This is why Michigan should not be electing attorneys general: “Schuette said he would stop closing prisons in the state, releasing prisoners early and laying off cops on the street” (Detroit Free Press’ coverage of the state Republican convention).
Bill Schuette is a veteran politician. I’m sure he knows that the AG really has little to do with prison policy or the hiring decisions of local governments. Yet he makes these claims anyway because he knows that voters don’t have a clue what the AG really does. He can play to the crowd — I’m tough! — without having to make a single tough decision.
There was chatter over the summer that Democrats in the 8th Congressional District would turn to Ingham Circuit Judge James Giddings as a replacement candidate against Mike Rogers. Giddings, went the story, would be picked by party leaders to replace Kande Ngalamulume.
There may be a complication to that, or may not be.
The most recent edition of National Review magazine has an important article on the impact of public employee pensions on government budgets. The problem, though, isn’t with the stereotypical government bureaucrat. The real costs are found with the men and women in uniform: police officers and firefighters.
Among the more notable passages is this: “The public/private disparity is especially stark when one focuses on public-safety compensation in places such as Oakland (Calif.), police and firemen have accounted for about 75 percent of expenditures from the city’s general fund over the last five years. Average total compensation for an officer in Oakland — a city in which the median family earns $47,000 — is $162,000 per year.”
Only Rick Snyder really knows why he chose Rep. Brian Calley, R-Portland, as his running mate — assuming the published reports are correct in that Calley is the choice.
From intermittent interaction with the second-termer, I can say that Calley seems less eager to draw attention to himself than other lawmakers. And he has been pleasant to deal with professionally.
Back in May, I posted material to my blog mentioning that a local political firm was touting a poll that showed its candidate in the 33rd Senate District was up by a huge margin over Calley. I noted that I had no knowledge of the quality/accuracy of the poll, but there it was.
Calley e-mailed me and in a professional, reasonable tone explained his side of things: It was a push poll. His internal polling had him up 24 percent. He wasn’t demanding any type of coverage, just providing information.
If you base your views of police forensics on “CSI,” hope that you never find yourself the target of a real-life forensic investigation.
Bill-paying taxpayers might lose their lunch over this little Social Security loophole.
Regular readers know I’m big on natural gas as a fuel for power plants, even fleet vehicles. Part of my optimism is built on the technology to acquire so-called shale gas. This hydrofracturing technique is not without its critics, however.
I’ve written about or linked to items that take a positive view of the housing situation in Michigan. So as not to be called Pollyanna, here’s a different view embedded in the latest national housing numbers.
They are grim. I think the pithiest comment in the piece is this one: “Unfortunately it is a situation where we can’t have a meaningful recovery without a meaningful consumer recovery and we can’t have a meaningful consumer recovery without a recovery in housing. The best thing you can say about housing is that it is going sideways, and unfortunately right now it is sideways to down.”
There seems little doubt that Democratic officials are behind the effort to put an official “Tea Party” party and candidates on the Michigan ballot. It’s plain electoral mischief, to be sure.
But why all the fuss? After all, Great Britain has been trundling along for years under the burden of frivolous electioneers. This website lists a few in the UK, along with silly parties in other countries. “The Mongolian Barbecue Great Place to Party party: it stood in the 1997 election, scoring just 112 votes in Wimbledon, [The Daily Telegraph, ‘[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1997/04/20/ne520.html Fringe party candidates set record]’, April 20 1997].”
The Board of State Canvassers rejected the “Tea Party’s” application, on grounds that electoral expert Mark Grebner labels as “flimsy.” Yes, Grebner is a Democrat, but he’s not exactly a cheerleader for this effort.
Over at the rightmichigan blog, the commentary on this carnival show has a much more serious tinge to it.
Are we all peeved because of a shared lack of confidence in the Michigan voter? I have no doubt that the folks behind this effort are trying to siphon votes from Republican candidates. But this is an utterly transparent ruse, so it should not have any impact, right?
The point is to vote for the person who you like on the issues, not on a particular name or slogan.
Of course, the real farce is having a state panel deciding ballot access whose membership is set and controlled, by law, by the two major political parties. If that’s not a conflict of interest, I don’t know what is.
When I hear someone argue in favor of reducing government's social service role, I wonder about the ability of private charities to pick up the slack.
Here’s what I think may be an example:
In 2003, the LSJ wrote a story about the creation of a 211 info line for social services. The piece says, “Costs to run the 211 centers range from $120,000 to $400,000 a year. Many of the centers are funded by Untied Way or state and federal grants.
“Money for mid-Michigan’s helpline hasn’t been set aside, but officials believe they can get funding, possibly through a mix of local charitable foundations and private funding.”
I guess we are on Plan B.
Over at Ingham County Commissioner Andy Schor’s blog, he reports that the county is shifting money around to help out the 211 line: “The Treasurer said that he works with them often because of foreclosures and other issues where people run into trouble and need their help. He moved $5,000 from this fund, which was added to the $35,000 that the county gives them for operation of this phone number and staffing. I raised several questions about if Eaton and Clinton counties put in money for this. Apparently they put in a little, but not much.”
I have to look into this a bit more, of course, but it seems pretty clear that the original idea of a 211 system largely or totally independent of taxpayer help is dead and buried. I didn’t realize that was the case. I doubt other Ingham County taxpayers knew about this, either.
With an amateur interest in architecture and as a believer in building communities that work, I must say that any predicted demise of McMansions will get a big cheer from me.
I am known to watch a little HGTV and am amazed and depressed by the number of people who have convinced themselves that a 3,000-square-foot house is the right size for two people. When you see these McMansions on such shows, I always note that the families often fail to, or lack the ability to, actually furnish them. They’ll stick one or two chairs in a room that’s 20x30 and call it a day. It looks like anything but a home.
Our house is 1,350 square feet, which seems fine for two people. I’d like to tinker with how the space is organized, and, yes, maybe another 500 square feet would be nice, but who wants to mess with 3,000 square feet, or more?
Derek Melot, Columnist Derek Melot has been a columnist and assistant editorial page editor at the Lansing State Journal since 1999. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The premise of "Just Asking" is just that: Asking questions and raising points of information to help mid-Michigan residents better understand, and better lead, their public servants and public institutions.