Pelosi and the squad, Snyder’s civility, primary polling, reproductive rights, and State Rep Julie Brixie on the budget

July 15, 2019

Michigan Policast for Monday, July 15, 2019

Nancy Pelosi v ‘the squad'

“I understand what they’re saying. But we have a responsibility to get something done, which is different from advocacy. We have to have a solution, not just a Twitter fight.” ~ @SpeakerPelosi @aoc @IlhanMN @RashidaTlaib @AyannaPressley Click To Tweet

The findings:

Ocasio-Cortez was recognized by 74% of voters in the poll; 22% had a favorable view.
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — another member of The Squad — was recognized by 53% of the voters; 9% (not a typo) had a favorable view.

Racism, Trump, and ‘the squad'


Rick Snyder and Harvard

I look forward to sharing my experiences in helping take Michigan to national leadership in job creation, improved government performance, and civility.”

MSP pepper-sprays the crowd as a demonstration of Snyder's civility.

Very civil Legionnaires' disease

In an email to Harvard’s Kennedy School, Douglas Elmendorf, the school's dean, wrote that Snyder withdrew from his fall fellowship and that “we and he now believe that having him on campus would not enhance education here in the ways we intended.”

The notice made no mention of Flint, and soon scholars were encouraging each other to write to Liebman in protest. They and other critics pointed out that a 2018 report co-written by professors at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health found that Snyder “bears significant legal responsibility” for the crisis “based on his supervisory role over state agencies.” They also underscored the fact that Snyder’s phone was seized a month ago as part of an ongoing investigation into what happened in Flint. (Snyder has responded to related news reports as “sloppy and misleading,” saying that he turned in his state phone and “all that stuff” to Michigan's attorney general before he left office.)

Tiffani Bell, who runs a nonprofit group called the Human Utility for water bill assistance in Michigan and served as a 2017 Technology and Democracy Fellow at the Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, also started a petition to rescind the appointment. “Flint residents were actually expected to pay water bills for water they couldn’t and shouldn’t drink,” the petition reads. “To add further insult to injury, Snyder allowed the state of Michigan to stop providing bottles of water free of charge to families dependent on Flint’s polluted water.”

Who needs a pitchfork when you have a smartphone? … Snyder, who had previously been deemed too hot to handle by his beloved alma mater, the University of Michigan, had been asked by Harvard to spend a year on campus talking with students about the successes and failures of government.

He won't get that chance because an 11-year-old child, Mari Copeny, decided there will be no redemption for Snyder. Mari, known as Little Miss Flint for encouraging former President Barack Obama to visit the city, launched a Twitter protest under the hashtag NoSnyderFellowship.

It's very irresponsible of @NolanFinleyDN @DetroitNews to blame @LittleMissFlint and a social media 'mob' for @onetoughnerd decision re: @Kennedy_School w/no mention of the concerned scholars and leaders on campus. #FlintWaterCrisis Click To Tweet

Presidential primary candidates and the polls

Reproductive rights

State budget delays

Interview with State Representative Julie Brixie



Donald Trump 0:05
The kidney has a very special place in the heart.

Walt Sorg 0:09
More words of wisdom from our exalted leader to kick off this week with the Michigan Policast. I'm Walt Sorg.

Christine Barry 0:15
And I'm Christine Barry. We are still 200 plus days away from the Iowa caucuses, and 240 days away from the Michigan presidential primary, but the field of contenders may be shrinking fast.

Amy Kerr Hardin 0:27
I'm Amy Kerr Hardin. Governor Rick Snyder may be gone from Lansing, but the controversy over his legacy lingers on.

Walt Sorg 0:34
We begin with a DC controversy that has strong Michigan ties. Nancy Pelosi versus four super liberal freshmen members who call themselves ‘the squad.' The squad includes media superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, along with Minnesota's Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts' Ayanna Pressley and Michigan's very own Rashida Tlaib. They stood alone among House Democrats and voting against emergency appropriations for dealing with the Trump-created humanitarian crisis at the border. Christine, this really got out of hand fast, there was charges of racism and going back and forth. But I think Nancy Pelosi really exercised some very strong leadership and trying to tamp this down early and strong rather than following the example of John Boehner and Paul Ryan and letting it fester.

Christine Barry 1:19
What the squad, quote-unquote, brings to Congress is a lot of passion, very strong ideology, and a lot of followers on not just on social media, because that sounds like it's, it diminishes it, and I don't mean to but a lot of popular public support. And Nancy Pelosi is just a master strategist. And she doesn't necessarily disagree with them on policy as much as what I think they feel like she does. But she's got a job to do. She has to hold this caucus together and get legislation passed. And she's dealing with people like we mention all the time, Elissa Slotkin, we need her to be reelected. You can't cave to four people who bring a very progressive, a very exciting, I think, agenda to Congress, when you have an entire country to think about.

Amy Kerr Hardin 2:14
It concerns me that there might be a little bit of I guess you'd call it reverse ageism going on. I think a lot of millennials are turned off by Pelosi and the old guard in the way that they're treating these young women that have, you know, really have a strong voice that needs to be represented in Congress. She also scolded them over their use of social media recently. And that does not fly very well among millennials and probably Gen Xers.

Christine Barry 2:39
Well, I think she scolded them over the way that they were attacking people not that they were using it. Not even that they were talking about things important to them, but that they were taking shots at other people in the caucus,

Amy Kerr Hardin 2:53
That is a little bit Trumpesque,

Christine Barry 2:54
I don't think anybody wants to be scolded by Nancy Pelosi. So it was is, to me sounds quite cutting because she's very firm in the way that she presents herself. You know, there's quite a bit of pushback from Nancy, I want the squad to learn as much as they can. And to be able to, you know, work together with the other members and to not be isolated the way that we just talked about last week, Justin Amash was isolated from the caucus, he started,

Amy Kerr Hardin 3:23
yeah, that that is a problem. And I think that the media pays a lot of attention to these four women. And I think Nancy Pelosi has to be cognizant of that, too. That whatever she says and dealt with them is going to play out in the media. And they love controversy.

Walt Sorg 3:39
A poll released by Axios over the weekend, actually was a poll taken by somebody else but they published it, I think, is of concern to Pelosi and to the party, because it shows that AOC in particular, is becoming sort of the face of the party in Congress. She's got very high name recognition 74%, which is amazing for a 29-year-old freshman member of the House, which he's only got an approval rating of 22%. And the rest of the squad have much lower approval ratings. Omar, for example, was recognized by more than half the voters and had a 9% favorable view. And the other thing that concerned about his socialism is favorable for 18% of the voters and unfavorable by 69%. And that is the label the Republicans are already throwing around right and left for the campaign. That I think is what's gotten Nancy Pelosi really concerned

Amy Kerr Hardin 4:29
Walt, I know that Pelosi was accused of racism somewhat,

Christine Barry 4:35
I took that to be an offhand remark by AOC, where she was speaking to what Nancy had said, and then she said, ‘and to a woman of color,' kind of threw that in at the end of that comment. And I thought that that the accusations of racism kind of built up around that, but did not come from anyone actually in the caucus. I might have misunderstood or missed something, though.

Amy Kerr Hardin 4:56
It was overblown, that statement. But Walt, what I was going to ask you now that I got my words back, is do you think that there's some racism inherent in the polling figures? Because I think that the name recognition versus the approval rating is is really way, way out of whack. And I wonder whether there's just some, some inherent racism that, you know, happens among populist voters and so forth, even though they don't want to admit it. What do you think?

Walt Sorg 5:22
I don't think it's as much racist as it is the fact that they represent a fringe element of the party, and most people reject them philosophically, even though they know who they are, if you want some good racism, though, all we gotta do is go to the President, that makes it easy. He responded to all of this in his usual classy, measured, very subtle way by suggesting that the four of them go back to the country they came from and fix their countries, which is pretty hilarious when you consider three of the four of them were born in the United States and Omar, as a refugee from Sudan. She's an immigrant a naturalized citizen, but if she wants AOC to go back to where she came from, that would be Brooklyn. For Ayanna Pressley, it would be Cincinnati, and for Rashida Tlaib it would be Detroit.

Amy Kerr Hardin 6:06
And Rashida shot back this weekend at Netroots Nation on Saturday, she renewed her call for to ‘impeach the motherfucker.'

Walt Sorg 6:13
At least she's consistent. We certainly know that. Rashida's an interesting case, though, because she's almost an accidental member of Congress. We had an open seat in the 13th District thanks to the departure of John Conyers. She ran in the six-way primary and squeak through with 31% of the vote. It was Rashida Tlaib running against five African Americans in a district that's 55% black. I think she's in for big trouble in the next primaries. It's got nothing to do with this, and more to do with identity politics.

Christine Barry 6:42
That may be true. And that primary was an interesting one because that was when Rick Snyder refused to hold the election for John Conyers' seat in a timely manner, because he didn't want to cost Michigan the extra money. Remember that so the voters went to the polls to vote on two primaries. Brenda Jones won the primary to serve out the rest of Conyers term, and then Rashida Tlaib just squeaked out Brenda, by like 900 votes to win this seat that she has now. So if Brenda comes to back with consolidated support, as well as support from the House Democrats, which she might get, just because Nancy's having trouble with the squad, is that could be a problem for her.

Walt Sorg 7:26
Why don't we finish up this segment with Nancy Pelosi his response to Donald Trump's tweet, urging the women to go back to where they came from? “When @real DonaldTrump tells for American Congresswoman to go back to their countries he reaffirms his plan to make America great again, has always been about making America white again.”

Amy Kerr Hardin 7:49
Rick Snyder doesn't like it, but his legacy as Michigan governor will likely be defined by the Flint water crisis. Christine, we got more evidence this week of how the story continues to happen. Snyder seven months after leaving Lansing behind.

Christine Barry 8:02
And haunt him, it should. So here's what happened. Harvard's John F Kennedy School of Government offered him a fellowship. And this isn't uncommon. They often offer these fellowships to people who have been high profile policymakers. He accepts and he says this, he shares this statement. He's looking forward to sharing this way says “sharing my experiences and helping take Michigan to national leadership and job creation, improved government performance, and civility.”

Christine Barry 8:34
I don't know that that statement cut anybody the wrong way? It probably did. But what happened was shortly after that, his acceptance and it came out. Harvard leaders and scholars started to ask the dean of the school to rescind the invitation because they were concerned about Flint. There was some social media activity around it as well. And then there's the legal background as well, because as you know, in April, he was added as a defendant to the lawsuit. And in June, there was a warrant issued for all of the devices used by him and his staff. This is still an ongoing case.

Christine Barry 9:10
So a couple of weeks ago, Rick Snyder just came out and said that he withdrew from the fellowship. And it was because even though he was looking forward to it, he felt that there was just a lack of civility, and it made it impossible for him to go and do the job that he wanted to do. The dean of the Kennedy School of Government also said that just based on what was going on, he would not bring the experience to the students or to the school that they had first envisioned. So the Harvard and Snyder are no more.

Christine Barry 9:45
Now the editorial page editor of The Detroit News, Nolan Finley, put out a piece last week blaming all of this on social media. And in particular, he called out Little Miss Flint, Mari Copeny, she's 11 years old, called her out and said that it was because of her that all of this social media mob is how he described it, forced Rick Snyder to withdraw from this fellowship. It was a really irresponsible piece, I think because he called out this little girl. by name for one thing, but two, he didn't even mention the fact that Harvard, the actual, you know, staff of Harvard, there were concerns there. And that's where it started. I found that to be really just irresponsible on Nolan Finley's part.

Christine Barry 10:36
But I also thought that Rick Snyder really made a mistake in the statement he made in talking about sharing his experiences on improved government performance and civility. First of all, he never had a divided government. I don't think I remember Gretchen Whitmer came right out and said you guys never had a late budget with Governor Rick Snyder. And we all know is because he never had divided government. But he is the only governor I remember pepper-spraying citizens to keep them out of his office. Or, you know, the only one where the Republicans had to bring extra staffers into the Capitol building to keep the public out. That's not civility. And people remember that and improve government performance. I mean, we went without congressional representation in Detroit because he didn't want to spend money on this the election, he was overpaying bankruptcy lawyers for Detroit, schools were closing down, water was poisoned. I mean, come on.

Amy Kerr Hardin 11:31
And let's not forget about the emergency manager law that was repealed by popular vote and he reinstated it with just a couple of tweaks to it. So that was when the Flint water crisis took place, right after that. The emergency manager there was the one that diverted the water to the Detroit system.

Walt Sorg 11:47
He also was the governor who didn't have on his agenda, right to work legislation and then turned right around and signed it setting off a near riot at the Capitol and driving down wages in Michigan as we watched our schools go to hell as well.

Christine Barry 12:01
He didn't just sign it, he asked for it. He specifically asked them to send him a bill. So I'm fine with him not getting any fellowship anywhere now if he has, you know if he goes in as some kind of guest speaker that I think people could learn from him. But I would hate to see him rewarded with a fellowship as though his leadership is something to be studied.

Amy Kerr Hardin 12:25
let's say learn from his mistakes.

Amy Kerr Hardin 12:32
We can't have a podcast without little presidential politics. We are still months away from the first voting about 200 days until the Iowa caucuses and a full eight months until the Michigan primary. But the field is already shifting.

Christine Barry 12:46
Yes. In terms of total numbers, we had a little whack-a-mole with one candidate out. That would be Eric Swalwell. And we had a new candidate come in billionaire Tom Steyer. Walt, does this even matter?

Walt Sorg 12:59
Yes and no, it matters because Steyer's going to spend a lot of money and get a lot of attention for his views. But he and he's got an organization to he founded the Nextgen operation which created a large organization to get people registered. So he's got that base to work with. The challenge for him is is getting the number of people to donate so that he qualifies for the second round of debates. He certainly won't qualify for the first round of debates, for the debate in Detroit. But after that, when the stakes go up, you've got to qualify both on polling and not just having money because he's going to spend 100 million dollars of his own money, but you gotta have other people's money as well. You've got to have it from a lot of people. So that'll be a challenge for him

Walt Sorg 13:40
Swalwell, he was nice to have around for a little while, but everybody knew he was going nowhere fast. I think what is more interesting, really is the polling that shows that the field in terms of popularity seems to be really coalescing very quickly down to either a four or five person race depending on how you read the numbers. The latest NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll, had Joe Biden still in the lead with 26%, Elizabeth Warren running second 19%. Harris and Sanders at 13% and Pete Buttigieg at seven, and then nobody else, you have Yang and O'Rourke at 2%. Nobody else was at 1% even. And really, it's almost like it's a five-way race with Pete Buttigieg just barely hanging on for dear life. Is it? Is it premature to say that it's down to that few? Do you think it could shift us or somebody from that one of the one percenters or even the two percenters? Can they move up?

Christine Barry 14:36
It would be tough. It would be tough. Warren's on fire right now. Sanders already has his base Biden is Biden.

Amy Kerr Hardin 14:45
Yeah, I'm looking at the figures here for the head to head against Trump. And it's Biden Sanders, Warren, and Harris, ahead by nine Sanders by seven worn by five, with Harris only by one, which is well within the margin of error on that pole. So yes, she may be sinking while Warren is rising.

Walt Sorg 15:04
I think we're still seeing a lot of name identification and the falling to people still don't know who any of these people are other than Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. they're beginning to find out who some of the other folks are. But the debates are beginning just now to introduce them. And a lot of people haven't tuned in yet.

Amy Kerr Hardin 15:19
One of the concerning numbers out of the polling over the last week is that Trump's approval ratings are just south of 50%, which is the highest he's ever been. So I really don't know why his numbers are moving up while he's doing all these crappy things.

Walt Sorg 15:32
It's the economy stupid.

Amy Kerr Hardin 15:35
Yeah, that's the stock market. That's not the working Joe.

Walt Sorg 15:38
Yeah, that's true. But the thing he's got to be worried about, we've been in now into a, a climbing economy for 10 years, thanks to the Obama administration. And at some point, it's going to tank we are going to have a recession in the future. The question is, as it happened before November of 2020,

Amy Kerr Hardin 15:55
and we could be in for another real estate bubble here that which will trigger the recession like it's hit the last time.

Walt Sorg 16:05
Time for some quick notes out of last week's news as the late John McLaughlin would have put it, and if you remember john McLaughlin, you really are a PBS junkie.

Walt Sorg 16:13
Issue one: abortion. The latest polling shows support for abortion at its highest level in two decades. The post ABC poll finds a 60% majority that says abortion should be legal in most or all cases, up from 55% in 2013. And time the record high level of support from 1995 played a survey also finds 36% say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases tying a record low. Ladies, I'm a guy, you your gender, obviously, was the critical voting bloc in the 2018 midterms, recognizing the women don't all think alike on this issue or any other issue. What does this polling suggest to you for the 2020 campaign?

Amy Kerr Hardin 16:56
Some of the numbers that I found more interesting than actually just flat percentages, is the Democrats are identifying abortion is a voter driver issue for 2020. And there's typically more of a Republican issue to go, you know, to head to the polls, and also that 41% of respondents are not pleased with states tinkering with the right to choose independent women voters showed the strongest increase in support for abortion rights this time.

Christine Barry 17:23
You know, what really stands out to me is that once Kavanaugh was seated in the Supreme Court, and we all knew all of us who paid attention knew this was going to happen, Republicans the quote-unquote, pro-lifers, and they just went bad shit crazy. And they just started with these laws designed to ban abortion in almost all cases. And what this did was got people's attention. And prior to this, they had just done it smartly. They had just chipped away little by little by little restricting rights here and there and shaping abortion rights into something that was, you know, it was very hard to get the procedure done. They made it very painful to get it done. But they didn't take it away. They weren't using words like ban. They weren't saying overturn Roe v. Wade. And so I think this has knocked pro-choice people out of their comfortable numbness, if you will, to the abortion fight. I think it's going to galvanize the pro-choice people, the pro-life people are going to vote no matter what they're going to vote the way they vote. It's going to be the way that they always vote, especially the evangelicals who always show up to be about roughly 25 – 26% of the vote. But the pro-choice people will show up now. And I think that that's going to help that's going to lift the Democrats, I think.

Amy Kerr Hardin 18:45
while you found that it was 60% in this polling that support abortions. There was a poll a couple of weeks ago that we talked about on the podcast, where it's I think it was like almost just south of 80%, maybe 78 79% to support a portion in some form or another but not all the time. Not for every case.

Walt Sorg 19:06
A lot of it depends on how you ask the question. But no matter how you ask it, it is majority support for women having the right to choose to some extent maybe not to the extent that some would like but certainly that an absolute ban on abortion is opposed by a vast majority of people.

Walt Sorg 19:20
Issue two: the state budget. Governor Whitaker seems to be taking a page right out of the Harry Truman handbook lashing out at a do-nothing legislature. Christine, you pointed out to as a tweet from madam governor this week, that was a shall we say, a little pointed

Gretchen Whitmer 19:35
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Christine Barry 19:44
Pointed it was. It was interesting for so she's making the point that it's been a long time since she gave the legislature her proposal for a budget. And they just haven't responded in all this time. All this time has passed, 130 days. So it was I think very good PR, I think it was a very good use of social media. And it was a good way to remind people that she's done the job. She's doing what she was said she was going to do what they what we elected her to do.

Christine Barry 20:16
You did see some public pushback on this maybe that maybe you need to change your plan, that kind of thing. But that's really from the low informed voter, if you will, I don't even know that they're voters. But the people who don't recognize that the legislature has to respond in a responsible way and present their own plans. And I thought I thought it was a great move.

Gretchen Whitmer 20:39
126 127 128 129 130

Amy Kerr Hardin 20:46
Yes, it is their job. And in fact, the executive budget is more or less just a suggestion. It's, you know what she would like to see. And that's the case with any executive office. It always falls on the legislature to get the work done.

Walt Sorg 20:58
I will say in defense, a little bit of the legislature having worked there for a decade of my life, that it is a lot easier for a governor to reach consensus with herself on a budget than it is for 148 legislators to reach consensus on a budget. It is a difficult process. And the only way they can do it is with very strong leadership. When I was there, I worked for a very strong leader Bobby Crim, who was speaker of the house and we got it done, despite having a governor from the other party to work with. But the leadership in the current legislature isn't nearly as strong, partly because of term limits. And partly because party disciplined is a lot less than it was back in the day as they say, but still it is fair, it's a fair thing to say to the legislature, hey, this is your job. You're on summer vacation right now you haven't finished your job, you really should get back to work.

Christine Barry 21:47
For more insight into what is and is not happening on the budget, Walt checked in with Representative Julie Brixie of Meridian Township, just outside Lansing, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Walt Sorg 21:59
Julie Brixie, a member the House Appropriations Committee, I suspect a little frustrated right now with the lack of progress, not just on transportation, but really the entire budget in terms of the priorities of the governor ran out and that you ran on, compared to what the legislature so far has been willing to do?

Julie Brixie 22:15
Absolutely. You know, I didn't come down here because I needed a job or a title I came to Lansing to work for the people of Michigan and the people of my district. A big part of my frustration is the unwillingness of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to actually come in and work on the budget. We didn't get the budget done, I think that's, you know, understandable given that we have a new administration. But the fact that we're in recess, and there's no budget done is is really something that I think is the wrong the wrong approach to take and selling Michigan resident short.

Walt Sorg 22:54
That is one thing that the Snyder administration managed to get right. During its eight years, the budget was done in a timely fashion. And as a former local government official, you understand probably better than most how significant that is for local governments, and especially for schools.

Julie Brixie 23:09
Absolutely. The schools have been operating. They already have begun their new fiscal year. And they have no idea what to expect in terms of funding for the year that they're currently in.

Walt Sorg 23:22
Okay, let's talk transportation, that is something that the governor ran on fix the damn roads was basically her bumper sticker for the campaign. And all across Michigan, it's the same problem of just horrid roads. And it appears that your colleagues on the other side of the aisle are trying to figure out how to duplicate the miracle of the fishes in the loaves. They want to get the money for transportation without raising the money.

Julie Brixie 23:49
I could make a lot of comments about that, but I will refrain, you know, you don't get something for nothing. We've had 30 years of lack of investment in our infrastructure, and we've had eight years of unilateral Republican control. And we're operating our fine state, and the same budget that we were in the general fund in 1998. So I don't know about you all, but if you were trying to pay your bills, and feed your family and fix up your house and replace your roof, on your 1998 salary, I suspect that you might run into some snags.

Walt Sorg 24:33
As an alternative, one of the proposals that's been put forward that's relevant, blasted by conservatives as well as Democrats has been basically to bond and it's a complicated scheme to do this. But it amounts to really borrowing the money to fix the roads.

Julie Brixie 24:49
You know, we have to have good fiscal management of the state. We are elected to be stewards of the state and to have fiscal management and oversight of all of our assets. And the idea that we would consider borrowing against teacher pensions to pave potholes and to repair roads is frankly, seriously lacking and sound fiscal judgment.

Walt Sorg 25:20
The governor said it's something that came out of Rick Snyder's ashcan, his former chief of staff Dennis Muchmore says that that is something that they rejected out of hand when it was first proposed. Patrick Anderson, who worked in the Engler administration and economist said it's a stupid idea. But the fact remains, it's on the table,

Julie Brixie 25:38
it is on the table. And it's really unfortunate that it's on the table. I wonder if part of the reason it's on the table is that some of the folks in leadership probably do not have a memory of 2008 as as surprising as that might seem to folks like you and I that are a little bit more seasoned. I became Treasurer of Meridian Township in 2008. And guess what the whole global meltdown of the financial markets was caused by securitization. And that is exactly the same scheme that is being proposed and Michigan deserves better, I'm really surprised that my Republican colleagues, haven't grasped the take-home message that they lost all the seats at the top of the ticket because of the roads. And they're really at risk of losing many more seats in the next election cycle. If they don't face the facts, we have to fix the damn roads already.

Walt Sorg 26:38
Another one of their ideas, which is still on the table is to sell the Blue Water Bridge, which one doesn't really raise that much money in terms of the total need of the roads, and secondly, doesn't really seem to be feasible anyway.

Julie Brixie 26:54
Yeah, this is, this is an idea that one of my colleagues came up with, but the Republican budget passed by the House included this as part of their road plan. And it's deeply, deeply flawed, their their premise is that the sale of the bridge would, would net 500 to $800 million. And the first problem is, their whole transportation plan doesn't come up with 2.3 billion, which we need every single year. It falls far short of that, less than half of that, and it includes sale of precious Michigan assets. So you, you know the Why would you sell a bridge for a one time funding source when you need that much money every single year and more.

Julie Brixie 27:44
The second problem with it is that you have to go through some serious mental gymnastics to come up with some kind of a buyer who would be willing to purchase it, because there's a bunch of debt $135 million in debt that is connected to the bridge. And there are maintenance projects, you know, $70 million in redecking, and even if you said, okay, you could sell it for $500 million, it would take someone 62 years to see the return on investment at that price. And that's if they don't even do the maintenance of it, and you can't do maintenance, you can't like NOT do maintenance on a bridge.

Julie Brixie 28:26
So the other problem with the Blue Water Bridge sale, there's some real false assumptions in there on that value because we only own half the thing, we don't own the whole thing, Canada on the other half of the Blue Water Bridge. We can't sell the citizens of Port Huron and Michigan and the trade that comes through that intersection, we cannot sell that off for one year's worth of a quarter of construction projects that we need in a state.

Walt Sorg 28:57
As you mentioned, you were the Treasurer of Meridian Township outside of Lansing, part of you know, elected to the legislature, your township is actually voting next month on a bond proposal to fix local roads, I would assume in the belief on the part of your township board that the state's not going to do anything.

Julie Brixie 29:15
It's more complicated than that while but yes, they are proposing a $35 million investment in the road network in the township. And the way that the road funding formula works is that Ingham County receives the money from the state from the gas tax, and then passes that through to Meridian Township through construction projects. They only give the township $172,000 a year for the maintenance of local roads. Even if the gas tax were to pass, it still isn't going to address all of the local roads, it would address the primary and state roads. But it wouldn't, it wouldn't. It wouldn't go far enough. And I think it's probably really unlikely that we're going to see the full 45 cent gas tax at that level of an investment when we still have Republican control in the legislature.

Walt Sorg 30:18
Plus you also have the issue of whether the Republican legislature will change the distribution formula. So more of the money goes to where the roads are being used the most right now it really favors rural areas and lower used roads.

Julie Brixie 30:31
And you know, what's ironic is that the first there's a quarter mil a tiny little millage in Meridian Township currently for roads, which was passed way back in 2006. When the board at that time said, Well, this was is just a little stop gap to get us through until the legislature works out the funding formula. 2006, Walt. And that and that millage was renewed, and the township's been waiting and waiting and waiting, and they made the good decision that said they can't wait any longer. And they're going to go ahead and invest in the roads.

Walt Sorg 31:07
Very quickly On another subject. The majority, I think of the Democratic caucus in the house is women. And you are soon going to be presented probably with one or maybe two initiative petitions to basically ban abortion in Michigan or to severely restrict the rights of women to for health care in Michigan. You feel a little helpless as you watch this unfold.

Julie Brixie 31:29
Make no mistake. What's happening here in Michigan regarding the right to a safe legal abortion is the same thing that's happening all over the country. And it is a part of a coordinated national attack on women's right to health care. I am terrified of what lies ahead for women in our nation. Because of a loophole in Michigan, tiny fraction of the electorate will be able to collect signatures, deposit them with the legislature and the Republican-controlled legislature can simply adopt that. People signing these petitions think that they're putting something on the ballot. And they have no idea that the concept of citizen-led ballot initiatives can be end-run by the legislature and simply adopted into law without the ability of the governor to veto it.

Julie Brixie 32:31
So we have to stand up for women and stand up for the right to healthcare. Abortion is part of healthcare. And it's a valuable part I have received so many letters, Walt, from women who are in their 70s and 80s, relaying me horrible, horrific stories about terrible effects of illegal abortions that their families went through prior to Roe vs. Wade being enacted.

Walt Sorg 33:01
Representative Julie Brixie, you thank you so much for your time. And thanks for joining us on the pod.

Julie Brixie 33:06
Thank you Walt, appreciate it.

Amy Kerr Hardin 33:08
That's it. There ain't no more until next week. Our thanks to Julie Brixie for joining us. For more information on this week's topics, head over to Christine's treasure trove of links, videos, and show transcripts at

Christine Barry 33:21
If you've got something to say to us, please reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter, or email at

Walt Sorg 33:29
Join us next week when our special guest will be MSNBC commentator and former Republican political consultant Mike Murphy, the Michigan native it's been a senior campaign advisor to John McCain, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and earlier in his career with Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham and Governor John Engler.

Amy Kerr Hardin 33:46
On behalf of Christine Barry and Walt Sorg, I'm Amy Kerr Hardin. Thank you for sharing a part of your day with us.


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