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, June 30, 2010

Name Names

It's a straight-forward inquiry but you should have seen them squirm.
List all the candidates running for governor?
Out on the rubber chicken circuit, the audience is asked to write down
all those names and time and time again, the bulk can't name all seven.
In fact you are probably thinking right now, could I?
With the August 3 primary inching closer, it's probably about time
that you get in the game and at least get to know the names of the
candidates. The next assignment is to find out who they are and what
do they stand for. But first things first.
At a recent conference, thirty-nine attendees were asked to list
the names. You could hear the moaning and groaning as they struggled.
And they should have been embarrassed because one of the basic precepts
of participating in the democracy is to at least know the names of
those who are running.
Ten-percent could only name one candidate and each time it was Rick
Snyder. TV advertising does have its advantages.
Six of the participants could list four of the candidates. Mike Cox
was known by all of them. Pete Hoekstra got five as did Snyder. Mike
Bouchard received four. Democrat Andy Dillon checked in with three and
his opponent Virg Bernero got one. Tom George got zero.
Oakland County Senator Mike Bishop got one but he's not running for
governor. Major points off for that.
33% turned out to be well informed as they remembered all seven
names. In most groups, the number is less.
But here's the sorry conclusion to all this: The overwhelming
majority of voters won't bother to learn the names, because the
overwhelming majority won't vote on August 3 anyway.
If the state is lucky, under one million "citizens" will show up at
the polls. That means about five million others will head for the
beach, the ballpark, or work and not even feel guilty about sitting
this one out.
If you told those folks they will lose their right to vote if they
don't use it, they'd go nuts.
It's not a bad idea.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I Will Survive

They showed up 5,000 strong but it's unlikely the teacher's
demonstration did much to change the dynamics inside the capitol as
lawmakers continue to haggle over spending on schools..or lack of
spending as the teacher/protestors shouted on the capitol lawn last
One by one the special interest groups have marched up to the
capitol in the time-honored tradition of demanding more from
legislators for this program or that.
The members of the Michigan Education Association will only the
latest to demand that lawmakers "stop cutting our benefits" and
"provide a stable funding source for schools."
MEA leaders complained about the double message that lawmakers
send: When they are running for office, they label education their top
proririty, but once they arrive in Lansing, some run for cover when the
teachers demand more bucks.
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and the MEA endorsed candidate for
governor made that very point. He wondered out loud and sarcastically
that maybe there was something in the water that flowed into the
capitol that resulted in lawmakers losing their way when it comes to
supporting the schools.
While the protestors waved their "Enough is Enough" placards and
danced to the disco ditty "I Will Survive", Sen. Mike Bishop and his
GOP buddies were holding fast to the "no revenue increases" for anybody
including the singing teachers outdoors.
In fact Bishop contends, "For anybody to come up here and suggest
that we don't prioritize the school community, that is outrageous."
Then he added since the passage of Proposal A, the schools have
benefited from "$5 billion in state support" and the current budget he
says will hold the schools harmless while other state programs are
His advice to the teachers, who won't like this one iota, is to
take what they have and "get out of Dodge quick."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Today Detroit-Tomorrow the Whole State

If they can do it in California, why not right here?
Talk to Tim Beck head of the Coalition for a Safer Detroit and
he'll make the argument that legalized marijuana on the Gold Coast has
earned the governator there about $2 billion bucks and if Michigan did
the same, at least $200 million could flow into statewide coffers.
You just knew this was coming. When Michigan voters gave a green
light to using marijuana for medical purposes, it was only a matter of
seconds before the pro-grass folks tried to move the ball down the
It is starting in Detroit where the Motown Marijuana ballot plan
will likely appear in November for local folks to decide. It's not a
total decriminalization per se, according to Mr. Beck, but it's darn
If the local election board signs off, and voters say yes, 21-year
old adults could legally posses an ounce or less of grass on private
property and the cops could do nothing about it.
Beck admits that his strategy is Detroit today, the entire state
"That's what we would like," he tells the crew on the Public TV
series, Off the Record.
Beck is armed with some stats on the cost of arresting 1500 folks
who got caught with a little Mary Jane. He asserts it cost $350 an
hour to cram them through the criminal justice system at a cost of $2.6
million…money Beck figures could be used to nab real crooks.
All this sounds dandy, but the anti-grass folks are not high on the
What about the slippery slop? Grass today, legalized coke tomorrow.
And what happens when all those "smokers" get behind the wheel, or rob
a bank or trash your home?
While the majority of voters signed-off on fighting medical pain
with grass, even Beck concedes this next step has only a 50-50 cance
right now.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


ATM international credit settlement
Office of the director of operation
Office of the presidency
Attention Honorable Beneficiary
This is to officially notify you that we have verified your contract Inheritances file and found out that why you have not received your payment is because you have not fulfilled the obligations given to you in respect of your contract/inheritance payment.
Secondly, we have been informed that you are still dealing with the none officials in the bank, all your attempt to secure the release of the fund to you. We wish to advise you that such an illegal act like this have to stop if you wish to receive your payment since we have decided to bring a solution to your problem. Right now we have arranged your payment through our swift card payment center Asia pacific that is the latest instruction FROM MR. PRESIDENT,GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN (GCFR) PRESIDENT FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AND FEDERAL MINISTRY OF FINANCE.
This card center will send you an ATM card which you will use to withdraw your money in any ATM machine in any part of the world, but the maximum is three thousand five hundred dollars per day, so if you like to receive your fund this way please let us know by contacting the card payment center and also send the following information to her in order to proceed immediately:
1. Full name
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3. Address were you want them to send
The ATM card to (P.O box not acceptable)
4. Your age and current occupation
5. A copy of your identification
However, kindly find below the contact person:
Mrs. Stephanie Andrew 
Director, ATM payment department
Telephone: +2347036524697 
The ATM card payment center has been mandated to issue out ($8,300,000.00) as part payment for this fiscal year 2010. Also for your Information, you have to stop any further communication with any other person(s)or office(s) to avoid any hitches in receiving your at payment. For oral discussion, i can be reached on or email me back as soon as you receive this important message for further direction and also update me on any development from the above mentioned office.
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Best Regards,
Dr. Ikenna Abuchi
Chief Auditor To the President
Federal Republic Of Nigeria

Friday, June 25, 2010

Paper Trails Are Dangerous

One of the biggest liabilities a politician can have is a paper
trail which opponents can follow until they find something to exploit
for their own political gain.
GOP candidate for Attorney General Bill Schuette has trails all
over the joint and not all of them are Happy Trails if you remember the
old Roy Rogers theme song.
The Midland Republican has a ton of votes he cast in Congress and
a bunch when he was a state senator and take this to the bank, it's
only a matter of time before Mike Bishop, who also wants to be A.G.,
uses some of this stuff in an attempt to deny Schuette the nomination.
This one would be on the top of any list: Schuette supported the
largest salary increase every granted to Michigan lawmakers and this
came when Schuette was one.
The headlines were all over the state: Michigan Senate refuses to
vote to reject a 36% pay boost, and according to the Ludington Daily
News, Schuette supported the raise.
Unless somebody doctored the newspaper, Schuette is said to have
seen the hefty raise as a means to "make sure qualified candidates will
interrupt private careers to run for office." He did favor reviewing
the manner in which the salaries were set.
To this day, citizens still remember the 36% pay hike even though
it is a ten-year old story.
Now you might ask what does this have to do with being Attorney
General? On the surface the answer is nothing, but go beneath the
surface and you can see how Bishop could exploit this in a GOP
convention. In that convention will be all sorts of folks who think
government is too big, that lawmakers make too much money and anybody
who supported that raise might be in deep you know what.
The issue is ripe for plucking and betya Mr. Bishop knows how to

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gaffney's Neck Exposed

How much political weight is tossed around by the labor unions in
Michigan? To be sure this is not your daddy's blue collar union when
union bosses really were bosses and when they bellowed, "Jump", the
rank and file leaped.
The labor movement has been on a Jenny Craig diet for years with
declining membership and with fewer members making less money, the
political cupboards of the state AFL-CIO may not not be bare but some
of the shelves have collected some dust.
Which brings us to one Mark Gaffney who runs the union of 450,000
current members and about the same amount of retirees, assuming most of
them have not shuffled off to Florida.
The affable Mr. Gaffney's neck is on the block and by November
third we will know whether someone will use an axe.
After basking in the glow of the 2008 election that promised
"change and hope," President Gaffney is hoping to rekindle that same
passion that union members had for Barack Obama and re channel it into
a vote for Virg Bernero for governor.
Gaffney thinks the two are comparable.
"We have to instill the same excitement in our membership that was
there in 2008…It's not there yet…(and) Virg Bernero, when you think
about it, is the most like Barack Obama in 2008," he asserts.
But currently union households have not linked the two and the
passion Gaffney hopes to stir up is but a gleam in his eye. In fact in
the latest poll, most of the union vote goes for the guy Gaffney would
give his right, well let's just say his right arm to defeat, namely
House Democratic Speaker Andy Dillon.
"Those folks will reverse,' Gaffney boldly predicts with all his
fingers and toes crossed.
Here's his challenge regarding the mood of union folks.
Two things are winning Gaffney concedes, "anger and
disillusionment in the (political) process and "the danger (dum de dum
dump) is that could lead to apathy. That's every politician's
nightmare" and every union boss as well.
Which is why Gaffney and company have embarked on an aggressive
campaign to motivate the union members to get in the game. They will
be inundated with robo calls, worker to worker pep talks at and away
from work, a 167,000 literature drop is headed for the post office with
more to follow and coming to a door near you soon, somebody to convince
you to vote for Virg.
At the end of the election day, everyone will know if President
Gaffney and his labor movement are champs or the new 90 pound weakling
on the Michigan political beach.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Snyder Slight of Hand

It's the kind of stunt you would expect a career politician to
attempt, but certainly not a candidate who portrays himself as anything
but a career pol.
"The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce endorsed Rick Snyder for
Governor," the Snyder news release proudly announces. The statement is
true but not the whole truth.
Shame on the Rick Snyder crew for attempting one of the oldest
political tricks in the books i.e. telling a half truth with the intent
of misleading the voters.
The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce endorsed two other
candidates besides Snyder including GOP contender Mike Bouchard and
Democrat Andy Dillon.
Ah but when the inevitable news release came out from the Snyder
camp, it read, "I'm proud to have the endorsement," etc. etc. but nary
a word about sharing it with two other guys.
Bouchard did the same thing, but you'd expect that from him. A
career politician would lose his standing as such if he shared the
spotlight with anyone else.
The sheriff did run a quote from the chamber referencing the
"candidates" the group had endorsed, but the unsuspecting reader has no
idea if that mean other "candidates" for governor or other offices and
Bouchard was not about to clear that up for you, just like the sneaky
Mr. Snyder.
Speaker Dillon committed the same "half truth" miscue when he
revealed the chamber decision. too.
Snyder muffed a chance to "prove" that he talks the talk and walks
the non-politician walk by adding a sentence to his news release. He
could have taken the high road and said, "I'm also proud to share the
endorsement with two of my opponents."
Or if that is too much, he could have also said, "Two other
candidates also got the chamber's endorsement."
Either way he would have been given mucho points for acting like a
non-politician which he claims so often to be.
And to add even more insult to this sorry episode, another career
politician actually did tell the whole truth. In announcing his
endorsement from the Lansing Chamber of Commerce Lansing Mayor Virg
Bernero did disclose that GOP candidate Pete Hoekstra also got the
group's endorsement.
A shout out to the mayor and regarding Mr. Snyder, who would have
you believe that he is a breath of fresh air, turns out his political
"breath", in this instance, is as bad as everyone else's.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Marines vs. Kwame

The Marines have landed... smack dab in the middle of the GOP race
for governor.
GOP contender Mike Cox has never been bashful about revealing he
served in the Marines. Now it is front and center on a TV screen near
The timing is interesting in that the TV spot follows by one week
the launch of an anit-Cox radio commercial. It seeks to smudge the Cox
image by suggesting some alleged wrongdoing involving the story that
refuses to go away.
"You've heard about the party at the Manoogian Mansion. The one
that Attorney General Mike Cox says never happened?" And then the
radio spot launches into a statement from the police dispatcher who
claims she sent scout cars to the party and the next day the records
were gone. She has had trouble however remember the dates and took
seven years to come forward.
When reporters showed up for a briefing on the latest Cox ad,
they half expected to see a Cox defense of the "party" story. Instead
they got the Marines.
Campaign manager Stu Sandler refused to acknowledge the
exisistence of a "party" rebuttal which many felt was going to be
unleashed last week but then scrubbed.
"We are happy with the Marine ad," Sandler put on a smiley face
while fending off Kilpatrick questions from the gaggle of reporters.
Remember even Mr. Cox has observed that this is like "gun on my
shoe" but a GOP consultant is not so sure the Marines can kill the gum.
"I think at the end of the day, this "gum on the shoe" is going to
continue to stick and he's (Cox) going to have to deal with it head
on…You gotta un stick that gum at some point," Bill Rustum argues.
But the un sticking may have to wait for another day.
So far Cox is coming back in the polls and even eeked out a
two-point lead over the former front runner Pete Hoekstra so if there
is a "Kwame" factor it is not sending the Cox numbers into the dumper.
"We've had a couple of good weeks," reflects Mr. Sandler as he
and his boss are hoping that sending in the Marines will stretch that
out even more.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Term Limit Re-Do

Many of the players in this town, from the governor on down regret
the day they did it. They supported the nation's most restrictive term
limit law and now they see the miscalculation they made.
"Worse mistake I ever made," the governor confesses and she's got
plenty of company.
The democratic chair of the House Judiciary committee which is
considering a plan to extend term limits, used the same line but this
mea culpa is not confined to Democrats. It is bi-partisan.
Take Gop Rep. Rick Jones who is about as conservative as it gets.
"Term limits are too short. Six years is simply too short," he
observes with six years of experience under his belt in the Michigan
Rep. Eileen Kowal, and other GOP conservative from Oakland County
also sees the errors of her ways. "Experience and knowledge are
valuable," the first termer concludes.
And on the list goes.
Rep. Joe Haveman, yet another Republican right-winger from Holland.
Yes he was a yes vote in 1992 but now says, term limits is a "mistake
and in its present form it has not served the public well."
Tell that to the public where the majority of folks figure terms
limits is working just grand, thank you very much.
"I know they (feel that way)" confesses third termer Rep. Pam
Byrnes (D-Chelsea). But "I don't think they really understand the
implication of constantly changing who is running their government."
She is spot on, but term limit backers dismiss such sentiment as
self-serving and to be expected from career politicians who are about
as popular these days as the guy who offered Tom Izzo thirty million
smackers to leave MSU!
And there in lies the challenge. Even though there are the votes
on the committee to send the term limit revision to the house floor, is
there the political will…no, make it political guts, to take on the
majority of voters and basically tell them they are wrong?
In an election year, the chances of that are slim and none and
Slim just left town.
Term limits are here to stay. Too bad all the folks who have
changed their minds didn't think of that when they voted in the first

Friday, June 18, 2010

Christmas in June

As everyone suffered through the long and torturous winter, at
least Michiganians could cling to the hope that eventually the cold
would give way to the warmth.
So much for that. Everyone is now worried that we may go through
another "alleged summer" with lousy weather with sunshine every tenth
day whether we want it or not.
Hence when this news release came out the other day, it was
neither timely nor welcomed: State Accepting Nominations for 2010
Christmas Tree!"
Egads. Say it isn't so. Normally any journalist worth his or her
salt wants to know everything going on in state government. But
"uncle" already on this Christmas tree stuff! Do we really need a
reminder that erecting the state Christmas tree is only 145 days away?
Talk about your insensitive bureaucrats.
We don't need to know that only spruce or fir trees are eligible
or that they must be a minimum of 65 feet tall with a maximum crown of
30 feet and a trunk diameter of 30 inches.
You didn't have to tell us that the tree must have easy access
from the road with no interference from wires and that the state won't
pay one red cent for the tree.
If it was essential to get this info out, the general public did
not have to be in on the story. Just ship the press release to the
Timber Professionals Association and let them hunt for the darn thing.
Summer is not even here and state bureaucrats are worried about
the Christmas tree. Come on. Have a little mercy.
Next thing you know they will be praying for snow…which everyone
in Michigan knows could happen as everyone sets off their illegal
fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Long Live King Izzo

In reality it was a nice diversion. Instead of worrying about
legislative foot dragging on the budget; instead of pondering the
legacy of the soon to be ex-governor, for nine days the state focused
on a story that was not life or death but at times it seemed it was.
Long live King Izzo.
It says so much about us as a state to have been captivated by this
"would he or would he not leave us" saga.
Ironically the word from the sports mountain top came within
minutes of a Presidential address on nationwide TV. One almost expected
that Mr. Obama might begin his message on the Gulf Oil spill with a
"This bulletin just in: Tom Izzo is not going to the NBA."
Nobody around these part would have given it a second thought.
Given a choice between basketballs and oil balls on a beach somewhere,
we know where the bulk of Michiganians stood. Minus, of course, those
in Ann Arbor who could give a hoot.
Sports always trumps reality in our state.
Look at the most read stories in the major newspapers. If its not
the Lions latest draft pick or the Tigers latest winning streak, its
who the Wings will pick up in the off-season. All that stuff about
budget struggles in Lansing? Collectively, we could care less.
A psychologist would have a field day if he or she could put the
entire state on the couch.
So, tell me about your fixation on sports. Did it start with your
mother not allowing you to play baseball?
Regardless of how we got to where we are, we are here and the Izzo
story was merely exhibit 1,235 in a long list of other events that drew
us together.
The only question is, when the Izzo fix wears off, what's next?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chuck the Brain-Buckets

You got the sense that the movement had lost some of its umpph.
Sure there were several hundred bikers demanding that the state lift
the mandatory brain-bucket law but the numbers were not anywhere near
what they use to be over the 34 year span of this ride to the capitol
"Some of them were afraid of the rain,' observed one of the rally
leaders who noticed the small turn-out too. It rang hollow as this
group ain't (sic) afraid of nothin' let alone a little moisture on
their covered heads.
Whether you agree with these guys or not, you do have to pat them
on the head for coming back year after year with nothing to show for
it. They have managed to pass legislation in one house or the other to
remove the motorcycle helmet law, but this current governor has always
threatened to veto. In other words they are zero for 34 years.
Credit the highway safety lobby, the insurance companies and others
for defeating this move claiming lives will be lost if the helmets come
"The statistics don't support that in the thirty some other states
that don't have a helmet law," contends Vince Consiglio of Milford who
is one of the stalwarts whose been here plenty of times.
But hope does spring eternal and Herb Rials who lobby's for ABATE
claims to have the support of every candidate for governor minus one.
So if the house and senate next year kill the helmet law, chances are
pretty good, a governor's signature, not a veto, will be attached to
the measure.
However if the Nerd gets in, it could be more of the same for the
motorcycle crowd. Rich Snyder apparently wants to keep the helmets
right where they are..on the heads of those who don't like it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

GOP Steals From School Kids

Mention the word "surplus" in this town and the joint goes nuts. In
these awful economic times, the word has all but been expunged from the
lexicon of every legislator around.
But alas there is about a $400 million surplus in the fund that
goes for educating our children i.e. the K-12 school aid fund. And the
GOP long knives are out to use it, pronto.
Hold the phone. Aren't the Republicans the ones who always argue
against spending as they normally berate the Democrats for going after
every penny in sight?
The word Republican goes hand in hand with fiscal conservatives,
but on this issue, it's the GOP that wants to raid the surplus and it's
the D's who have their finger in the surplus dyke.
'Splain, please.
The education lobby and democrats argue the extra money should be
put in a lock box, thank you Al Gore, for the rainy day that is due
next year. Spend it now and when it starts to pour, the money won't be
How fiscally conservative can you get, yet the R's claim shifting
the surplus to higher education is the right move. In fact the
powerful chair of the senate budget panel says it is an "absolutely
necessary policy."
"It's wrong. We should not steal from our children who are the
future of Michigan," complains East Lansing Democrat Sen. Gretchen
Whitmer with two little girls at home.
"It's a bad message," echoes Pontiac Democrat Rep. Tim Melton who
thinks the GOP is playing games.
By law the Republicans can not move the surplus into the state's
general fund because the money is earmarked for education. Ah, but.
They can shift it to the higher education budget and then withdraw the
money from that budget to balance the General Fund.
Melton says, "Slight of hand. Maybe."
Look it. The GOP does not want to raise taxes, yet it knows there
is a hole in this years budget and it does not want to cut more
services. Hence, take the money from the surplus and through the back
door, pour that into the budget deficit and presto change-o, the budget
is balanced.
Pretty nifty…and sneaky to boot.
It's yet another election year example of how the Republicans
will do anything to avoid raising new revenue for vital state services,
even if it means stealing it from the mouths of K-12 kids.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Playing Sgt. Schultz

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Mon, Jun 14, 2010 10:08 am

This defies political logic. They teach you when you opponent is
trouble, stomp on him or her.
You have a GOP candidate for Attorney General under attack by the
chair of the state Democratic Party over his position on slant drilling
in the Great Lakes. And the GOP candidate's opponent wants nothing to
do with the story.
Say what?
"I can honestly say I have not read a single thing about it. I
have no interest…This is opportunistic electioneering," observes Mike
Bishop who is in a battle with Bill Schuette for the GOP A.G. nod.
Democratic chair Mark Brewer is doing what he does best. He
a nerve and like a dentist who refuses to use a pain-killer, he is
drilling Schuette over his original vote to allow slant drilling in
Michigan waters.
Never mind that Schuette says he later changed his mind and now
supports a total ban on oil and gas exploration. Brewer won't let go
and Bishop, from the sidelines, is saying he wants no part of the story.
Would you not think that Bishop, who is considered to be in third
in a two-man race, would be start piling on?
Not the Oakland County Republican who confesses, "I don't know
what his response is. He'll have to deal with it on his own."
Maybe it's a crafty strategy to stay out of it and let Brewer do
all the heavy lifting. Then Bishop can take the high road, which
voters like, yet he knows that if the attacks continue, Schuette could
be wounded. And by the time he shows up at the state party convention
this summer where the Attorney General nomination will be decided,
Bishop can waltz in and then reap the benefits.
It's the best of both worlds for Mr. B. He can play Sgt.
i.e. "I know nothing" yet reap the benefits of the fisticuffs between
his opponent and Brewer.

This defies political logic. They teach you when you opponent is in
trouble, stomp on him or her.
You have a GOP candidate for Attorney General under attack by the
chair of the state Democratic Party over his position on slant drilling
in the Great Lakes. And the GOP candidate's opponent wants nothing to
do with the story.
Say what?
"I can honestly say I have not read a single thing about it. I
have no interest…This is opportunistic electioneering," observes Mike
Bishop who is in a battle with Bill Schuette for the GOP A.G. nod.
Democratic chair Mark Brewer is doing what he does best. He finds
a nerve and like a dentist who refuses to use a pain-killer, he is
drilling Schuette over his original vote to allow slant drilling in
Michigan waters.
Never mind that Schuette says he later changed his mind and now
supports a total ban on oil and gas exploration. Brewer won't let go
and Bishop, from the sidelines, is saying he wants no part of the story.
Would you not think that Bishop, who is considered to be in third
in a two-man race, would be start piling on?
Not the Oakland County Republican who confesses, "I don't know
what his response is. He'll have to deal with it on his own."
Maybe it's a crafty strategy to stay out of it and let Brewer do
all the heavy lifting. Then Bishop can take the high road, which
voters like, yet he knows that if the attacks continue, Schuette could
be wounded. And by the time he shows up at the state party convention
this summer where the Attorney General nomination will be decided,
Bishop can waltz in and then reap the benefits.
It's the best of both worlds for Mr. B. He can play Sgt. Schultz
i.e. "I know nothing" yet reap the benefits of the fisticuffs between
his opponent and Brewer.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What Will They Think Of Next?

As the old song goes, "Little Things Mean A Lot." So it was
interesting the other day when a bunch of senior citizens showed up on
the capitol lawn sporting a brand new banner with one little word
For years the old banner simply read: "Senior Power Day." But this
new banner made no reference to seniors. The word was gone, caput,
which prompted this question: If "senior" is out what the heck is in?
"Older adults."
You gotta be kidding?
How could we have missed that memo?
Sharon Gire, who runs the State Office on Aging, was eager to
Somewhere along the road to getting older, it was determined that
"Senior Citizen" had a stigma. Gire says it is not negative, but if it
was not negative why is it out, and older adult is in?
She sights one example of the 70 year-old guy she was dealing with
who had just lost his spouse. Being the warm and caring person that she
is, Gire offered up the services and travel opportunities at the local
Senior Citizen Center.
The 70-something took offense. "I'm not going there with all
those old people."
Good for him but bad for us.
Now we have to undo years of using the senior citizen tag for fear
that some older adult may take offense.
And to make matters worse, when do we start to use that new
nomenclature? If you believe the good folks over at AARP, they start
sending you senior citizen crap at the tender age of 55. And if folks
keeping dying off, to bolster their ranks, they might revise the age
down to 45 just to attract more paying customers.
So be forewarned. Next time you help a little old lady across the
street, don't call her a senior or she may not only hit you with your
purse ala Ruth Buzzy from Laugh-in, but she could toss you into the
path of the oncoming car for good measure.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Endorsement Scorecard

Years ago a political endorsement from some big mucky-mucky carried
some muscle. When UAW head Walter Ruether roared out an order to vote
for this guy or that guy, the poor schulb on the line got in line…or
Oh my. Those days are long gone. Former UAW President Doug Fraser
was aghast when his rank and file picked George
"Don't-Call-Me-A-Racist" Wallace during a Michigan Presidential Primary
way back in th 70's.
So why all the hub bub about the recent spat of endorsements in the
race for governor.
Pete Hoekstra picked up an important Macomb County amigo in the form
of Congresswomen Candice Miller and earlier he snagged the Newtster,
former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. And that came after Mitt
Romney's blessing, too.
But out of left field comes Mike Cox who opened a lot of eyes in
this town when the Michigan Chamber of Commerce picked him. To say it
was a surprise is grand understatement.
There were "real" biz guys in contention other than the Attorney
General. After all Hoekstra use to work at Herman Miller furniture and
Rick Snyder is an even "realer" business guy.
So what gives at the chamber?
First non-career politician Snyder refused to fill out the "job
application" for the Chamber which meant he would not even be
Hoekstra on the other hand was considered and rejected because in
part his performance in front of a 13 member screening committee "was
not his best" confides a would be supporter. But another source in the
room reports Hoekstra gave a sterling performance.
Conversely, Cox was on his game and dazzled everyone including
knowing the names of everyone around the table.
And on the same day, Cox also nailed the blessing and maybe some of
the moola of Dick and Betsy DeVos. It was a nice two-fer and it may
have influenced the Chamber vote?
Callers wanted to know why Hoeskstra was stiffed by his fellow West
Michiganians? Let's just say he doesn't travel in the same rich
circles as D and B and long time buds they have never been.
Translated, he was never in the running.
So does all this matter?
In a GOP primary with five candidates it does. In a general
election, where the voting pool is more crowded, not so much.
Tne next big enchilada to drop will be Michigan Right to Life and
some believe the fix is in for Cox to nab that, too.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mr. Obnoxious

Give the guy some credit for being smart enough to know he could
have done better.
Of all the candidates who could have had a lack luster debate
performance, you would not expect Virg Bernero to be one of them, but
yet, by his own admission his recent showing in a history making debate
on Mackinac Island "wasn't my best."
The Lansing Mayor, while owning up to how he debated, fingered the
format as the culprit. It did not have enough structure he complained.
With six other contenders hogging the stage and elbowing for
microphone time, somehow the scrappy mayor, who thrives on
confrontation and in-your-face politics, found himself trying to get a
word in edge-wise.
"The venue was tough," he reflected on a WILS-radio broadcast in
Lansing. "I was fighting for space and fighting for time…It is not
When he finally got his chance, Bernero was hyper, a tad preachy,
and often confrontational which is not necessarily a bad thing. But
when the dust settled, Bernero concluded, "I came off as kind of
Those who have followed him for years would go, "Yeah. So what's
so new 'bout that?"
Being obnoxious is part of his charm and certainly part of being
the Angriest Mayor in America. Take that out of Mr. Bernero and you
have Mrs. Benero who is a kind and motherly elementary school principal.
Bernero got caught up in a no-holds barred format that encouraged
a give and take between the five GOP and two democratic candidates. He
described it as a "free-for-all."
There was one moment when they were talking about confronting the
head of the Canadian government over the issue of slant drilling in the
Great Lakes. The hockey-lovers over there are doing it and all the
candidates on stage opposed it.
GOP contender Pete Hoekstra pulled off a great ad lib. Asked what
he would do with an uncooperative head of state, the West Michigan
Dutchman said, "I would take him down…" And then he paused as the
audience knew what that meant, but then he added, "to the Gulf of
Bernero followed saying he would talk nice to the Canadian Premier.
The debate anchor wanted to know, "As the angriest Mayor in
American, can you do that?"
"Sometimes, I can be nice," Bernero retorted to a burst of
laughter in the crowd.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pass the Legacy Polish

It didn't take long for the audience to figure out the not so subtle
subtext to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's speech on Mackinac Island the other
It was one part history lesson, two parts of "Here is what I was
stuck with" and a dash of "Please don't blame me for this economic
challenge I am handing off to the next governor while I drink a
margarita on the beach somewhere." Of course she didn't say that but
the message was neatly tucked between the lines.
It was another sterling performance as the governor strolled back in
forth on the stage between two screens that she used to chronicle her
eight frustrating years in office.
"It would have been fun to be governor in the 90's," she joked and
the audience of business tycoons and hangers-on got it. Times were
better than and it seemed as if she took the oath of office one minute
and the economy went to hell the next in 2003 and beyond.
The most telling slide she used was a 1961 Time magazine piece on
the economic woes and the political infighting in Michigan to turn the
economy around.
"Sound familiar?" the current Chief Executive asked as the
audience looked at the picture of then Gov. Soapy Williams trying to
make ends met.
Some in the audience were shocked to discover that diversifying
Michigan's auto industry dominated economy has been going on for over
forty years. Every time a governor got close to doing it, the economy
would bounce back and the need would temporarily evaporate only to
re-emerge during the next downturn.
Governors Milliken didn't get it done; neither did Blanchard, nor
Engler and as she prepares to head for that drink on the beach, Gov.
Granholm has failed as well. She contends however that the "seeds" to
diversify the economy have been planted as she hands off the sprinkling
can to the next guy.
And when she talked about the need to bring in international jobs
to help in that long-delayed movement away from autos, it rang hollow
in part.
Yes, she visited dozens of foreign lands and brought back 19,000
jobs. But, and she did not tell the audience this, in eight years she
never made a sojourn to China to either brings jobs back or help
companies expand there in order to stay afloat back here.
So she give it the ole college try to polish her legacy with her
speech, but that will stand out as one glaring omission.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Two Peas: Schwarz-Fieger

Geoffrey Fieger and Joe Schwarz are about as far apart on the
political spectrum as you can be but they share one thing in common:
Each has thought about running for governor and dangled the possibility
in front of the media more than any other two guys in state history.
For the umpteenth time, barrister Fieger removed his name from this
year's list of potential candidates. No shocker there. And his buddy
and former State Senator and Congressman Joe Schwarz waited a little
longer, but ended up doing the same thing. Ditto on the shocker stuff.
Schwarz, for months, had been weighting a possible bid as an
independent party contender. Knowing that he was just a tad too
moderate for his former political home, the state GOP, Schwarz went
through all the motions as the political media waited breathlessly for
his final decision.
He convened his inner circle of advisors made up of lobbyists,
former staffers and others who felt he'd be a good gov.
He returned to the sidelines to reflect on the possibilities; could
he raise the money; did he have the fire in the gut to traipse around
the state doing every Kiwanis's club between Monroe and Marquette; and
could he beat whomever the GOP and democrats selected for their
Much like Fieger, who was good at talking about it, Schwarz has the
same DNA in his system although Fieger did actually run once and so did
Schwarz. Both btw lost.
In the end it came down to money Mr. Schwarz concluded. He just
didn't have the personal wealth to do it ala Dick DeVos or the Nerd.
Nor did he have the commitment from others to raise $4 million. Also
in the end, even though he never said it, Schwarz did not want to
influence the course of Michigan history by being the Ralph Nader in
this race.
That is Schwarz had no chance to win but he could have siphoned off
enough votes from the other two candidates to, in effect, make them
governor by default much like Nader did to Al Gore running for
Maybe Schwarz and Fieger could have made more history by running as
a ticket together.
You would have paid money to see that, right?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Back-Stage Reporting

It is probably one of the more high profile political events of the
year as 1500 or so high rollers of industry rub elbows with the
high-rollers of politics as each side uses the other for whatever ends
they might have in mind.
So much happens on stage, but there's lots you never see.
Rick Snyder, the supposed non-career politician, has done something
every career pol attempts i.e. to mold his or her image, not with words
but with non-verbal stuff.
Hence Snyder has been tie-less for the entire campaign. No blue
suits and power-red ties for this guy. He is just one of us working
slugs who probably can't afford a tie anyway.
But there he was, out in public, walking around the Grand Hotel in
a tie. There goes the finely tuned image, off the porch and into Lake
Alas this was not a make over in the making. Recall that Grand
Hotel silly rule about sport coats and ties for men after six. Any
good nerd knows you follow the rules even if it gives your highly paid
image makers nightmares.
The debate between five republicans and two democrats hoping to be
governor next year produced lots of buzz, but did you know that behind
the scenes the Dillon guys pulled off a bit of a coup?
The democratic Speaker is the tallest of the pack and everyone
knows if you are going to be on stage, you want to be center stage.
That show biz rule is as old as Jimmy Durante. (Google him if you're
drawing a blank.)
The original recommendation was that the seven candidates would
draw numbers to see who stood behind which podium. The center spot was
number four.
But the crafty Dillon-ites convinced the other candidates to do it
according to last names. Virg Bernero would be first and Rick Snyder
would be last and what a co-winky-dink, Dillon would end up in, TA-DA,
spot number four!.
He looked very governor-like as he dwarfed the two shorties Mike
Cox and Tom George on either side.
For the Dillon camp, that got off to a rocky launch, it was a deft
maneuver that nobody caught and it worked.
Maybe being a cerebral candidate has its advantages after all?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just Cut Taxes: Heaven to Follow

If only it was that simple.
Cut taxes and the economy in Michigan will sprout.
For years the state and national GOP have been the one-note party
when it comes to taxes. They are not only against taxes, they think if
you cut them Michigan's record busting jobless rate would subside like
the evening tide on Lake Michigan.
Cut taxes is a nifty campaign slogan that can help the GOP win
elections, but peal back that slogan and a harsh reality stares you in
the face.
Former Gov. John Engler cut taxes to the tune of $3 billion before
he left office. So how come our unemployment rate is not 4% instead of
Some Republicans, sensing their tax cut tune may be a little off
key, rush to Engler's defense. "We raised taxes two years ago," one
GOP leader contends.
O.K. but that still left $1.5 billion in tax cuts, so why isnt't
the jobless rate 8%?
GOP governor candidate Mike Cox wants a re-do of the Engler
policies as he proposes $2.2 billion in cuts.
His fellow GOP contenders Tom George and Mike Bouchard see the
folly in that as they dash a dose of reality into the debate over
cutting taxes.
How you going to pay for state services? George asks. Cox says he
can do it with a new and stronger economy.
Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House GOP Speaker sees Engler's tax
cuts and bumps him by a bunch. He would get rid of ALL taxes in Detroit
making Motown unique, but looking an awful like some third world
country some would argue.
Newt! The city, now near insolvency, can't wait for the trickle
down to create a waterfall of jobs. In the meantime, how do keep the
cops on the beat, the buses on time, and the water to the suburbs
It's not that simple.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Larry the Lobster

John Engler had his nickel. Pete Hoekstra has his penny and Mike
Cox has his lobster.
Symbolism counts for a lot in political campaigns.
Recall that when candidate Engler ran the first time he carried
around a five-cent piece and whenever the issue of property tax relief
came up, out came the nickel to demonstrate the weekly savings on
incumbent Jim Blanchard's property tax relief plan.
Current GOP candidate for governor, Mr. Hoekstra, carries a penny
in his pocket and whips it out to prove he can "make a penny squeal"
which is just another way of saying he is a West Michigan tight-wad.
And now you're probably wondering what in the world GOP governor
candidate Mike Cox is doing with a lobster suit?
He intends to use "Larry the Lobster" to taunt Mr. Hokestra.
If you've been watching the tube, you've seen the reference in
the recent Cox commercial to the Congressional money that went to a
Lobster Institute in Maine and sure enough, the ad contends, Mr.
Hoekstra voted for that.
Never mind that "tight-wad" Hoekstra has an explanation. Cox is
fixin' to sic this "symbol" on his opponent and perhaps "claw" him to
death with the imagery.
Now the Cox folks will not confirm any of this, but let's just
say it would not be appearing in print, or on the air if it t'weren't
Of course, how you use the lobster can be a dicey issue.
Do you ask Larry to show up at the docks on Mackinac Island when
all the big shot business leaders dis-embark for a leadership confab
this week?
Do you ask Larry to work the crowd at Hoekstra events beginning
this week as Hoekstra and Newt Gingrich rally near by?
Or do you just ask the lobster to weasel his way into a photo
opportunity with Hoekstra which most assuredly would end up in another
Cox TV commercial?
This could interesting and nasty depending on how the Hoekstra
team responds. Do they try to escort the lobster out of the rallies
and make a scene for the TV cameras? Which raises the question, does
Larry have free-speech rights?