Whitmer’s first year, election updates, reproductive rights. Riley Beggin joins us

January 6, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, January 6, 2020

  In this episode:

  • Larry Inman recall efforts still going
  • Gov Whitmer's first year job performance
  • War on women: GOP goes after reproductive health
  • Updates on Citizens Redistricting Commission, NRAV, and Michigan demographics
  • Under-covered stories in 2019 and predictions for 2020
  • Interview: Riley Beggin of Bridge Magazine
  • Podcast recommendations
  • Transcript


Jump to:

Larry Inman recall efforts still going

Gov Whitmer's first year job performance

In the most recent poll, conducted in August, 46% of respondents said they had a favorable impression of Whitmer, while 27% said they had an unfavorable impression, and the rest did not know or would not say. On Whitmer's job performance, 43% gave her a positive rating and 45% gave her a negative rating. Source



War on women: GOP goes after reproductive health

Updates on Citizens Redistricting Commission, NRAV, and Michigan demographics


Under-covered stories in 2019 and predictions for 2020



Interview: Riley Beggin of Bridge Magazine



Podcast recommendations




Gretchen Whitmer 0:05
We might live in divisive times. But Michigan's problems are not partisan. potholes are not political, or better skills, or great schools for our kids. I will be a governor for everyone. And we owe it to the people we serve to cast partisanship aside, to roll up our sleeves and to build bridges to gather

Walt Sorg 0:34
one year ago, a new governor with hopes for a different governing ethic in Lansing, and the majority leaders of the new legislature from the other party. Well, they talked the talk as well.

Mike Shirkey 0:44
We're in the same game together. And that is do we can make Michigan great and great tour, removing obstacles preventing people from reaching their highest level of personal productivity. And there's no reason for us to not start the year looking toward that

Lee Chatfield 0:57
though. We come from different parties. We're on the same team. And that's the team Michigan and we'll we'll go toe to toe on some issues. We'll have our differences, but those differences won't be what define it. So to be our ability to come together and come up with solutions for our sake,

Walt Sorg 1:09
but did they walk the walk? That no look ahead at the battles for 2020 years, we launched a new year the Michigan polycast. Happy New Year. I'm Walter org.

Christine Barry 1:18
I'm Christine Barry 250,000 Michiganders are getting mailed invitations to apply for the new systems redistricting commission. one of several structural changes in our electoral system that will define the decade of the 20th

Amy Kerr Hardin 1:33
I'm Amy care harden the battle over the rights of women to control the reproductive health is escalating in Michigan and nationally, we'll take a look at where America stands on the most volatile political issues.

Walt Sorg 1:44
Later in the pod will be joined by bridge magazine Capitol reporter Riley beggin she's profiled a year in the professional life of the woman we call hurricane Dana, Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nestle, and will offer our predictions for 2020 Oh, that'll be a lot of fun. You don't want to miss that. But ladies, let's begin with the unfinished business of 2019 issues that got a lot of attention in the year but remain unresolved. One of them partially vindicated state representative Larry Inman, when last we chatted in men had been acquitted of lying to the FBI about bribes solicitation, but got a hung jury on the underlying charges that he tried to strong arm labor unions are giving him sizable campaign contributions in exchange for his vote on repealing Michigan's prevailing wage law. Meanwhile, the state elections office had disqualified an effort to recall inven because of a typo on the recall petition. Okay, Amy, that's, that's a lot. I know. He makes you proud to be your state representative. What's the latest?

Amy Kerr Hardin 2:42
Last week, Michigan Supreme Court reinstated Larry Edmonds recall, lower courts had rejected it due to typos. But the High Court found that the errors did not affect the intent and meaning of the language, which is actually a very good ruling. I think that's probably more important than anything to do with Larry's recall. Then is have been facing criminal charges as you said, and the courts tossed the blonde lying to the FBI, but they did like extortion and bribery. So prosecutors may take a second swing at that the Board of state canvassers found a petition drive lacked sufficient valid signatures. I think they were 94 shorts after using a sampling. That's how they do it. They don't check all 13,000 signatures. They just pull you know several hundred and then get an idea of how many do not qualify. So the recall group intends to fight that in terms out in November of 2020. it's doubtful home run for the Senate, but Republicans have been experienced a little bit of a nutty since 2016. So who knows?

Walt Sorg 3:45
Oh, that would be entertaining. The Speaker of the House has said that Larry Inman has disgraced the house does not meet up to the standards that he would expect and it's called on him to resign. Do you see any movement to force him out the the legislature the house can expel it? just takes a simple majority vote, the speaker said we're going to expel him he would probably be gone.

Amy Kerr Hardin 4:05
I don't know. I imagine Chatfield is going to wait to see whether the prosecutor is going to refile on to the extortion and bribery charges. But they have political considerations at this point, as we know, because admins turned out if they remove him from office, you know, I don't know how that's going to play out politically whether that's going to give a democrats time to surge because the hundred and fourth is now a purple district.

Walt Sorg 4:30
That's going to be an interesting sure they'll probably continue to play out right up to the primary. And I would assume that'll be a major issue in the primary to even though he won't be on the ballot. Certainly the issue will be on the ballot. Yeah. Meanwhile, we've still got the budget was at a standstill after a week's long showdown between governor Whitmer and legislative Republicans. Christine, they always anti democratic detroit news editorial page says the governor's first year was a failure. To me it was more of an opening act and a longer running reduction, your thoughts?

Christine Barry 5:01
Well, definitely not a failure from my perspective. But you know, let's acknowledge something here, Nolan Finley is the leading conservative voice here. And he's never going to say anything positive about the accomplishments of a democratic woman, unless she's a republican male. So that's just all there is to it is really it his there are a lot of conservative writers who are very objective. And, you know, their commentary is really well thought out and balanced that I just don't think that his is, and he, he talked primarily about she lost on the budget issues, and she lost on not fixing the road. And one of the other editorials was a bit more balanced. It brought in public comments that were both favorable and unfavorable. And I think that her approval numbers show that people really don't know yet after this first year, she has pretty good approval, I think at 46%. But there's a lot of undecided and, and I think she's in the 20s for unfavorable I don't recall exactly

Walt Sorg 6:01
next spring, though that could really change is the pothole season begins right now. The roads are kind of okay, because we haven't had the potholes exploding again. But come next spring, it could be a different story.

Christine Barry 6:13
Well, let's take a look at what she did do though she managed those weather emergencies. That was critical. And that was just within the first weeks. She was in office. She was really, I think courageous and bold with that 45 cent gas tax proposal. Same thing with the vaping and the public health emergency. She really pushed back on the legislature's efforts to diminish the Attorney General and the Secretary of State and to try to take over the citizen redistricting committee. And you know, just with the budget process, she fixed those budget bills they said over at the last minute, and some of them were just really flawed the Department of Corrections. We talked about this before, where the republicans didn't even use the right numbers to start. So she had a number of Things that I think she did really well that were really important. But they weren't PR victories. Because if you look at what the republicans do, and here's, here's where I say, Nolan family's kind of biased, he comes in and says, well, the republicans just sit back and declare to win on that budget. Well, they didn't they they went out on a really aggressive and unfortunately, really well executed communications campaign, if you will, they redefined the phrase record funding, so that they could say she vetoed record funding. Well, it was record funding, if your record is only going back a short period of time, that campaign that they they ran was letters to the editor with social media, that kind of thing. It was really nasty and sexist from my perspective, and it relied on these lies about record funding. And it used really nasty language like I mentioned earlier, they you know, they tried to diminish her executive authority with the State Administrative board can decision us about that saying that it was unprecedented, even though governor Engler basically did away with general assistance using the same kind of thing. And they you know, Mike Shirky, Good Lord, he went out and said, words like batshit crazy, and he wasn't in any hurry to work with the governor on the budget, he didn't feel a timeline on roads. And I think that if there was any failure in this first year, it was just on the part of the whole democratic system, her support system to not effectively match that PR campaign. So like you I don't think you can say this was a win or it was a loss. I do think that there were a number of successes. I think that they felt each other out. She pushed back on some really important things. I couldn't call it a failure of a year. But I do think they'd better get better at that communications game, because the republicans are really good at it.

Walt Sorg 8:49
There's an excellent summary of the unfinished business of the legislature and the governor in the current issue of bridge magazine, which will link to on the website, but the issues that she campaigned on still works in progress. Transportation, though I think is going to be really sticky. Everybody says, first of all, they got to get it done early because of the election coming up. And now you've got Peter Lucido, he was on the public televisions off the record over the weekend. And what he's basically saying is we can fix the roads without raising taxes, which is utter horseshit. You're not gonna, that's not gonna happen. It's the miracle of the loaves and fishes. If you do that.

Christine Barry 9:23
I don't know what he means by fixing the roads, then. That's just not possible. Unless you want to do away with it. What can you do away with public schools? I don't even know how to fix how you would do that. Unless you're fixing the road this saying, okay, we're going to fix the ones that are in his, you know, 50% better, you know, are 50% good. We're going to fix those in this region.

Walt Sorg 9:50
But in urban areas in Lansing, 75% of our roads in the city of Lansing are graded as poor.

Christine Barry 9:57
I think that he has to explain what he's done. Talking about when he says fix the roads? I because that doesn't make any sense to me. I you can't fix them all with bubble gum. So how how's it going to do it?

Walt Sorg 10:08
The state's general fund budget is about $10 billion. It's been there. For the last decade, it's been $10 billion. It doesn't go up or down very much. And the estimate for what's needed for the roads is two to two and a half billion dollars a year. In other words, 20 to 25% of the total general fund budget of the state of Michigan is needed. So what are you going to cut to get 25% out of the rest of government to fix the roads?

Amy Kerr Hardin 10:34
Yeah, it's a pipe dream. In rural Michigan. What they're doing is they're taking paved roads and turning them back into gravel. Just because they can't they can't afford to fix the potholes. So it's easier to just great the roads up.

Walt Sorg 10:48
Yeah, some of the other issues that are pointed out in the bridge article, which we really won't get into today, I guess but do have to be dealt with by the legislature for saw a gun safety legislation. If anything holding the line because there's Actually efforts to make it easier to have guns in an unsafe situation to eliminate the licensing for concealed carry is the biggest one, of course, and also to allow concealed carry in places like bars and schools. And they will point to that situation in the church down in Texas and use that one example to say See, that proves the whole point. And it's always dangerous to legislate using anecdotes and isolated instances.

Amy Kerr Hardin 11:27
That's an anomaly. Definitely. I mean, that's statistics do not bear that out.

Christine Barry 11:31
But look at who that was. He was a former reserve deputy is a firearm instructor mean this this guy was trained properly to use that gun. So taking away the only training that's required in Michigan so that you can carry a gun does not protect you the way that that man who had decades of firearm training and he was volunteer security for the church. I mean, it's not something that is a fair comparison or an intellectually honest comparison. So? Well, I agree Yes, they're going to use that story. That isn't an accurate comparison.

Walt Sorg 12:08
You've also got the battle over government transparency and Government Ethics. were basically Mike Shirky is against most of the ethics package. But he is talking with voters, not politicians, among others, some government reforms. Meanwhile, the house is overwhelmingly passed open records legislation that would impact the governor and the legislature right now. They're exempt from FOIA. And the Senate's got no interest in that. Shirkey's got no interest in financial disclosure for public officials. He says quote, it just gives the media fodder to go have fun, give me a break.

Christine Barry 12:43
I love sometimes doing your job is something the media is interested in. It's his job to do these things that he did say at one point he said something like every law that's made is a Liberty reduced for a person or a Some something like that, indicating that the more you legislate the less Liberty there is for the individual. But that was like the same day he said he was going to take up the right to life petition if it had enough signatures and adopt it as law. So

Walt Sorg 13:15
and that's something that's in question right now they'll be working on the samples for those petitions is going to be very close. And you're going to have the folks that are against that led, of course by Planned Parenthood, challenging every signature on those petitions, that's going to be a very nasty fight. I suspect it'll end up in the courts before it gets to the legislature,

Christine Barry 13:34
fingers crossed.

Walt Sorg 13:40
The combination of gerrymandering and the mitch mcconnell Supreme Court and Donald Trump has given new energy nationally and in Michigan, to stripping women of their own reproductive rights. Amy, you've been looking at a new report on the state of reproductive rights just how bad is it?

Amy Kerr Hardin 13:56
It does seem to be a war on women being waged largely by each angelic roles who are willing to turn a blind eye to Trump's decidedly unchristian behaviors. I mean, we could just tick them off right now. caging babies assaulting women, racial slurs, insults, fomenting violence, criminal activity and trampling the constitution and they really don't give us lying. You know what about any of those things? As long as he stacks the courts in hopes of overturning Roe v. Wade, the Guttmacher institute a reproductive health organization has been tracking state after state abortion bans designed to produce a Supreme Court challenge. In 2019 58, new abortion restrictions were enacted, with 25 of them banning virtually all abortions. Many of these laws intentionally lack basis and medical science. Some laws claim counseling patients undergoing medicinal abortions can reverse the procedure after they've already taken the pill. One law called for reimplantation of ectopic pregnancies and the uterus. Both of those things are medically impossible. possible. On a brighter note, a number of states have moved to protect reproductive health rights. Illinois, New York, Rhode Island and rematch pass laws affirming a woman's right to choose. The assaults additionally prohibit unwanted unwanted counseling, which is little more than overt conversion. Right to left Michigan, as we discussed in the previous segment recently submitted their ballot proposal signatures to virtually ban abortion after a few weeks of gestation. I can't emphasize enough that the battle in Michigan is twofold reproductive rights are clearly under attack. But so is our democratic process. Republican lawmakers planning to exploit a constitutional loophole to enact the abortion ban based on petition signatures. They know that the law would be challenged and they hope it reaches the supreme court with Roe v Wade where Roe v Wade will come under scrutiny. 10 other states have been forced to suspend similar laws and the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal filed by L Alabama, of course, it's Alabama. But if the states are wrestling with the issue, they may put it on the docket. So it remains to be seen. My concern is not just the reproductive rights. It's it's truly that, that the republicans are using that loophole in the Constitution. And maybe we should consider closing that loophole.

Walt Sorg 16:17
We've got a gender gap already, which shows that women are overwhelmingly supporting democrats now, especially suburban women are used to be with Republicans and men are leaning towards Republicans. You can see it in the president's approval ratings. You can see it in congressional approval ratings. Do you think that this situation with reproductive rights is going to widen that gap even further?

Christine Barry 16:38
Well, I think it has to it sounds like the country is polarizing around certain issues. Women's Health is by far more important to women than men. Obviously, not all but you know, as a nation, that's how it is. Men are going to look at other things they're going to look at, you know, the economy seems strong. I'm just guessing that if you look at the issues that divide us on along gender lines, then, you know, this is definitely one of those issues.

Walt Sorg 17:10
And you throw in the rush to war that the president apparently is launched. And I haven't seen any polling on it yet. But my suspicion is, he will find that he has much more support among men for going to war against Iran than he does among women. That has always been the case with the wars. And it's especially the case with men who know that they're not going to be called to serve.

Amy Kerr Hardin 17:30
Yeah, old white men.

Christine Barry 17:36
2020 is, of course, a presidential election year and we're going to get to the presidential race in a moment. First, though, there are some election adjacent events in Michigan that will shape a lot of elections. Well, let's start with some mail that's gone out in the last few days.

Walt Sorg 17:52
Well, it's sort of like the Publishers Clearing House. There's been a lot of people getting things in the mail and inviting them for good things in the future. One out of Every 30 registered voters in Michigan is getting a packet from the Secretary of State inviting them to apply to be on the citizens redistricting commission. 250,000 letters have gone out with the applications. And the constitutional amendment requires that Jocelyn Benson get at least 10,000 applicants for the convention. So they will keep going out. You can also go on to our website and just nominate yourself as well and fill out an application or somebody asked me Well, are you going to apply? And the answer is no, I can't. Because we wrote the constitutional amendment in a way that somebody who has been actively involved in partisan politics as I have been, simply cannot be on the commission. And that was very, very intentional. So there'll be a lot of interest in that already. They've had several thousand applications, so that the interest is out there. And if you happen to be one of the people who gets an application or you're interested in thinking about it, at least, the gig pays $40,000 a year.

Amy Kerr Hardin 18:54
Yeah, my daughter is applying for it and she did not hear she didn't hear about it from me. She heard about it somehow through perhaps social media, or news alerts or something like that. So

Walt Sorg 19:05
She heard about it on our podcast,

Amy Kerr Hardin 19:07
there you go. Yeah. But um, she was asking me, how do I apply? I want to do this.

Christine Barry 19:12
And one of my friends was invited to apply. He was so excited. He put it on Facebook. He'd be great at it. He's really thoughtful. And he's not partisan at all.

Walt Sorg 19:21
Yeah, well, the ultimate commission is going to be for Democrats for Republicans, and five not affiliated with either of the two major parties. And it's by self declaration. So that's how that's going to work. fill out the application. If you get one, folks, it's a fascinating way to be a part of your government have a huge impact. Something else is gonna have a huge impact is the ramifications of proposal three passed in 2018. The most important thing that you can vote from home vote by mail with for any reason you want, you just have to fill out an application. And we've seen in some municipal elections, where the courts have really promoted this that 70 75% of votes now are being cast through the males rather than Then by going to the polling stations, not only does this probably increase turnout make it easier for people to vote. It really changes campaigns. It used to be a candidate with time, their mailings and their campaign pushes around the election day. And they'd had that big mailing like a week before the election. But now the voting starts 45 days before the election, and it's going to have to change the tactics of candidates running for office. We're also going to see a lot of people registering to vote on the same day, same day registrations legal now the legislature forced people who register on the same day to go to their clerk's office. They can't do it at the polling station, which was the hope of the people who passed proposal three, but still, that's going to increase the number of voters as well. early indications are that it's really impacting young people that figure out a week before the election that they want to vote, and they haven't registered well. Now they can

Christine Barry 20:51
well I'm super excited about no reason absentee because so many people can't get the day off from work or, you know, like when when we go to vote every year. When we go to boat in general, in November, it's raining and you have to walk in the rain in the dark every year. That's just how it is. So now that didn't stop us ever from voting, but certainly that nobody really likes to do that. So, you know in Michigan is a cold time of year and yucky weather. I think that no reason absentee is going to be great. And you could go in and live, say you plan to be out of town and get away with it and get an absentee ballot.

Walt Sorg 21:31
Yeah, guilty, right.

Christine Barry 21:33
Just coming right out and saying you don't have to have a reason you have the right to vote this way. I think is a great step forward. I'm so glad we did that.

Walt Sorg 21:40
Yeah, the next logical step is to eliminate polling stations completely do everything by mail. They do it in four states already. It works. It increases turnout is a lot easier. And on top of that, it saves money. And it's also unhackable. The Russians can hack your mail,

Christine Barry 21:55
We'll see.

Walt Sorg 21:57
They'll probably figure that out as well prioritize the mail on the Figure out how to hack that. One other event this year that is going to have a huge impact on our state. And the entire nation is the census. The preliminary numbers indicate as we've known all along, that machine is going to lose a seat in Congress. And that's going to set up a really interesting 2022 election because there is nobody a pool, apparently, the voluntarily leaving Congress, so you're going to have at least one incumbent versus an incumbent race as we lose one of our congressional seats. My guess is you'll end up seeing Elissa Slotkin and Tim Walberg, running against each other. But I could be wrong since we don't have a redistricting commission yet. Who knows how they're going to write the districts. But I think that's the most likely outcome, where you're gonna have those two running against each other if they both decide to run in 2022.

Christine Barry 22:44
Yeah, the population drain and in particular, the brain drain that you're seeing some data now for Michigan. This is an opportunity for us to talk about why we need to refresh and rebuild our infrastructure here because if you look at people who are really looking for opportunity, they're looking for places that have good infrastructure, like really solid broadband, really solid electrical grid roads. And we're underfunding our educational system as well here. So there's no surprise to me that we're, we are still losing people. And that immigration has slowed since Trump as well.

Walt Sorg 23:21
Yeah. But sadly, one thing that'll probably help us is the fact that climate change makes our water more valuable and more interesting. You're going to be seeing drought in the south and the Southwest. And right now they're the ones that are picking up seats. Texas is picking up three seats in Congress, Florida is picking up to and most of the losses of seats are in the industrial Midwest and Northeast,

Christine Barry 23:43
kind of the Rust Belt really. So are you thinking that the population will shift back our way in another 10 or 20 years?

Walt Sorg 23:52
Well, it's where the opposite is where the opportunity as our population soared with the automobile industry. We had a huge migration from the south to into Michigan to build automobiles during the post World War Two growth of Michigan. And as the jobs moved further south, and the weather got better in the south, people started moving south. And I think as climate change makes Michigan a much more attractive place just to live in a much more tolerable place to live, that it's going to work to our advantage. And again, I say, that is a horrible way to gain population because it means we'll be having big problems elsewhere in the country. And we're going to have problems with Michigan too as well. We'll talk about that a little bit later.

Amy Kerr Hardin 24:30
We're going to have water wars eventually and Michigan could be ground zero.

Walt Sorg 24:34
Yep, absolutely.

Amy Kerr Hardin 24:40
Voting for president begins in less than a month in Iowa, followed rapidly by the primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina. The Nevada caucuses, then Super Tuesday in which 14 states will vote including delegate rich Texas and California, then comes Michigan. Let's begin our 2020 predictions for that. Primary. There are 18 Democratic candidates on the Michigan ballots, although some of them are no longer running, what candidates will still be in the hot by then? And who wins Michigan? Christine?

Christine Barry 25:11
Well, I think it's safe to say that Sanders, Warren and Biden will still be competitive. I think Biden will win he's ahead in the polls right now, the misjudgments and arrows from the 2016 polls that had Hillary winning over Bernie, I think those have been corrected. And what's going on and then Iran could play a big role in moving some undecided toward Biden away from Warren I don't know about Sanders is his people are nuts, they're gonna stick with him no matter what.

Walt Sorg 25:44
I will take your list of three and add to it Pete buttigieg, because he's raising money very successfully. And I will also add the two billionaires because they're billionaires and don't have to raise money and money is really what keeps you going after the first few primaries. If you haven't got the money for your Staff, you haven't got money for advertising, then you're out of the race. So that's what killed Kamala Harris. Even though she was relatively popular and was qualifying for the debates. She didn't have enough money to continue her campaign. The top three will definitely still be in buttigieg will definitely still be in. There's a possibility Amy Klobuchar will be in, but I'm not certain if she can get to Michigan, she'll be in good shape because she should be very strong in Michigan. But my prediction is Bernie Sanders is going to win the Michigan primary. The reason being one they're going to be so a lot of candidates who are actively running so that splits the vote, and he has got the most dedicated base and the strongest base. I think his ceiling is low, but his base is very high. And 25% should be enough to win the Michigan primary.

Amy Kerr Hardin 26:44
I echo that I think it's going to be Sanders. I think that's Amy Klobuchar is a very good running mate choice. So she's just so solid and she's a good speaker and she really knows her stuff. I'm hoping that's Biden. Just kind of fades into the woodwork at some point. I'm afraid that he's not electable against Trump and I know that Sanders is at least the polling indicates that so I'm really pulling for Sanders to win in Michigan and everywhere else and and i i'm not Berniecrat by any means. I mean, I just came around to that opinion within the last week or so.

Christine Barry 27:22
But even with a fresh war in the mix, you think you think Bernie remains strong among well beyond his base?

Amy Kerr Hardin 27:29
Well that's true, Yeah, Biden will be in the ascendance if we go to war with Iran and and that becomes problematic calm, it'll bring the masculine vote. And as we were discussing,

Walt Sorg 27:40
as long as we're wrong in our presidential primary predictions, let's do some other predictions as well where people can laugh at us later. Some quick reflections and predictions. First, an interesting question. I the guys on pod save America use this question. I really thought it was a good one. That is what do you think was the most undercover news story of 2019 that deserves more question. prominence in 2020, Christine, you can start.

Christine Barry 28:02
Yeah, that's an easy one for me hunger in Michigan, the school lunches, the SNAP gap. All of that comes into play here. Almost 16% of Michigan kids face hunger at home. And nationally, this is actually a high number. And we don't see much coverage around this unless something happens. The problem is we have too few families submitting applications for free and reduced lunches in school. Meaning that the people who would benefit from that program just don't they just leave themselves out of it. And that's a parental issue. So there's there are mechanisms in place to help the kids who need the help. And because hunger is such a big problem in Michigan, we need to talk about how schools can be a partner how other community services can help with that. And we should talk about the fact that the hunger rate is also tied to diabetes and obesity and other healthcare issues. And if we talked about hunger and covered it like a health crisis, which I believe it is Then we would get more people using the resources we already have out there, we'd have more attention on it. And when I think we would really start making some significant moves towards dealing with this,

Walt Sorg 29:10
Amy, what story do you think these workers deserve work average of 19?

Amy Kerr Hardin 29:15
Oh, I've got a couple of them. And I'll be quick about this charter school failures and funds wasted. It brings to mind the Free Press Expo, say from what, five, six years ago, perhaps it was that was, you know, very, very extensive about how bad the charter schools are in Michigan. And I'd like to see that again, it's just has not been covered as much. And that's probably due to there are fewer journalists able to do that type of, you know, in depth long form journalism. Another thing is voter voting machine security. It just has not been covered enough. And I imagine here's here's my prediction that it will be covered a little bit more and as our 2020 you know, progresses and then also the April 1 census. I haven't seen too much of that over the last year but that should ramp up here in the next couple of months.

Walt Sorg 30:02
For me, I'd say the impact of climate change on Michigan and our economy. So far the news coverage is focused on the impact elsewhere the horrible wildfires in Australia and California, powerful hurricanes and the Caribbean, horrific flooding and much of the country. The impact has been much more subtle Michigan, the most obvious impacts on our agriculture industry which has been transformed by extreme climate shifts. But climate change also has huge implications for our greatest natural resource the Great Lakes were already seen more violent activity on the state's was shoreline with homes falling into the lake is bluster eroded, a friend of mine who lives on Lake Michigan has moved her lakefront home about 100 feet to the east. She's worried she's gonna have to move it again. And just last week, we had a teenager swept off a pier by high waves on Lake Michigan, who ended up drowning in Lake Michigan, which is horrible. And there's going to be growing pressure as you mentioned earlier to divert water from the Great Lakes Basin to other areas as droughts become more widespread, plus the impact on our tourism industry if our lakes start drying up or the pollution increases in the lakes because of the changes in temperatures that could have an effect on us economically as well. So let's set ourselves up now to look foolish next December my making a prediction for 2020. Remember where the people who have confidently predicted Donald Trump would never face impeachment. Christine, you can make the first wrong guess.

Christine Barry 31:22
Okay, well, let me preface this by saying I also predicted that Snyder would never touch right to work, and that Hillary would win Michigan. So but my thoughts on this Chatfield, I think is going to tie himself to Trump and Pence as much as possible throughout the year. And Shirkey is going to continue grandstanding right to life petition will be adopted by the legislature, gun and ammo proliferation efforts, and it's just going to be a year of a lot of chumming the base.

Walt Sorg 31:56

Amy Kerr Hardin 31:56
what I've been thinking about just the presidential race, and we are already touched on this on the previous segment. I'm predicting that Bernie Sanders will not only take Michigan but will win the election, please. But as we discussed, it depends on what's happening with Iran in you know, with a little wag the dog situation going on and, and anything could happen it's it's it's a mystery it's a black box.

Walt Sorg 32:22
Yeah, I think it's safe to say that we haven't even seen yet the issue that Donald Trump will come up with for the election. It's going to change completely by the time that's over. But my prediction is back to Michigan and our damn roads, the governor will definitely propose a new plan to fix the damn roads probably in the next couple of weeks. But the legislature will again failed to come up with a plan that can pass by the end of the year we'll be talking about a petition drive to enact a graduated income tax written in a way that guarantees adequate funding for our infrastructure, both roads and the underground network of water lines and sewers.

Christine Barry 32:54
You know, we're running out of time for them to come up with a plan so that we can act on it before It's time to spend the money during the road fixing season.

Walt Sorg 33:03
It gets more expensive every year to about four years ago, it was proposed that the gas tax be raised three cents a year for three consecutive years and that nine cents would have been enough to take care of the problem. Now, the 45 cents that the governor proposed a year ago isn't enough, because every year the roads get worse, the cost gets higher,

Christine Barry 33:24
and then they deteriorate to the point where repairing them isn't possible. So part of that cost getting higher is just that those roads have to be replaced out.

Walt Sorg 33:38
Former Michigan Attorney General Frank tell you served in the job for a record 37 years turned 95 on New Year's Eve. Long time ago. He told me his job was more powerful than that of the governor because he could act independently in his priorities. in your first year on the job Attorney General Dana Nestle is live those words with an agenda that prompted us to nickname or hurricane Nestle someone who has been tracking this Storm all year joins us now. She's Riley begging of bridge magazine. Riley, thanks for joining us today.

Riley Beggin 34:05
Hey, happy to be here.

Walt Sorg 34:06
Last April you wrote an article titled Dana Nestle Michigan's brash Attorney General plows through Lansing is Nestle now begins or second years has the headline changed?

Riley Beggin 34:16
you know, a little bit, I think I would say it's a little bit more nuanced. Now, in her first few months in office, she kind of tackled some really high profile and kind of fairly partisan initiatives. I think, you know, the focus of that story and a couple of the stories I did early in the year we're looking at how much she kind of reversed some initiatives put forth by former Attorney General Bill Schuette. So you know, she she really reverse some of his lawsuits on you know, LGBTQ rights and the environment and issues that are really closely held to her and and are pretty different than his.

Since then. I would say She has focused a little bit more on, you know, that consumer rights focus that you noted that she that she has said in the campaign was really important to her. You know, she she was working on the Catholic Church abuse case, the Flint Water case, which we can get into the MSU investigation. So a lot of these are sort of, in a way bipartisan, not necessarily something that she campaigned on because all three of those investigations I just mentioned, were started on her former Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Walt Sorg 35:33
Something else that she adopted from the shootie. Rain is Attorney General, although the priorities was different. We're waiting into federal issues. She got involved in a lot of federal lawsuits as to choose just a matter of which one she chose to get involved in.

Riley Beggin 35:47
Yeah, exactly. So you know, she decided to get involved in lawsuits defending the Affordable Care Act and Bill Schuette did the opposite. He was in multiple lawsuits trying to stop the affordable Care Act despite the fact that, you know, former Governor Rick Snyder was pretty supportive of expansion here in Michigan. You know, early on she joined cases to defend the Clean Power Plan, which is an Obama era rule, you know, Garza versus Azar, which is to protect abortion for undocumented immigrants, all sorts of cases kind of like that.

Walt Sorg 36:20
Her signature campaign is she was probably shutting down the Enbridge line five pipeline across the Straits of Mackinac, that's still working progress. Is it something where she was a little naive will going in or it's just a matter, she figured I might as well take a harder approach to it. It's gonna be tough.

Riley Beggin 36:35
Yeah, I mean, I think that that was really one of her signature campaign items. She was much more strong on that out different even then Governor Whitmer was on that, even though governor Whitmer has certainly supported Nestle in that really wants of this lawsuit. But yeah, we haven't seen much movement on it. I think a part of that maybe is that it's more complicated than just One lawsuit.

Walt Sorg 37:02
One thing where she has been much different from Bill shooty has been in or public outreach. She noted in her year end report that she's beefed up her communications program significantly. She brought in a high profile communications director and Kelly Rosman McKinney. And you and I both know just from getting our press releases, the woman is constantly putting out information on what she's doing, is that making a difference? It's just a matter of style that really doesn't have a whole lot of impact on how she gets the job done.

Riley Beggin 37:31
It's hard to tell I mean, I certainly found them pretty easy to to contact, at least I would say Dana, Nestle herself is a little bit media shy, she kind of has decided that she would rather do some of these big round up press conferences than individual interviews and she doesn't really get on the phone with reporters that often but they're, they're certainly quite accessible from a public-facing standpoint, I know that she has made a point to open up some hotlines related to hate crimes and release Catholic Church abuse. And they say that they're getting a lot of interaction on that front. But I personally have have not seen the records on that. But they definitely are saying that they're getting some interaction on it.

Walt Sorg 38:19
Even before she came into office, the legislature was trying to rein in her powers trying to take away some of the things the Attorney General could do unilaterally. There was some compromise there. How are her relations now with the legislature? Are they still rocky or she managed to mend some fences with the republicans?

Riley Beggin 38:36
I think it kind of probably depends on the republican that you're talking about. You know, she has always had a good relationship with Speaker of the House, Lee Chatfield, because they see eye to eye on criminal justice reforms. And that's sort of a general trend that's happened in the first year of divided government here as well that you know, Republicans and Democrats are Interested in know, reducing the prison population and things like that related to criminal justice? You know, she has an ongoing feud with Representative Beau LeFave from the up, but I think that she started off with a particularly fiery, you know, relationship with the legislature. She kind of fought publicly with Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirky. It feels like things have died down a little bit on that front. I think a part of that is that she's picking her battles a little bit with the legislature more so. So the sick leave and minimum wage ballot initiatives that the legislature decided to pick up and then amend last year, that strategy ended up being the source of some contention and she was asked to give an opinion on whether or not that that was legal and she sort of said, Let's send this to the Supreme Court and let them decide. Rather than making a Her own judgment on it. The Supreme Court ended up sort of kicking it back to her. But that could have been one thing where they looked at that and said, okay, maybe she's sidestepping, this fight,

Walt Sorg 40:12
something that's probably a little more subtle, that is a little more subtle, basically, in the way she's doing her job is the fact that she was elected with less than 50% of the vote. It was the closest statewide election by far. And is that tempered her a little bit? Or is she just been, what the heck I won doesn't matter if I won by one vote or by a million votes, I'm going just going to go balls to the wall and let it go.

Riley Beggin 40:36
I would definitely say the latter. You know, I have not heard mention of that really at all since the election, and she has pretty much gone full bore into pursuing what she said she went on the campaign trail.

Walt Sorg 40:51
You've got a great quote in the article you wrote last April. Quiet is not really my thing. That really seems to describe her whole style.

Riley Beggin 40:59
Yeah. Exactly, you know, she she really is this pretty unique public official in that way. She's She's unapologetically progressive. And I, you know, I noted in that article that sometimes that led to some public fights, you know, on Twitter and otherwise clashing with with some folks in the media and in the legislature. And she really doesn't seem to mind that element that's that's really her style. And I think we saw that from the very beginning with that ad that campaign at that she put out early on that got that attention.

Walt Sorg 41:40
Yeah, if you don't want these problems, elected Attorney General without a penis, and that's got a lot of national attention. I'll save you the effort of saying that.

Riley Beggin 41:51
Thank you.

Walt Sorg 41:52
You're welcome. She's also has been very outspoken I probably two of the most contentious social issues of our time. LGBT rights and reproductive rights, and she makes no bones about her position on it. And certainly that is not something that's going to endear her to a lot of people on the other side of the aisle.

Riley Beggin 42:09
Yeah, no, that's definitely true. And we have seen that come up multiple times she clashed with US District Court Judge Robert Yonker over LGBTQ adoption. You know, she said early on that if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, she's going to ignore the law that exists on Michigan books that makes abortion illegal, or I guess she rather said I will not prosecute an abortion case, which a lot of Republicans at the state level interpreted as her saying, I'm going to ignore this. That's something that's definitely been a source of contention. But she again, you know, made that clear on the campaign trail, is that something that was important to her

Walt Sorg 42:53
as we look back at 2019, you've covered a lot of different issues for bridge magazine, and of course, your colleagues at The other media has covered a lot of issues. But what's been really under covered in your estimation from the last year?

Riley Beggin 43:05
There are a couple things. I think that, you know, we haven't followed up on that are worth exploration. Again. The unemployment insurance agency scandal is kind of one thing that I think will be worth looking into again, like what is going on with that case? I know there are still some people who are seeking restitution there.

Walt Sorg 43:30
Okay, let's look ahead to predictions that I would remind you, this will be recorded, and you'll be held accountable for it at the end of the year. What's your prediction for 2020?

Riley Beggin 43:39
You know, I don't think this is necessarily a prediction, but it's something that I'm going to be watching closely as we go into coverage in 2020 is how some of the changes that were brought about by proposals, three are going to affect the 2020 election in Michigan. And what we're already seeing in terms of trends for some of these smaller elections that happened across the state in 2019. Or that a lot more young people are taking advantage of that absentee voting is through the roof. It'll be interesting to see what that for the 2020 election, if there are more young people coming out, and if there are more people who work odd hours that are taking advantage of some of those changes, it could be an edge for Democrats. But we're going to see how it turns out.

Walt Sorg 44:32
Riley Beggin, thank you so much for joining us and we should put in a plug for bridge magazine. It has been the Michigan newspaper of the Year for I think the last three years and with with good cause to you guys do a whole lot more covering the policies that impact the state than probably anybody. Thanks so much for your efforts.

Riley Beggin 44:51
Thank you so much, Bob. I appreciate it.

Walt Sorg 44:58
There are an estimated 800,000 In podcasts out there, we thank you for listening to this one. Most of them disappear within a matter of weeks, which is why we take a little pride in wrapping up our first year, spouting our thoughts and providing a little information for you. The Michigan Policast may be the most important podcast ever, but we thought we'd share with you some of the other podcasts that we listened to that we think are worth checking out. I will start with three documentary style podcasts that are absolutely riveting bag man hosted by Rachel Maddow is an in depth look at the story of vice president Spiro Agnew who was a thoroughly corrupt sleazeball, who almost became president of the United States because as president was Richard Nixon and on his way out of office through impeachment, moonrise is a really cool series developed by the Washington Post, which tracks the story of the space race from the days when space travel was strictly science fiction through Neil Armstrong's one giant leap for mankind. And the one I'm listening to right now, which is just amazing. Ronan Farrow's The Catch and Kill Podcast is the amazing story behind the story of Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and the reporting that took them down.

Christine Barry 46:07
Those all sound really, really good. We have so many good choices out there. There are some great ones in Michigan as well to that I'd like to recommend are back from the holiday yet, so I'm going to wait on those. But I have one recommendation today. It's dark net diaries. And this is a cyber security podcast. But it's not about the technology. And it's not in any way technical to the point where it would go over anyone's head. These are the stories about real events. So for example, one episode is called the indo Pak conflict, which is all about the hacking that goes on between India and Pakistan and the role of Kashmir. And if you're interested in what cyber war might look like for us in the future, this is a really interesting podcast. It also talks about Magecart and how these hackers are using your credit card numbers. It's really good stuff and it's all Very easy to listen to narrative.

Amy Kerr Hardin 47:02
I've got a number of podcasts. One of my favorites is the raunchy genius of Dan Harmon, the creator of Rick and Morty. His podcast is called harmontown it's definitely not rated PG. So be prepared for that. There's a lot of swearing and raunch in it, but it's fun. Anything by crooked media meaning pod save America pod, save the world love it or leave it are great. And making sense podcast was Sam Harris. The exact opposite of harmontown is very brainy, dry and pedantic. And it covers a variety of topics. It's very long form, usually about an hour and a half. He's a professor, so he sounds like a professor. And then also resistance live with Elizabeth cronies, McLachlin. She's currently behind a paywall on Patreon, but I think the threshold is very low, just a few dollars a month to get into listen to that one. And then I wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention my daughter's podcast Marsfall. It's a sci fi drama And it's very, very good. They're on their second season already. It's very professionally produced.

Walt Sorg 48:05
Oh, that was a Hunter Biden thing you get to promote the family wonderful.

Amy Kerr Hardin 48:10
And with that, it's a wrap for the first Michigan Policast of 2020. As always comments, questions, criticisms, and whatever are welcome. Email us at mipolicast@gmail.com. We've got links to much more

Christine Barry 48:24
information on all of today's topics, including our recommended podcast on the web at MichiganPolicast.com.

Walt Sorg 48:30
And if you've made it this far, say something nice about us on iTunes. Steve Jobs will be pleased.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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