my senator anyway? Do I have a representative?  How do I call Congress?"  (Sorry kid, Congress is in Washington.  The thing in Lansing is the legislature.)  You get the point, the typical college kid don't (sic) know squat about how to contact anyone other than their parents for more money to stay in school.
      "Killer" Granholm could put the names and numbers of Mike Bishop, Ron Jelinek, Valde Garcia, Wayne Kuipers, etc. etc on the screen in front of the kids.  "Write down these numbers," she could lecture them but chooses not to do it.
       It is bad form to call out senators by name and after all she has to work with these guys.  (However she did name names with phone numbers in a more private medium..a letter to thousands of college kids.  Good marks for doing at least that.)
       There is an old saying in politics, sometimes to get the donkey's attention, or in this case the elephant's, you have to whack it on the head with a two-by-four.  Apparently she does not own.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tear Down That Wall

   Michigan pollsters have been losing money for years because one of the time honored questions that was also asked was what is the voter's top priority?  For the last eight years, no one has had to purchase that question because everyone knew the answer:  The economy stupid.
   Now comes the governor who may have, unknowingly, produced a sea change of note.  The economy has been replaced by education.
   Remember this is the governor, hat in hand, who has gone to what seems like every little dinky school district in the state urging the locals to get in the game.  She's pleaded with them to call their local legislator and demand new revenue so that school kids don't get hit on the head with a $292 per child loss in state aid.
    Apparently somebody is listening as the latest EPIC-MRA survey conducted for TV-7 news and the Detroit News shows schools are now number one.
    So what?
    That's the right question, because that does not mean senate republicans are listening even though their emails and phones are suggesting they should.
     There's been no crack in the anti-revenue wall that GOP leader Mike Bishop and friends have errected despite the pleading from the governor and the school community to tear down that wall.
     For weeks there have been a handful of GOP senators sympathetic to the new revenue pitch with the governor being careful to point out she is not asking for a general tax hike. 
     But the "sympathy" has not produced any yes votes and now it is crunch time.  The holidays are calling and lawmakers, never bashful about submitting to the siren sound of time off, show no signs of cracking the anti-revenue wall over the next two weeks. In fact schools are likely to take the $292 hit now and hope for new revenue next February.
     Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This Will Get Their Attention

   School administrators across the state are in a deep holiday funk.  Instead of decorating the school, they are dismantling it instead.
   With a hefty $292 per pupil cut starring them in the face, they are forced to do one of two things:  Dip into their rainy day fund to restore the cuts, or start slashing here and there to balance the books.
   It's the "here and there" that is getting all the attention and here's a sure fire way to balance the books: Eliminate school buses and athletics.
   That giant clunk you just heard was from administrators falling off their chairs.
   Eliminating transportation and high school sports would get the parents to lobby Lansing for more money, but it's a risky strategy due to school's of choice.
    S of C was invented years ago on the Gov. John Engler watch and gave parents the power to move their kids all over the state.  If they were stuck in district B that was lousy, they were free to move their kids to district C if there was room.
    Thus was born "competition in the school market place" which is impacting the decisions that superintendent's are making right now regarding budget cuts.
    As one insider lamented the other day, "If I cut sports, all my parents will move their kids to some school that doesn't."
    It's a valid point.  That would only plummet the district deeper debt as about $7,000 walks out the door for every kid that skedaddles somewhere else.
    At a recent education conference, the keynote speaker suggested if the assembled administrators had any guts, they would cut out sports and the hoots and hollers were deafening.
    "Friday night football is a social event in our town."
     "Sports is the reason some kids stay in school."
     "I'd like to keep my job…and life."
      The laments were serious, but if we are serious about reducing the cost of education, which is more important: preserving what goes on in the classroom or the gridiron?
      Yeah, in Michigan we unfortunately know the answer to that.