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 28, 2011

Gov Mixed Bag on Candidness

How refreshing to have a governor who will readily fess up to
making mistakes.
How un refreshing to have a governor who will pull his punches on
touchy subjects.
Say hello to Gov. Rick "I sort of tell it like it is" Snyder.
Asked the other day if he botched the selling of the
Detroit-Windsor bridge in 2011, the governor did not wince and just
confessed that he did on at least three fronts and he conceded he
learned some lessons from all that and chalked it up to experience.
However when asked if President Barack Obama deserved at least
some credit for keeping GM and Chrysler off the junk heap, he got more
evasive. Too bad because a more forth coming answer would have added
even more to his credibility.
But a GOP governor defending the Democratic president is dicey
especially when all the Republican candidates for Mr. Obama's job are
denouncing his role in "saving" two of the former Big Three.
The governor did opine that there were other methods for handling
the situation but he refused to say the president saved the industry or
even deserved credit for helping to salvage them.
"I'm not going to second guess the President," was as far as he
would go.
Look it. Most reasonable and thinking folks would give both Mr.
Obama and former GOP President Bush a tip of the hat for doing what
they did for the two autos especially if you reside in this state.
Gov. Snyder tried to skirt the issue by saying it was a national
issue and had nothing to do with running the state.
Auto companies possibility going bankrupt and that has nothing to
do with Michigan?
Really? (view the governor's comments at and Evening
With the Governor.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mr.Money Bags

If you didn't know who he was and you saw him walking down the
street, you would never guess that Rick Snyder has made a boat load of
money. There are no $2,000 Italian custom-made suits, no flashy rings,
and no expensive car. He comes off as a millionaire you can relate to
but did you know where he honed his skills to get here?
Turns out he owes it all, pretty much, to his mom and dad. Isn't
that the way it is always is.
At the age of 11, Dad Snyder hired a stockbroker to consult with
this bright son. Then mom and dad turned about about $2,000 and told
their son, "invest it."
"There's a difference between parents making decisions for you and
letting you make them yourself," reflects the governor who knows what a
blessing it was to have this freedom.
He promptly used the freedom to buy shares in Kellogg cereal.
Being from Battle Creek he really had no choice.
And when he counted his cash, he had enough to get through
college and put a down payment on his first house.
But there is more to the story. It was actually at age 5 or six
that he got into the money thing. Turns out whenever he went to lunch
with his mom, she would hand over the check and had him double check
the math just to make sure they were not over billed or under billed
for that matter. And sure enough, often times when he added everything
up, he caught the mistakes.
"It was actually pretty funny," the grown-up governor now
recalls. "Here was this five year old telling his mom, this doesn't
add up."
So based on those early childhood lessons he learned at the knee
of his mom and dad, he sits here today with enough in the bank to keep
his family secure for the rest of their lives.
Oh btw, he also tipped 10% once he got the bill figured out.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Second in Command

Every governor has one. Somebody whom they can trust; someone who
is loyal, someone who will do the dirty work and do the heavy lifting
to get stuff done, and someone who not be a yes man or woman.
Gov. William Milliken had his Jerry Miller.
Gov. Jim Blanchard had his Rick Cole.
Gov. John Engler had Gov. John Engler.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm had Lt. Gov. John Cherry.
And Gov. Rick Snyder has his L.G. Brian Calley.
Mr. Calley and Mr. Snyder are a matched set. The former one term
house member was picked by candidate Snyder because the Ann Arbor
business guy knew nothing about Lansing. He was smart enough to know
that and took steps to remedy it.
Mr. Calley stepped in and took each assignment and worked long
hours to carry the water for the boss and it mostly worked.
Interviewed the other day at, he noted that he was a
Right to Work supporter when he resided in the Michigan House, but now
since the boss says, "this is not on my agenda," turns out it is no
longer on Calley's either.
In fact he feels this one will get no way fast.
"Just because we have a Republican majority, does not mean there
is a Republican majority for Right to Work," he reflects.
That doesn't mean the ultra-right wingers will pack it in. Nope.
They will push next year to pass this thing, but Mr. Calley figures it
will never get to the governor's desk. The governor is hoping his Man
Friday, is right.
Of course, no Lt. Governor ever grows up wanting to be the second
in command, so it seemed only logical to quiz Mr. Calley about his long
term agenda.
Do you want to be governor? was the pointed question.
And the pointed rejoinder?
"I want to be the senior capitol correspondent, so look out!"
Duly noted.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Schuette on Duty

If you love the political game, ya gotta love Bill Schuette cause
he plays it like a finely tuned violin. Now, not everybody loves the
tune he plays but give him credit, he is a student of this stuff and he
dance around issues with the best of them.
Like the other day at his year in review roundtable (done at an
actual roundtable). Capitol correspondents noted that the GOP attorney
general and the GOP governor are at huge odds over Obama-care.
Mr. Schuette, like all of his predecessors, Mike Cox, Jennifer
Granholm and Frank Kelley, has a knack for picking issues that produces
a windfall of media coverage.
So when Obama-care cleared the Congress, there was Mr. Schuette at
the head of the line to challenge it in the courts. Now he is
challenging Gov. Snyder, too.
The governor wants lawmakers to act on his version of Obama-care
right now..
The A.G. opines, "There is no rush on the health care exchange."
Reporters love it when they can drive a wedge between members of
their own party, so Mr. Schuette was asked about this major
disagreement with the Boss.
Without missing a beat he brushed it off with, "We agree on 95%
of the issues. We are good friends."
So much for the wedgey.
Or how about the A.G's lack-luster record on blocking those
pesky Asian Carp from invading the Great Lakes?
He's staged plenty of news conferences and fired off a ream of
news releases but nothing's been accomplished.
When confronted with the stark reality, he did some fancy foot
work but never confessed to his goose egg. of a record.
And on the presidential contest he backs Mitt Romney, the guy who
bet $10,000 during a debate recently. But Schuette is no big shooter
himself. He says, "I'll bet you 10 bucks" Romney beats President Obama.
Cheap skate.

Monday, December 19, 2011

GOP Grinches Steal Gov's Christmas

The governor is not getting everything he wanted for Christmas and
the Grinches who made that possible are from his own party.
Baa humbug!
First, Republican lawmakers stiffed their governor on the bridge
between Detroit and Windsor and now House Republicans refuse to cough
up votes for Mr. Snyder's health care market place legislation.
Those lawmakers believe his idea moves the state closer to
Obama-care which many R's are loathed to support, but ironically the
governor and senate Republicans have a different take.
They have told the house if it does not act on the governor's
blueprint, that will lead to Obama-care being imposed on the state
One guy whose temperature is going up is Sen. Jim Marleau
(R-Oakland County.) This mild-mannered and affable guy is frustrated
with his so-called friends in the House who won't get in line.
"I'm sick and tired of them calling it different names (referring
to Obama-care)…This is Michigan care" and some two million folks are
waiting to use it. "The time is now, not later" he adds for emphasis
as his pulse goes up another notch.
Forget it, retorts two Oakland County R's.
Rep. Marty Knollenberg wants to wait for the U.S. Supreme court
to rule on the national health care law sometime after next June.
Rep. Chuck Moss concurs complaining that this "sets us
irrevocably down the path to Obama-care and our guys aren't for it…Why
do we want to be the first people to buy a ticket on this boat which
may turn out to be the Titanic."
Even the GOP Speaker of the House Jase Bolger has turned a deaf
ear to his governor and the two have reportedly had more than a few
words on this one.
So if the governor is not getting these items under his tree, he
is getting something else: A tough lesson on how lawmakers can control
their governor and not the other way around.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are You Sitting Dow?

On the cosmic scheme of things, this was not earth shattering for
the general population, but it should have moved the needle for
Michigan's first Nerd governor.
After all, what were the chances that a conservative and a liberal
would pen the same story line on the same day in separate columns?
Their combined message was that it was time for Gov. Rick Snyder to
man-up to the far-right-wing of his party before that wing besmudges
his grand plans to reinvent Michigan.
Free Press opinion writer Stephen Henderson noted that it was
time for the governor to start annoying the "radical agenda" that the
right-wingers are pushing onto his more moderate leaning agenda.
This governor has never confronted this head on choosing instead
to trot out his time-worn line about none of this stuff is "on his
agenda" which is code for, I don't want to deal with it because it is
counter-productive, but he's never been that blunt.
It's not his style, but Henderson warns, the governor needs to go
Mr. H. labels it "ideological meddling" and adds, "It's time for
Snyder to draw between what legislative foolishness he will indulge and
what Michigan can't countenance going forward."
Which is just a fancy way of saying, "Governor, tell them to
knock it off."
While you might expect that kind of free advice from the Freep,
to find it in the Detroit News is down right freaky.
Nolan Finley, no slouch when it comes to being a little off to
the right, was more verbose that his left-leaning counterpart.
He talks about how the GOP needs to stay away from "social
meddling" plus "voters did not give Republicans a mandate to drag the
state to the far right on contentious social issue."
Holy cow!
And this piece de resistance: "Republicans in this state must
establish themselves as the party of progress and prosperity, and not
of puritanism and prejudice."
If these guys are right, the real Gov. Rick Snyder will have
to stand up at some point and embrace who he really is, or try to be
who the other side wants him to be.
It's dicey either way.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Wait Is Over

Sometimes the impossible takes a little longer. Just ask former
Gov. John Engler, who sixteen years ago, yes sixteen years ago, pleaded
with lawmakers to lift the 150 cap on charter schools.
Even though the aforementioned crusty and crafty GOP governor
usually had his way with legislators, the education lobby stiffed poor
ole Mr. Governor and he left office empty handed.
This week a GOP controlled legislature under a governor who is
neither crusty nor crafty finally finished the job.
By a narrow 58-49 margin with lots of angst in the GOP ranks, the
house adopted a phase-in of more charters beginning with 300, then 500
and then the skies the limit.
It was just one more insult to the Michigan Education Association
and colleagues which has sustained hit after hit from the R's in the
house and senate this year.
What's one more lump of coal?
For a time there were twenty Republicans who refused to join the
charter crusade. Some had great public schools and did not want a
charter siphoning off all those good students. Others argued for more
quality controls to make sure the charters did offer a better
education. And when all else failed Democrats argued companies that
run these schools are more interested in profits than teaching kids.,
But in the end the GOP House leadership prevailed by twisting
enough arms to pass the thing even though a handful of R's still voted
The opponents did carve out one minor victory. The new law will
not delayed for another year or so instead of going on the books right
After waiting sixteen years to get this, the charter gang can
hang on for one more.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Media Takes Easy Way Out

Inevitably in every political debate there is one telling moment
that gives the voters a real chance to compare candidates. And sure
enough it happened out in Iowa the other night as Mitt Romney and Newt
Gingrich debated the Palestinian issue in the Middle East.
Romney had it right when he opined that Mr. Gingrich's remarks
about the Palestinians being "an invented people" would inflame the
tinder box conditions in that explosive part of the world. Gingrich
defended the statement as just "telling the truth." Mr. Romney
asserted that he would not be a bomb thrower and would lower the
rhetoric rather than kick it up a notch.
Mr. Romney emerged from the exchange looking presidential. Mr.
Gingrich? Not so much.
So when it came time for the post-debate analysis, the boys and
girls over at ABC news could hardly wait to get their teeth into the
meaty issue. that was defining moment of the two hour exchange.
Not on your life!
They could hardly wait to dissect Mr. Romney's offer of a
$10,000 bet with opponent Rick Perry over something Romney wrote in his
"The median income is some parts of Iowa is well below $10,000,"
huffed one so-called commentator. And then they all piled on beating
up Mr. Romney for making a wager that made him look like the
millionaire that he is and therefore, the story line goes, he's
obviously out of touch with you and me.
It was typical media clap-trap that did very little to
enlightened the electorate.
Let's see the $10,000 bet or the Israel vs. Palestine mess?
The former was easy to understand and all that Middle East
stuff? Everyone knows Americans could care less about foreign policy
and to say the least the Middle East story is so complex you need a PhD
to understand it.
Hence the "political experts" went for the simple and
meaningless angle because the audience would get that.
Which is exactly what's wrong with journalism today.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Last Laugh

Organized labor may get the last laugh as it attempts to undo one
of the governor's crowning achievements of the year the Emergency
Manager law…or maybe not?
The unions have joined forces with those who believe the EM law
is about as undemocratic as it gets; it allows the state to send in a
financial czar to run a city that is headed for the financial cliff.
That czar can stamp a null and void on union contracts which would
explain why the labor guys launched a petition drive to end the law.
And it looks like that will happen. Sometime early next year
the Forward Michigan coalition will file, it hopes, upwards of 250,000
petition signatures and when those names are certified by the state,
the governor's EM law goes on hold until November 2012. At that time
Michigan voters will decide whether to kill the thing.
"I'm willing to predict success," asserts Brandon Jessup who is
running the petition drive. The savvy young Democrat announces that on
December 17th there will be signature gathering rallies in 13 cities
aimed at reaching that quarter of a million mark.
It's actually a fairly impressive number given they are not
paying for the names which is the normal drill for such drives.
So that is that.
Well not quite.
GOP lawmakers and the governor are considering a new EM law
that would take effect if and when the current one is on hold. In
other words lawmakers may get the last laugh and not the unions.
"Shame on them," laments Mr. Jessup.
The R's could care less because they contend they are doing
this to keep cities such as Detroit from going into bankruptcy to which
Mr. J. asserts on Off the Record ( they are really doing it to
bust the unions.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

If they had a list for the best sound bite producer in this town,
Detroit Senator Coleman Young, Jr. would be on it and darn near the top.
Yeah..that Coleman Young Jr, the son of the former Detroit Mayor by
the same name.
Seems the junior Young is not too pleased with Gov. Rick Snyder
these days and with the governor down at 20% in the polls, Mr. Young
apparently has a ton of company.
Mr. Snyder, of course, has set into motion a review of the
finances in Detroit which could lead to the imposition of an outside
finance czar to run the city.
The governor steadfastly asserts that he does not want to go there.
Enter Senator Young.
"I don't believe him," he begins his blunt and pithy sound bite
assault on the whole EM concept or "Economic Dictator" as he puts it.
"It's an affront to our city," he warms to the subject and
"violates our constitutional rights" to boot..
He believes the move to have outside forces takeover the city has
been the subject of "a lot of discussion" for years and now it's coming
to fruition.
The Democratic senator believes an EM would hold a "fire-sale
where everything must go" including the sell off of Belle Isle, city
parks, city airport, a golf course and who knows what all? "They will
come in an rape, pillage and rob" the city he asserts.
He hopes the current leadership in Motown, which some believe is
a misnomer, will get this ironed out before the governor lowers the
But remember the governor contends there's no boom, unless he is
forced to use it.
Tell that to the offspring of the former sound bite genius of
years ago, Coleman Young Senior.
What's the saying, "Lke father, like son?"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

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Tick-Tock Tick-Tock

The clock is ticking and when it stops will the City of Detroit
end-up in bankruptcy?
It seems like everyone and his uncle from the governor on down
is hoping the answer is no and the use of the Emergency Manager law may
be the only way to avoid it…at least that's what the backers of the EM
law contend which is why they invented the thing in the first place.
State treasurer officials will begin their plodding through the
red ink in the Detroit books. None of what they will find will be a
surprise as they have been unofficially looking at the books for years.
The only unanswered questions is, how deep is the ink?
That 30 day clock is now running, but one of the elements that
is lost in this story is the fact that the Mayor of Detroit and the
City Council do not have to sit on the sidelines while the state does
its thing.
One of the indirect impacts of the EM law is to send an
unmistakable wake-up call to all elected officials: Look it guys. We
can do this or you can do this without the state, and perhaps the fact
that the EM review process is underway, will motivate the mayor
to finally stop all the back and forth and get the job done.
The potential is there and the governor certainly hopes it
can be realized but ultimately if the politicians can't do it, and they
have not being doing it in Detroit for decades, the state can pick
someone who will.
The reason that "someone" will act is that he or she does
not have to run for re-election which is basically why those Detroit
officials have been unable to do the heavy-lifting on their own.
If they were to make too many controversial decisions, such
as selling Belle Isle or the water company or whatever, the voters
could bounce them out of office next time.
Hum. Let's see, make tough decisions or get un-elected?
So far the latter is winning out in Motown which is exactly
why the state is now formally getting in the act.