Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Detroit Regional Bailout Tax Coming to Your Water and Sewer Bill...and Something to Do About It

Oh, Chris you say..you of all people are not given to hyperbole. This is true. But facts are facts. If I was a "am now" not the"has been" I am, I would sure want to get in front of this oncoming train.

The hard truth to be faced-a regional tax to bailout Detroit is coming through the back door.

If you are a ratepayer of the Detroit Water and Sewer System you will be paying for it. You will not be voting on it. You have no choice but to use water and sewer. The government will be imposing it. To me, this meets the standard definition of a tax. 

As a water and sewer customer of the City of Detroit, you are an asset in Bankruptcy Court. You can provide years and years of revenue to satisfy creditors. You won't be paying for a new water pipe, you will paying for years of mistakes by Mayors and Council-people of the City of Detroit spending money on God knows what. This would meet the standard definition of a bailout. 

As the Bankruptcy Court and the Emergency Manager attempt to find some satisfaction for the City of Detroit's creditors, the list of assets must be meager. No doubt that is why the DIA and the art was thrown on chopping block so quickly. It appears increasingly apparently that the customers of the Detroit Water and Sewer System are being eyed as the biggest asset and revenue generator the City of Detroit has. 

It is indeed an important system. However annoyingly, it is water that people religiously repeat is the best water around*. Here is where 40% of the state's residents are on the hook to the City of Detroit, also more than 40% of the state jobs come from the companies in out-county Wayne and in Oakland and Macomb Counties....they rely on that sewer and water every day. Shut that off and you shut off Michigan. Pure and simple. Talk about a revenue stream. 'Hey creditors-we've got this solved.' 

Yet it was the fate of the paintings that drew Lansing's eyes east. Don't get me wrong-I like the art too. But with an even year approaching, you would think the interests of the above named 40% of the state's residents and with our still fragile economy, that enormous number of jobs with their requisite employers might warrant more attention. Hundreds of millions in taxpayers fund are found for one issue-deafening silence for the other. 

Despite all of the current objections, without a major changes in the current environment, things do not look good for the regional ratepayers of the DWSD. Whether it comes from a judge or Mr. Orr, the facts remain the same. The black hole that is the City of Detroit budget can in part be resolved by shifting those old bills and poor choices onto the reliable (and for the most part stuck right where they are) ratepayers of the region. 

SO WHAT TO DO? Here is my thought on a bill to introduce ASAP and make a local legislator or two a hero!

It shall not be permissible as a result of a municipal bankruptcy or the appointment of a emergency financial manager to transfer municipal liabilities that do not relate directly to the management or operation of an existing utility system to the ratepayers or municipalities that system may serve. 

Legislation can bestow superpowers to people. See Sen. John Proos (left), statesmen like Richard McLellan (center), even regional leaders such as Paul Tait from SEMCOG (right)
Let the lawyers and bill drafters do the magic. I am sure there are more artful and clearer ways to say this. If the idea isn't getting through, let me be clearer-don't transfer the years of mismanagement of the city into Detroit Water and Sewer Department via utility bills or through a new authority. 

As for the politics, there was a slogan used on a revenue sharing gimmick Granholm pulled years ago that fits our current problems quite well, "No Shift and Shaft". Simple and very relevant to the argument. 

Elected officials might very well be helpless as a judge or an Emergency Manager might just make these choices in the near future by decree. It would be a good idea for a local legislator to at least have a plan in hand. 


Work together to be twice as strong, just like Sens. Tonya Schuitmaker and Arlan Meekhof!

So, Mr. and Mrs. Legislator. The angry calls will eventually be coming to your door. The typical GOP excuses of Detroit-bashing are not going to work here....this was an Emergency Manager appointed by...ahem...Rick Snyder. Even you Democrats-I know the pressure is always there for regionalism and solidarity. If I represented Dearborn, Warren or Royal Oak, I'd want people to know I did something about this. After all, those city governments haven't overspent and to my knowledge have managed this recession well. 

It is likely some lawyers will say it won't work. I say try anyway. Put your legal counsels to work and get creative. Tell them to find a way to make it work.

There will be those that say this undermines negotiations. I call Bull...loney...:-) If anything, it is about time the cavalry came in to help boost the regional government leaders who have had a pretty lonely fight. Those 40% of the state's resident have more representatives in government than just the countywide elected officials that have been hammering away at this. 

Let's pause in the action to consider a much better overall solution to everything discussed

There should have been a positive side to this situation, a wonderful opportunity to solve a long nagging problem. A truly regional system that is more representative of the large customer base, with new management and tackling long term problems. The problem is there is no openness in negotiation to transfer management in any form, just a desire for money. 

This is what most people really want. A serious talk about actually fixing this, changing management and true regionalism. I have a feeling that is what Rick Snyder envisioned. What he has is someone attempting to bid it up to a maximum price while handing over as little in the way of concessions as possible. This is not a Wall Street high stakes deal-I think the man the Governor sent in there thinks it is. 

Of course all of this hyperbole and politics could be tossed out the door right now. That would be the best thing for everyone. I am not a Detroit-hater and probably voted for every regional thing put in front of me in Lansing. What this needs is the personal hand of the Governor or one of wise men (or women) of the state right now...badly. I have a hard time believing that what is happening on the ground here is what the Snyder administration really believes is good policy. Bill Rustem...if you are out there....I know you wouldn't. 

I'm a fan of what Team Snyder has accomplished. It is truly remarkable how much has been done so quickly.  They certainly didn't asked to be handed the time bomb of Detroit bankruptcy. For what it is worth, let me offer this thought- this is a time bomb of anger being transferred from 700,000 people to 40% of the state's residents. Worse than that it is a wasted opportunity. For as long as I can remember the regional governance of this system has been an issue. This crisis presents an opportunity to actually solve that. Collectively, we are blowing it. 

And we are back...

So you say... you work at Oakland County, is this their position? Hell no. If it was, they have about 25 million better ways of expressing it. They have well heeled lobbyists (truly...beautiful shoes) that could have this in the hopper and moving in days. This is just one "has-been" passing on an idea to some "are-nows". 

I'd want my constituents to know I fought for them come-November on this one. The Detroit Regional Bailout Tax. I'd want a plan on that one. 

*I have to get a certain something off my chest about this myth about the "best water anywhere". What is this magic Detroit water you ask? It is a straw in Lake Huron up by Port Huron somewhere. The sewer dumps out in Lake Huron, after treatment, in Southern Wayne I believe (lucky Monroe). 

What is this magic the City of Detroit holds? The federal permits to do so. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Losing Mike Rogers

A friend has reminded me, now that the state of shock has worn off, about what really matters in the 8th Congressional District right now.

I've certainly gotten carried away with the race to replace. There is plenty of time for that however, even with the crunch time closing in on filing.  

We've suffered a loss.The loss to the district and especially to the "bench" of the Republican Party is real. In terms of raw ability and knowledge as well as work ethic and a knack for articulating a message to average people, Mike Rogers is just a step above your every day candidate/elected official. Sorry reindeer farmers.

Everyone has issued the obligatory comments about Congressman Mike Rogers. Because it is common to do this every time a politician retires, no one believes the words in these statements anymore. It cheapens their meaning and robs the real individual of some much deserved genuine feeling and sentiment from people who really do care about his service. Because Mike caught everyone so much by surprise it made these comments seem even less meaningful than they should have. 

Of course we all wish him well. He has earned whatever rest and reward ahead. The life he has lived has been one of sacrifice after another, day in and day out. I had the unique honor of watching the beginnings of his political career up through that nail biter race win in 2000 and beyond, pretty darn close up. None of it was handed to him. He worked hard in every race. It is amazing that the race in 2000 did not kill him and everyone close to him due to exhaustion.(there is a news story somewhere about a female staffer getting a bald spot from pulling her hair out one strand at a time) Then there is being in Congress. Frankly, that must just be a horrible existence. Shuttled back in forth on planes. Raising money day in and day out. A thousand issues. No one ever satisfied. Not a moment's rest. No doubt a change must be inviting. 

If it is because the House leadership was not cooperative however, may that person die a thousand deaths under the hottest suns....

I have served as Chair of the Livingston County GOP and in the State House from Mike's area. People would say things all the time and they meant it-you could see it in there eyes-Mike Rogers was going to President of the United States some day. Not a wish. A bold statement of fact. They knew he would be Governor or Senator, that was just going to happen. Not worth much thought. The Presidency was going to be the end of it all. 

Now if you consider that for moment there is something rather remarkable about it. You see, people were seeing Mike up close. It is all well and good to have an image and idea of a hero far off. But here was Mike Rogers, in the flesh, an average guy from Brighton, not born into wealth, but smart, articulate and talented at your local Dunkin Donuts. Mike exudes patriotism, civic duty and honor. To top it off, he can tell a good joke or a tear inducing anecdote. 

Beside having my own children, the best thing I have ever had happen in my life was being taken under the wing of Mike's father, John. An extra bonus was watching his mother "the Queen of Brighton" Joyce in action. I know the secret formula to the Mike Rogers magic. He was raised by amazing people. That civic-mindedness, patriotism, honor, the jokes, the toughness, that incredible work ethic, the brains, the talent and so much more....Equal parts John and Joyce Rogers. Their gift to Mike and therefore to us. 

When I was leaving my seat, I went to see Mike's brother Bill and basically pleaded with him to run. Bill Rogers is just like all the Rogers...would do anything for anyone, anytime. Always it is about their duty to the community, the oath they take and to do the right thing. He has been a great State Representative and although I know he has been frustrated with term limits, he always stepped up to the plate on every tough issue that came his way. 

When I was first elected a Twp. Trustee at the ripe (and generally stupid) age of 18, I had pretty bad habit of voting with the crowd, no matter how short-sighted and wrong those choices were. Midway through my Board service, I had some sense knocked into me by a fellow Trustee, John C. Rogers. A former high school coach, principal and administrator, John Rogers does not go with the flow. He is one tough guy and he does what he thinks is right. He stands his ground-no matter how mad that crowd gets. It cost him an election once, but that is the price of duty in the world of John C. Rogers. For whatever reason he saw potential in me and began the mentoring. He has taught me more about life, leadership, people and tough decisions than any school ever could. When I came to the Michigan House in 2003, I was rated most effective legislator in the House in a MIRS poll as a freshman (not most effective freshmen-most effective House member..not bragging...making a point here)...about 99% of that is stuff I absorbed from John Rogers. But there is also that stubborn tenacity to do the right thing and to take the lumps. It is part of the Rogers creed and you can see it now with our Congressman on national security issues.  So it would come to pass that even they would all disagree so much with a decision I would make when I saw it as my duty and the right thing to do....talk about irony....

But I digress. 

General Douglas MacArthur addressed the cadets at West Point with these words:

"Duty, Honor, Country" — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Congressman Mike Rogers has lived that creed. He has shown a strength of character and determination, especially in these recent years, on issues of national defense and intelligence to provide an independent clear headed path. He found bi-partisanship were it was lacking and principle before expediency. 

But before I get down in the dumps about the end of the Mike Rogers political story I was just remembering something from my foggy memory banks....

I know! 

There was this show called the GE Radio Hour that became the GE Television Hour...guess who hosted it ?

RONALD REAGAN!!!!!!

ROGERS FOR PRESIDENT!!!!!!

Sign me up! Brighton-break out the banners...this thing ain't over.....


Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Price of Making or Not Making Tough Choices

There is something I never really got around to explaining in full. At first because of the whole 11th Commandment thing as well as just being dead tired. But mostly because I just wanted to put the whole thing behind me. This really has been a disservice, sorry for that. 

You may or may not know this but i am guilty as charged for voting for a income tax increase, in collusion with one Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm in the midst of a government shutdown one October night in 2007. After this vote, I stepped down from my leadership post as Republican Floor Leader. On it's surface, an open and shut case of chronic, incurable RINO. May God have mercy on my soul.

Cell Block D
Except...

Well, if you are interested, the truth is I did it for one very conservative reason. I am at heart an extremely stubborn person. It is something I have inherited from my mother. This stubborness was directed at a single minded goal: get out of the budget debacle without a business tax increase in a economically ravaged Michigan. 

Michigan Chamber guru Rich Studley, Detroit Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Sarah Hubbard and others had worked closely with me all through this process and can attest to this single minded pursuit. Of course we wanted reforms to state government, teacher pension and much more. 

Throughout the lead up to the 2007 budget vote everyone knew two things: it was going to be hard and it was going to get solved one way or another. These crisis inevitably do. It's just that most people don't want to be the ones in the room doing it and putting up the nasty votes making it happen. That's why some people get the big offices and committee chairs, because they have to be the adults. This has been this way since legislative bodies have been in existence.

In 2007, my GOP House colleagues were in the minority. Let the people with the committee chairs and the nice offices solve this. Trust me, I was in no rush to get in the crossfire.

As spring turned to summer and summer towards fall the problem was increasingly clear, the House Democratic majority either wouldn't or couldn't get anything done on their own. The fiscal year was running out.

Here is the hitch-Republicans were in the Senate majority and Mike Bishop was the Senate Majority Leader. Everyone was looking to him and to that office for some sort of indication of what the Republican approach to this crisis was going to be. You see, implicit in that job is taking the arrows for your colleagues and being part of the solutions to the crisis any that comes along. It has always been that way. If you don't like that kind of responsibility, you aren't supposed to take that job.

Now you may also say, here I was just another Republican just ready to sell you out and roll over to raise taxes. Let me tell me you, if memory serves i voted for every budget cut that was put in front of me. I was just as anti-tax as every other Republican, in some ways more. You see, we all knew taxes were going to be raised. I was trying to be responsible and make sure they were the smallest with the least impact. To me that's better than blogging and sitting on your hands. 

As a history junkie, it is hard to ignore the basic facts of what has happened in the past-how we imagine our heroes acting and what actually happened. After all What Would Ronald Reagan Do? Again, there is a rather simple answer: What Did Ronald Reagan Do? Faced with a spiraling out of control deficit and massive entitlement outlays into the future with a Democratic House and Republican Senate: He signed entitlement reforms, deficit reduction caps and the largest tax increase in the country's history up until that point. Ronald Reagan was no RINO. Look back further in his career, he did the same as Governor of California. Ronald Reagan was a true conservative in every sense and he certainly winced doing it. Above all Reagan was a patriot and being a patriot means not letting your country or state come off the rails on your watch. The World War II generation of elected officials of all stripes seemed to have that at their core.

So back to that night.

In the negotiations I had with the Governor and her staff I made it clear that I saw a business tax as a job killer and deal breaker. I was completely clear that I meant this in the sense of a comprehensive agreement. When a service tax was thrown in at the 11th hour I voted no in the conference committee and was voting no on the House floor. 

Governor Granholm can running up and got in my face. Now-Senator Shuitmaker can attest that I handled that just fine. The service tax violated our agreement.

With 56 votes up, the income tax had passed and was locked in. It is worth making a special of this very critical fact...the tax increase HAD ALREADY PASSED. Everything was done and the one thing I hated was going to happen....a tax on services....a job killing mess of a tax right in the middle of a long recession....terrible policy. That is when I motioned to Speaker Dillon and asked:

"If I can get the Senate to send back the service tax in exchange for a slightly higher income tax in exchange for my vote will you do it?"

He said yes. I voted yes.

I went over to the Senate. I literally begged Mike Bishop to do it. 

I was told that politically it was better to have a couple Republican Senators vote for a smaller income tax and a couple of other Republicans vote for the service tax. 

First of all, that is crazy. Whether someone votes for a 4.1 or 4.3 income tax, it really does not mean a hill of beans. Second, the service tax was a poorly thought out mess that was a betrayal to the business community and slap in the face to the economy. 

Let us take pause here for angry conservatives...

You say SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT. Fine if you are of that mindset, guess who could have done that?

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop

No, Mike chose a unique path. To keep the job but not to do it. To passively let things happen.

He could have let the people who were going to vote for the solution meet and come to a common negotiation ground for a stronger bargain with the Governor. Nope. He blocked those attempts. 

Outside the Chamber were Mr. Studley and Ms. Hubbard who, if asked, would remember these events.I am sure Andy Dillon would as well.

About a month and half later, the disaster that was the service tax was replaced with the Michigan Business Tax surcharge. (Oh Karma...how I love thee...guess who voted for this very tax? not me...no-Sen. Bishop himself)

The surcharge gave birth to the pension tax. Those are all taxes with Republican fingerprints all over them.

Oh that income tax THAT HAD ALREADY PASSED I voted for....it was supposed to be rolled back a long time ago, later on Republicans in Lansing took that out provision out and the rate remains the same.

A couple of GOP Senators could have voted for a few more tenths of an income tax increase that would have been rolled back by now. Alternatively, we could have engaged in a serious budget negotiation sometime before the fiscal year had actually ended that included the tough choices. including the taxes we ended up with. That would have necessitated our Senate Leader, like his predecessor Ken Sikkema and others before, having to suck it up and take those tough positions. 

That's my story. Letters to my parole board would appreciated. 

As it turns out, I did not wake up one morning loving taxes and government. I took a calculated risk for something I care a lot about and have never regretted it. That's why I went to Lansing. My last minute attempt to kill that service tax might have failed but it was worthy of a serious attempt. The consequences speak for themselves. 

There are still dreams of being de-horned and having my trunk returned...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Being on the Wrong Side of History


Fellow Republicans, it is time to say congratulations to the many, many same sex couples all over Michigan who have won at least a short moment of equal access to the liberties and justice afforded to all the other adults citizens of our state.

Let us be gracious now, at least in this late stage in the game, drop the pretense and stop delaying the inevitable. There is no doubt we have written off an entire block of people from voting GOP for the foreseeable future. We deserve that. The world has changed, everyone knows it. Making people wait for their fundamental rights to live a life as they choose is just mean spirited. 

Ironically enough, it is just about the ten year anniversary of the one vote I took in the Michigan legislature that haunts me the most. The one I cannot come to terms with. Every excuse I make in my head is washed away by my conscience. Others took a principled stand and I thought they were nuts. I took the easy road. They went the other way and paid dearly.  

It was just about this time ten years ago we voted in the Michigan House on the question of whether to put the question of whether marriage should be between one man and one woman in Michigan's Constitution.

Let's take a moment to pause for some context. If you were to do a thorough research job of this issue you would find at this time in 2004- ONE jurisdiction (a county in New Mexico) in the entire country had issued a same-sex marriage license. This issue was barely a blip on the radar screen on the overall political debate. It was not an imminent threat to the economically savaged people of Michigan.  Try to remember the 1990's...do you remember even talking about this issue? But....

There was a big problem for Republicans-what people DID want to talk about was not good..Iraq and a stalled economy. 

George W. Bush had to be re-elected, Republicans had to win. We needed an issue. This apparently was the issue. 2004 may turn out to be the most expensive election for Republicans over the long haul we have ever had. It sure did not pay out dividends. It feels like we bought a mobile home on a 30 year payment plan with 50% interest. 

Campaign strategists loved the demographics of the issue. Working class Catholics would turn out and they will vote for Bush....religious fundamentalist would be fired up...and on and on...

At the House of Representatives, some people thought this was THE issue to take out some vulnerable Democrats. A Constitutional Amendment would require a 2/3 vote, the pressure would be strong on members of the Democratic minority to not give those those precious decisive votes. 

Looking back now, one of the things that bothers me the most about the whole episode was how dehumanizing it was. It was just politics. But it wasn't politics..these were people. 

We singled out a whole group of people, most of whom just wanted to be left alone, to forcefully discriminate against them for short term political benefit. 

All around us were our friends, COLLEAGUES, family members, highly valued staff members and people we care about who this clearly was going to hurt. Nobody seemed to think a thing of it. Like most people, including my constituents, I wasn't comfortable with same-sex marriage at that point but I didn't even bother to throw out a "hey we shouldn't be doing this" or "look what we are doing to the people we care about". 

The vote failed. The supporters had to go spend some money to gather the signatures. Of course, those signatures were used as a database for later campaigns. A few of my Republican colleagues, Lorence Wenke and Leon Drolet paid enormously for their courage in voting no. While they finished their 6 year runs, it was with much more effort than the rest of us. One Democrat, Jennifer Elkins, lost and theoretically this may have been the deciding factor...but there were also a lot of other factors.

Oh....and the exit polls in Michigan showed those Catholics showed up and voted against Gay Marriage and then they voted.....for John Kerry. 

My own particular purgatory is to be forever doomed to be on the wrong side of history. Ever since I can remember I have voraciously read history. Churchill in the wilderness years with his scrappy friends trying to rouse support to fight Hitler before the war. Lincoln, Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams, Charles Sumner and so many more who fought slavery, even before it was popular. The founders meeting in secret and drawing up the plans for our country, while facing seemingly insurmountable odds. Reagan and Barry Goldwater always looking for the principled stand for the long term over the expedient. 

You always picture yourself cast in a role with them. Not on the other side. In my small window of making an impact, I failed to put the things I learned from reading those books to use on an important issue.  

There are a lot of us in the GOP who think we get a free pass because we aren't one of THOSE people... you know.....the kind that mouthed off about it like Rick Santorum.... I just voted to put it on the ballot. This is common discussion when you get Republicans in private. It takes two seconds to realize the error in this logic, however much comfort it gives.

When we are quiet, everyone assumes that we are in 100% agreement. That creates the juggernaut that gives the "mouthy" ones the power to do the harm. Whether we are mouthy or not, the harm is still done. There are no free passes. 

Would I put anything on the ballot? Of course not. I wouldn't have voted to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot. I wouldn't have voted to ban hunting on the ballot. On and on. 

There can be no doubt at this point, same sex couples will have their rights recognized. It is only a matter of time. 

Let's do the grown-up thing and help heal the wounds we created. At the very least, let's get the heck out of the way. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Serious Question for Wes and Other Enthusiasts of the LG GOP Race


We have but one question.

A question that has been much on our minds since this whole race began.

It is meant in the sincerest of terms. Anyone planning on participating in this process should be very interested in the answer.

Wes Nakagiri is clearly a well intentioned, sincere person with deeply held beliefs. He appears to be a talented individual who has a lot to offer both the party and his state. His many supporters are also very dedicated people who have strong feelings about issues and feel the Snyder/Calley administration have violated those core beliefs. There is nothing wrong in any way with their desire to express their frustration and disagreement. 

There are however some perplexing practical problems raised by the particular way they have chosen to do so. It would be wise to consider what happens after the nomination...

This question may in fact be useful to Mr. Nakagiri. Should he be successful, he will probably be answering it for 2 ½ months straight.

Ok here we go….
The setting-Republican State Convention

 You have just finished your victory speech and applause has died down and you are cornered by a journalist

THE QUESTION

Mr. Nakagiri, you have just spent the last year criticizing the Snyder administration’s policies and defeated Governor Snyder's chief lieutenant within his own party, how can you now turn around and credibly ask the people of Michigan to vote for Rick Snyder and your team?

Some Tips on Scoring
1)      Answer must be short enough for a TV or radio clip blurb
2)      An answer consisting entirely of attacking Democrats will not go over well or help
3)      An answer about making the administration more conservative will be read as an 
        additional attack on the ticket you just joined 
4)     Attempting to separate Calley from Snyder just isn't going to fly


      EXTRA CREDIT

      As a new member of the ticket you are asked to take a leadership role in communications, please write a single sentence for the Snyder/Nakagiri ticket press release responding to the Michigan Democratic Party’s release regarding the convention, “Republicans' Reject Snyder”. The statement will be from Rick Snyder in response to get the message through that rank and file conservative Republicans do support him and will be voting for the Snyder/Nakagiri ticket in November.

EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT


Write a short essay on the impact of Martha Griffiths’ feud with Governor Blanchard in the 1990 election. 

Suggested Reading: Any of several books detailing both 1976 attempts and discussions for a Ford/Reagan ticket and a 1980 Reagan/Ford ticket. That Reagan guy was a smart man. 

P.S.-Wes, if you have really good answers for all these, we are all in. It is quite the tricky, little puzzling road before you. Then if you actually win in November, that is going to make this look like a cakewalk. 

P.S.S.-Served with B. Calley one term..total know-it-all..i'm not going to confirm any stories about 'hazing incidents' from future 'Senators' who may or may not given him 'noogies', 'wedgies', 'swirlies' or stole his 'trapper keeper' but let's just say...the nerd thing might have been his idea. 

Sorry one last note-We think Todd's sniping at you totally sucks. Not a team player move. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

2014-The Year of the Pizza Delivery Guy & Predictions



Winds from the east... Mist comin' in... Like something's a brewin', about to begin... Can't put me finger on what lies in store... But I feel what's to happen, all happened before...

Elections happen every now and then, where things that just aren’t supposed to happen just happen.

All of the many issues of diversity and growing the base of the GOP remain, but we are taking a hiatus from doom and gloom. Republicus has read the portents and is seeing that a confluence of factors are forming that  might just be making 2014 the exception, a bright spot the Grand Old Party.

Our friends in Lansing have moved the filing deadline up to April 22nd so start filling up your piggie banks.If you are a Republican debating filing for a seat that seems out of reach this might just be the year to plop down that $100 bucks. For this may just be another year of the pizza delivery guy...

The year was 1984. The seat was in Hazel Park and Madison Heights. To the unfamiliar, this is deep into Democrat land. This is the kind of seat where the party just puts up the $100 bucks and finds somebody, literally anybody, with a pulse and citizenship to sign a piece of paper and do their duty. Generally, this is the last this person is heard of.  They get to keep the souvenir of the test ballot with their name on it and get a free seat at the next state convention. But 1984 was no ordinary year for Republicans as students of history will remember. Ronald Reagan triumphed in a massive re-election victory. Along the way he brought with him one Greg Gruse.

Greg Gruse was a pizza delivery guy and the next state representative from Hazel Park.

Gruse defeated a well respected, entrenched legislator who no one even imagined would have to lift a finger after filing deadline. No one was more surprised than Mr. Gruse himself and the running joke in Lansing was that when asked what committee he wanted to serve on he said "Foreign Affairs".
Must be 21 to Enter. Certain other rules apply, see affidavit
These things happen. Roll back the clock to 1980.

Republicans also picked up a seat based in PONTIAC in that election, electing Rep. Jean Willoughby.

Then there examples at a national level like Michael Flanagan the Republican who beat Dan Rostenkowski in the heart of Chicago or Joseph Cao who won a seat in the heart of downtown New Orleans...and on and on

They are flukes. There are plenty of Democratic examples of them too. See the bloodbaths of recent years.

The story plays out the same every time: The tide washes back and no matter how hard these folks work they just get demolished in the next election.

Of course there are also realignments and tipping points. In my search for Mr. Pizza, I went way off course. I could of sworn it was Redford and long story short I ended up looking at old newspapers from Canton.

Here is the story of a tipping point playing out. Canton Township is one of the largest municipalities in the state, certainly in southeast Michigan. On election day 1980 it had been governed by Democrats for decades. To read the newspaper right before and right after the election in 1980 is to see the long term political alignment there and to see western Wayne County begin to shift.
Phil LaJoy (R) runs Canton Twp. with an iron fist
Republicans in 1980 won local offices in township and county commission seats unheard of before, reaching farther into the inner suburbs than ever before. My favorite was a new Canton Twp. Trustee (the Board went from D to majority R) who was proud of his giant belly and wore a T-shirt "Canton's Incredible Bulk". Another new Trustee in that Board was a familiar name, Loren Bennett.

Democrats have had their fluke years too. No doubt 1974, 1986, 1992, 2006 and 2008 produced a few. 

There are no Reagan coattails to be sure to pull Steve from 7-11 into the State House from Taylor or some such place this time. Flukes can happen without coattails, like in 1994 or 2006. Uneven voter turnout would be the culprit likely.

There is a confluence of factors that look to be creating a situation that could be disastrous for Democrats this fall that I just don't see how they reverse. If they would like to share their secret strategy please put it in the comments section. 

History is a hard master. Modern political history tells us the answer to November 2014 well before a single ballot is cast. You can look back to every mid-term, second term election for a President's party straight back to Roosevelt and forward and see the path of destruction-with one major exception.

The reason is quite simple. It is near impossible to generate the enthusiasm needed for the party's voters to turn out. The exception was the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton when Republicans provided the Democrats just what they needed to excite their base.

It makes sense, it is just so very difficult to excite the troops to get out and fight that one last fight. People are jaded and worn out. The turnout machine is spent. For Democrats, the turnout is the whole game. How they excite that turnout, despite all the technology in the world, is beyond me. It seems they are betting a lot on minimum wage again. Michigan's is already higher than the nation and I have a hard time believing making it marginally higher is going to do the trick for them. You can only run that horse so many times.

Which brings its down home to ...Messrs. Schauer and Peters.

Could a more boring, uninspired ticket be found? Those rallies are just going to be thrilling...like mandatory in-service hours or watching the HGTV because you lost the remote and are to lazy to get up and change the channel. Seriously, how do these gentlemen get the troops fired up this fall? How do they boost the turnout from 50% to 60% and make it a win? How ...do....they.....so.....sorry I was drifting.....

Schauer-Peters Rally is just up the road, turn left, go five miles down past the wheat fields, there will be an unmarked fork in the road, take it, you will pass ten to fifteen 1970's style brown ranch homes until you get to a bare concrete stadium, we're the ones in beige mock turtlenecks. See ya there!
Governor Snyder and Terri Land are not exciting. In fact-they aren't...and that is the thing.. Republicans finally got it together. The best Republican candidates are boring and steady. 

Republicus will make a highly irresponsible bet right now-Governor Snyder will win by healthy margin.

Terri Land deserves a ton of credit for hanging tough when for no reason, she wasn't getting the respect she deserves as an electable, well qualified candidate. Kudos to her and her relentless campaigning.

Republicus will make another highly irresponsible bet right now. U.S. Senator Terri Lynn Land by a comfortable margin. 

(We will back these bets with an amazing object if we can taunt a worthy opponent (joe disano) into offering something equally amazing....) 

On top of all this is Obamacare. Whatever your opinion of it, you cannot be happy about how it has been managed. I do not envy anyone having to explain how it has been rolled out and the initial shock to people. How candidates explain the promise that "you could choose your own plan"? These are simple things that everyone understands that are going to be hard to shake. This will be an election where Democrats are going to be playing a lot of defense.

There is one thing the roll out of Obamacare has definitely done. It has put some discipline in the ranks of the Republicans. Nothing pulls people together like a common enemy. As theory turned to reality, people have stopped messing around and rallied to this issue. The cranks are increasingly isolated. Donors are being smarter about funding stronger nominees. You can see it in the leadership of Congress and increasingly in the party leadership. 

Republicans are probably the only ones who can screw up this election. They certainly have it in their power to do so and have done it plenty of times in the past (see 1998 above). Even then, the challenge for Democrats relying on a purely negative message against Republicans is to motivate people to vote who usually skip the midterms. That is a hard road. All of the problems are for the GOP are still there and at least in Presidential level turnouts, promise to make the GOP a permanent minority if left on the current path. There is great danger in a successful 2014 being totally misinterpreted like 2010 was.
The award actually comes in the shape of a toe
We could be wrong, its been known to happen. In that case, we wanted to be first in line for the distinguished Dick Morris Award for extremely arrogant and incorrect predictions. 

But a word to the wise, save up those tips. It only costs $100 bucks to file, you could make history. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Don’t Make a Martyr Out Of Agema, Leave Him in His Selfish Little Bunker



Mission Accomplished folks, seriously.

With delicious irony, the leader of the narrow minded exclusionary club of the GOP has freed many good people from the tyranny of silent acquiesce and guilt by association. His terminal diarrhea of the mouth has awoken the sleeping giant that we so desperately needed.

Good and true, real Republicans across the state are going to take back the organization that gave this state the electoral victories of John Engler and the whole team. Betsy DeVos did Michigan Republicans an incredible service in speaking out when she did. The wheels are in motion and investments are being made to rebuild and broaden the party ranks. Many people, myself included, who have been guilty of skipping conventions, have seen the damage of that ambivalence.

In a larger sense, what Dave Agema has done has allowed for the “air to get of the room” so to speak for GOP activists. There were a lot of people who did not like what he and his ilk had to say or how they said it. Now they know they are not alone. Thank you Dave for this healthy exercise, it is good to see you finally bring value as our National Committeeman.

Best of all, the sun is shining brightly and clearly on Dave Agema and his lesser comrades right now.

One can only draw one conclusion, that Dave Agema’s definition of conservatism is the same as a liberal Democrat’s: “amoral total selfishness”

Under this twisted definition, Dave Agema has proved the ultimate conservative. His selfishness is unbounded.

This is not the opportunity society conservatism of Ronald Reagan, the welfare reform conservatism of John Engler or the limited government vision of a Thomas Jefferson. This is what liberals would like people to believe conservatives are.

When it was clear his comments were harming the Republican cause and it was articulated by the elected leaders of the party, what was his response?

He went further. Then he attacked a whole new group of people.

When the entire leadership structure of Republican Party nationally and statewide made it clear he was harming the Republican cause and its candidates?

He hunkered down and had a fundraiser for himself.

It should be recognized that Mr. Agema issued a sort-of "apology" on Friday. You can read it http://daveagema.com/press-release/01-24-2014/ for yourself. For me it is laughably self serving, far-far-far too late and if you read it closely doesn't really apologize...it attacks.

Fun fact..In this short statement (about 400 words) there are 14 I's 12 My's and 1 Me and there are a couple of talking about himself in the third person I didn't count. Your honor I submit this evidence into the record.....

The sun is shining on Dave Agema and everyone now knows that Dave Agema serves Dave Agema, not conservative or Republican causes.

Any person with a conscience would have resigned a long time ago but he will not. He cannot be removed. It is time for the rest of us to think smart.

There is a lot of talk about censuring Dave Agema. This is a very counterproductive move in my mind and could be just the lifeline he is grasping for.

It seems to me it would be a terrible idea to make him either a focus of sympathy, martyrdom or heroism to the misguided.

Leave him right where he is, isolated and discredited. Don’t give him a microphone or invite him to any event the bylaws do not require. Above all don't waste anymore energy on him that could be better used elsewhere.

There are those (ahem…you know who I mean) who would just love to build a whole movement and perhaps a campaign for LG around this issue. Don’t walk into that trap.


Filing deadline is around the corner, we have races to win. We expansionist Republicans types are into the whole “changing public policy” thing so sometimes we get distracted by the non-convention intra-party stuff that comes with elections to public offices….