Whitmer’s big week, 2A sanctuaries, Detroit transit, healthcare accessibility. Guests Dr Farhan Bhatti and Renard Monczunski

February 10, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, February 10, 2020

  In this episode:

  • Governor Whitmer delivers SOTU response
  • Governor Whitmer's 2021 budget proposal
  • Guns and 2A sanctuary cities
  • Healthcare for all with Dr. Farhan Bhatti of Care Free Medical, Dental and Vision in Lansing
  • Quicktakes
  • Interview:  Urban transit with Renard Monczunski of Detroit People’s Platform
  • Transcript


Jump to:

Governor Whitmer delivers SOTU response

'We want you to love who you love, and to live authentically as your true self. And we want women to have autonomy over our bodies.' ~@GovWhitmer http://bit.ly/2UDUXcDClick To Tweet




Governor Whitmer's 2021 budget proposal

'This administration has made pretty clear that we are going to take action and use the authority that the people of Michigan elected us to use.” - @LtGovGilchrist http://bit.ly/3br81rw. #FTDRClick To Tweet

Guns and 2A sanctuary cities 

Interview:  Healthcare for all with Dr. Farhan Bhatti of Care Free Medical, Dental and Vision in Lansing





Work in Progress: Urban transit with Renard Monczunski of Detroit People’s Platform



Walt Sorg  0:00

The presenting underwriter of the Michigan Policast is Progress Michigan providing a strong, credible voice that holds public officials and governments accountable and assist in the promotion of progressive ideas.


Gretchen Whitmer  0:13

You can listen to what someone says but to know the truth. Watch what they do.


Mitt Romney  0:18

The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The President's purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.


Walt Sorg  0:42

It's been a Romney dominated week. Michigan native Mitt Romney defies Trump by putting principle over politics and the current occupant of the building named after Mitt’s father, Governor Gretchen Whitmer response to a presidential state of the tantrum speech with a touch of quiet stability. This is the Michigan Policast, our weekly chit chat about Michigan policy and politics along with the national news impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I’m Walt Sorg.


Christine Barry. 1:08

I'm Christine Barry. In addition to her national TV debut with the state of the state response, Governor Whitmer hands the legislature a budget that invests heavily in education.


Amy Kerr Hardin  1:17

I'm Amy Kerr Hardin.  An upper peninsula legislator loves his guns but apparently doesn't know how to store them. And a handful of Michigan counties are being pressured to enact what amounts to meaningless gestures, declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries


Walt Sorg  1:33

We’ll also take a look at the health care debate from the grassroots level talking with the leader of a large nonprofit clinic that plug some of the holes in the medical safety net. And our Work in Progress segment this week focuses on transportation justice, how activists are responding to poor and getting worse public transportation. Let's begin though with the State of the Union message response. The Washington Post fact checkers found 31 lies or deceptions in what amounted to a one hour+ campaign speech in front of Congress, Nancy Pelosi ripped up her copy of the speech and discuss. Governor Gretchen Whitmer provided the Democrats’ official response on national TV focusing on Donald Trump's perceived strength: The economy.


Gretchen Whitmer  2:14

It doesn't matter what the president says about the stock market. What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don't have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans or prescription drugs. American workers are hurting in my own state, our neighbors in Wisconsin and Ohio, Pennsylvania and all over the country. wages have stagnated while CEO pay has skyrocketed. So when the president says the economy is strong, my question is strong for whom? Strong for the wealthy, who are reaping rewards from tax cuts they don't need. The American economy needs to be a different kind of strong.


Walt Sorg  2:57

I found it really interesting that she pointed out that the economy wasn't as strong as Trump claimed in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. What a coincidence, you will pick those states.


Christine Barry  3:07

One of the things I was most impressed with was the humanity of it. “We want you to love who you love to live authentically as your true self.” that impressed me more than anything about the economy, just the contrast in decency between Whitmer and Trump. I'm not feeling the squeeze of it, the economy and I think that, you know, obviously the economy is going to resonate with more people.


Amy Kerr Hardin  3:32

I found it interesting that she did get in a couple of jabs, but she stuck to the kitchen table issues, the fundamentals, instead of focusing on Trump and his Twitter feed, but she did get in this nice jab. Um, she said bullying people on Twitter doesn't fix bridges, it burns them. And that was a really good burn, I thought.


Walt Sorg  3:51

And she also went after the Republican who was despised more than any Republican in the country. Our good friend, the leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell.


Gretchen Whitmer  4:00

Who fights for working hard working Americans?  Democrats do. In the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and democrats pass a landmark bill on equal pay. Another bill to get 30 million Americans are raised by increasing the minimum wage and groundbreaking legislation to finally give Medicare, the power to negotiate lower drug prices for America's seniors and families. Those three bills and more than 275 other bipartisan bills are just gathering dust on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. Senator McConnell, America needs you to move those bills.


Walt Sorg  4:40

I think the polling is showing the McConnell in fact is the weak link for the Republican Party nationally that he is disliked even more than Nancy Pelosi was disliked in her heyday when she was the official Boogeyman for the republicans to lash out at think he can be a real problem for him. Especially with you know, Trump was talking about the do-nothing Congress will do nothing Congress is doing nothing because of his buddy Mitch.


Amy Kerr Hardin  5:03

tangentially I found it ironic that after witness read bottle, that's the share of the Michigan Republican Party referred to as partisan.


Walt Sorg  5:13

Go figure, hard to believe she would give a partisan speech that was labeled as a Democratic response. And of course, Donald Trump's speech was very right down the middle, although compared to the thing he did the next day, that mishmash in the in the White House. Oh, my God, you talk about a stream of consciousness intervention. That was the most bizarre thing is well, I've seen a lot of bizarre things, obviously with this White House. But that was right up there.


Amy Kerr Hardin  5:37

Yeah, it was looney tunes.


Christine Barry  5:39

I don't think it was anything different than what we all expected was it? I mean, if you pick the very worst thing that you can imagine, and add a dash of crazy, you know, that's what he's going to do.


Walt Sorg 5:51

Yeah but do you go to the National Prayer Breakfast to announce that you hate people, and that you dislike people who pray?


Christine Barry 5:57

He does move the goalposts on what crazy is, on what deplorable is.


Walt Sorg  6:04

It reminds me remember that speech he gave right after the inauguration when he went over to the CIA stood in front of the stars that represent all of the officers that were killed in the line of duty, and basically talked about how big a crowd he had at the inauguration.


Christine Barry 6:17

Just so embarrassing.


Amy Kerr Hardin  6:19

Well, that's what happens when we have a malignant narcissist in the White House


Christine Barry  6:23

Say what you will about him we know we know that we didn't support him and we don't have to take on that shame for ourselves.


Walt Sorg  6:30

Okay, one touch of choir so the United States Senate on the Republican side, perhaps the only real touch of class came from somebody who was born in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, moved on became very wealthy. Governor of Massachusetts, United States senator from Utah presidential candidate Mitt Romney


Mitt Romney  6:48

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the president from office. The results of this senate court will in fact the appeal to a higher court, the judgment of the American people, voters will make the final decision. Just Is the president's lawyers have implored my vote will likely be in the minority. But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children, that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more, no less to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will not merely that I was among this introduced who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.


Walt Sorg  7:30

When he talked early in his speech about how this was all based on his fundamental core religious beliefs that he had taken an oath he choked up. And that was broadcast a lot actually measured. It was a 12 second stop in his speech, because he really was emotional about the whole thing. It really didn't surprise me. I had the privilege of getting to know a little bit at least both of his parents when I was a very young reporter, covering the Capitol, and George Romney and Lenore Romney. Were probably pretty proud. That was exactly the ethos That they tried to instill in their children. And that's the way George Romney lived. And I think it was probably in a lot of ways, even though Mitt’s probably going to be trashed, but Well, he was already being trashed by the Trump supporters and the Utah republican party and everybody else. But I think that may be the high point of his career.


Christine Barry  8:15

Well, what Mitt Romney did when when he stood up there and, you know, spoke his truth was, he made sure a whether whether this was intentional or not, it probably was and he made sure that Donald Trump was the first president who had bipartisan support for impeachment, and conviction, even though it didn't go anywhere. And probably Mitt Romney wasn't thinking about that. That probably wasn't his intent. That's still a first in American history that's on the record.


Walt Sorg  8:48

The State of the Union response was at the whole show for Bovernor Whitmer. Last week. She also released her recommendations for the new state budget, budget number two of the Whitmer regime. Christine clearly the big takeaway from our proposals a big increase in support for K 12. Education.


Christine Barry  9:03

Yes, that is the big takeaway this week, you know, we could do a whole show just on the budget was focused on k 12. This time, but I'll definitely have more links in the show notes. 20 years ago, in 2000, the general fund was at $10.7 billion. Last year, it was at $10.8 billion, and this year, we're at $11 million. If it had kept up with inflation, it would be $16.5 billion. So I just want to you know, this this level set at where we're at with this $2 billion of the budget is going to be diverted for certain things like roads, mega tax credits, local governments reimbursements for business tax cuts, that kind of thing, will have another $600 million that will be diverted out of the budget for various cost increases that are that are kind of normal. And this budget is really taking these things into account as well as planning for future budgets to kind of reduce the stressors of you know what We'll have in the future.


Let's talk about education. Now, this year, she put in an increase of 4.1%, which is the largest increase to education since 2002. When there was a 4.6% increase. She has, they've added a you know, they've beefed up I guess you would say the weighted foundation for K 12 funding. weighted foundation means that people who need more will get more so you know how some students cost more to educate people as special needs or English as a second language kids, people who are at risk costs more to deliver a quality education to those kids. And these increases support that through this weighted foundation. A big part of the program is expanding the Great start readiness program. So that makes preschool more accessible to children who live in high need districts. And it increases the full day per child rate for preschool. So it's the same as K 12 base allowance. This is the first increase of this since 2014. So that's a big thing. too,


There's a piece in there for teachers support, which so I know it's going to be greatly appreciated. This reimburses teachers, for classrooms, surprise supplies, it helps schools with recruitment and hiring. And then it's designed to build up a pipeline of qualified teachers, for our schools through what's called the teacher cadet program,


Walt Sorg  11:24

given the antipathy of Republicans towards the Michigan Education Association. Do you see a possibility the republicans will try to take that tiny item out of the budget just out of pure spite?


Christine Barry  11:34

I think so. Because you have to look at the other things that are going on in the budget. They're only giving like 15 million to Pure Michigan, you know, the republicans want more than that. There is 100 million for business investment, you know, it's to attract business to the state is what that piece is to incentivize job creation, that kind of thing. You know, there are just things that the Republicans are going to want the don't have anything to do with what the governor wants for education.


And Mike Shirkey just came out with an op ed, of course, blasting Whitmer for the third grade reading law that she said she didn't really support, talking about how important literacy is and everything. So he's probably going to use things like the support for teachers. And there's a piece in there for the Michigan reconnect program, which helps adults get the skills that they need to get into a new in demand or high demand job. It's tuition free for the adults and the adults being 25 or older. It's one of the things she's talked about since the very beginning as part of the education plan, and in fact, the thing, it is one of the building blocks of her plan to get everybody up to 60% higher education. She has higher education and skills training in there and I think those are the kinds of things that make Mike Shirkey and Lee Chatfield will leverage to get this thing That they want.


Walt Sorg  13:01

Well, it certainly speaks to her priority. She took care of as much of the roads as she could without the legislature's help through the bonding program, which is now getting some advertising support through a pack, which is supposedly independent from, although I doubt that it is quite honestly, it's being run by Rick Wiener former Republican* state chair former chief of staff to Jennifer Granholm. But that being said she took care of the roads issue. And her other big promise during the campaign really was to focus on k 12. Public Education, not the charter schools, not the non-public schools that want to get a piece of that state budget but on public schools and specifically our getting money into the classroom. I think that small amount of money that she's got there just to reimburse teachers is really important symbolically as much as anything.


Amy Kerr Hardin  13:46

Christine, we've discussed in the past. I know that you're on a school board that the discrepancy the disparity between the budgets, years for public schools and for the state. Could you discuss that just briefly, just to you know, refresh people on That very difficult thing.


Christine Barry  14:01

What it comes down to is that we have to have our budgets prepared before the state does. Because of that calendar requirement. We don't know how much funding we are going to get. So for example, in this past year, we ended up doing four different budgets with various contingencies. This is a lot of time taken away from actually improving our schools and working on schools.


Because of the nature of how we have to, when we have to pay our bills versus when the state disperses money. We often have to borrow money from the state and pay an interest on it. It's really a strange calendar, a lot of time is sucked out of the actual school district work and funneled into dealing with state processes. Because our calendars are like incompatible, really, for the work that we have to get done, you know, this republican animosity toward labor unions and the MEA in particular and this issue causes a lot more problems than their what they think they can solve by getting rid of a labor union.


Guns gun deaths Second Amendment hunters NRA, put it all together and you've got ‘controversy stew.’  One of the most divisive debates in our politics, fueling this fire our local politicians eager to show that they love guns. Amy, you've been following this pretty closely. Let's Let's begin with the latest craze in some circles, which are these gun sanctuary counties.


Amy Kerr Hardin  15:36

There's been talk of legislation making Michigan a sanctuary state for Second Amendment rights as numerous counties around the state are considering adopting proposals to that effect. State Representative Phil Green said, quote, We are consistently seeing our rights as Americans, and especially the Second Amendment role, constantly erode End of quote. I don't know What country he's been living in put in the United States and in Michigan, there's been nothing but expansion of gun rights over the years.


Much of this snowflake every second amendment hysteria is spurred on by some sensible and broadly supported measures being enacted in Virginia. Background checks and red flag laws really set them off apparently, trigger the Second Amendment people.


These sanctuary resolutions are largely symbolic because the Second Amendment is a constitutional question and it's only really subject to judicial interpretation. Nonetheless, county board meetings across the state have been packed with camo-wearing old white guys demanding their elected officials pass the Second Amendment purity test. In the meantime, one Upper Peninsula lawmaker came packing heat to the State of the State address. Representative Beau LaFave brought the sidearm as a message to Governor Whitmer about his second amendment rights. And then a couple of days later, someone broke into his Lansing house and stole his weaponry. Guess he wasn't practicing safe storage after all,


Christine Barry  17:05

That wasn't just a sidearm that was a that was a rifle that he slung what and it just hung there in front of him like a genital. And it's not the first time that he brought it that he brought, he brings it all the time to the Capitol. And by all the time, I mean, anytime there is some event where he can be seen in a picture with his stupid genital rifle hanging in front of him.


And, you know, he's talking about if she's going to take our guns, then let her start with me. So he's taunting people with pictures of this big gun. There's nothing trying to take a gun. I think what they're talking about. There's like a red flag law and she talked about background checks and that kind of thing, but there's no threat, and he's out there flaunting this rifle. And in my opinion, it's no wonder somebody went and took it from him because if you talk about the firearms that you have at home, you become a target for burglary.


Walt Sorg  18:00

Especially when you leave, it's now outside rather than in a gun safe. what's ironic about this is my state representative put a sign on our office door declaring her office to be a gun free zone. And she was ordered by the Speaker of the House to take it down. Because that was a threat to some of her constituents. This yahoo walks into the capital, I think was an AR 15 he was carrying and they've got no problem with that. There's also a regulation at the Capitol for citizens who come in there to demonstrate you can bring in weapons, but you can't bring in a sign.


Christine Barry  18:31

Wow, just have to get a bigger weapon so I can write more on it, I guess. So come in and protest with it. Now. Let me talk just real quick. Lee Chatfield has always said that the answer to gun violence is to take action on mental health issues and not address any sort of quote unquote, infringement of the Second Amendment. So here's the thing. There's a House Bill 4283 from 2019. It's a red flag bill that allows families and law enforcement to petition A judge to restrict firearms from someone who has demonstrated that he is dangerous to himself or others. So you're talking about people with PTSD. They may be suicidal or something. And there's a there's a family who actually got this rolling because they had a member of their family who was very suicidal and they went from gun store to gun store begging people not to sell him a gun, and there was no law to protect them. So that's kind of how this got started.


That bill died in committee it died in judiciary under Lee Chatfield’s watch. So if anybody cares, they should contact Lee Chatfield and asked him if the answer to gun violence is to take action on mental health issues, then how come that red flag was still sitting there that would help people with those mental health issues — @LeeChatfield on Twitter.


Walt Sorg  19:52

Much of the discussion on the Democratic presidential debates has been over healthcare with the debate over Medicare for all versus making changes Is to Obamacare, something that gets overlooked often as the efforts of the Trump administration to just get rid of health care completely for millions of Americans. We mostly talk about this at the 30,000 foot level. But what does it mean for lower income working people and the folks that are providing them health care along with the families to get a ground level view of the healthcare debate, I visited with the director of one of Michigan's largest nonprofit health care clinics, Dr. Farhan Bhatti, who runs carefree medical, dental and vision here in Lansing, which provides comprehensive health care for thousands of patients every year, patients who are uninsured or underinsured and might otherwise do without the health care that they need.


I suspect the core question for an organization like carefree is, why do you have to exist Why is it necessary to have these low cost no cost community medical clinics, we have access to Medicaid, Medicare and an awful lot of employer provided insurance?


Dr Farhan Bhatti  20:52

That's a great question. And so what a lot of folks don't realize is, you know, with the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid, a lot more people, you know, over 600,000 people in Michigan got health insurance, many of them for the first time. But the disconnect is that where a lot of folks don't understand that having health insurance is not the same thing as having access to health care. And so yes, many people have a health insurance card that says Medicaid or Healthy Michigan on it. But there's a lot of providers across the state that don't accept that card. And so clinics like mine have to exist, because the reimbursement what doctors get paid for seeing Medicaid patients is so low, that it doesn't cover our costs. We can't even break even seeing Medicaid patients. So it basically amounts to charity care. And so if you're in private practice, and you've got to pay yourself, your staff, your overhead, your rent your utilities, you can't really afford to take in that many Medicaid patients and be able to pay your bills. So I used to think that doctors that didn't accept Medicaid were just bad people, I understand that there's a business side of this and that, you know, many of them are trying to do their part and see as many Medicaid patients as they can, while still being able to afford to pay their bills. And so that's why clinics like mine exists because the reimbursement rates for Medicaid are so low, that we have to go out in the community and raise money and apply for grants and seek out private donations in order to be able to make up for the money that we're losing, by limiting ourselves to people who either have bad insurance or no insurance.


Walt Sorg  22:33

When people talk about health care costs, in the contrary, they point out that they're much higher than they are anywhere else in the world. And you're really a cost containment function because the alternative to coming to a place like carefree is going to the ER which is the most expensive medical care you can receive short of 24 hour care.


Dr Farhan Bhatti  22:53

Absolutely. It's more than 10 times cheaper to get care from me in this primary care setting. than it is to go to the ER. And we're providing much better quality care. Because we can see the patient back from multiple visits, we can get their diabetes under control, we can get their depression or bipolar disorder under control. When you go to the ER, you're seeing somebody new, and there, you might never see that provider again. So their job is to get you stable and get you out. So the ER is not an effective, efficient or even high quality place to receive primary care. And so I'm really proud of the work that we do to be able to lower healthcare costs for everyone. Because even if you have insurance through your work, your deductibles are going up your co pays are going up and part of the reason that that's happening is because it's costing the system more money to pay for people who are uninsured or or who have Medicaid to provide care for them when they show up in hospitals.


Walt Sorg  23:57

When we hear the national debate over things like Medicaid block grants and repealing the ACA or replacing the ACA. There's a lot of macroeconomics involved. What does it mean at the ground level if the ACA goes away, or we go to this block grant program that has been proposed for a second night with the Trump administration?


Dr Farhan Bhatti  24:16

So first with the block grants, there's only two ways that the that will go. The first is in order to contain cost, they will limit the number of people who get access to Medicaid, that's the first possible outcome is that hundreds of thousands or millions of people across the country just lose their access.


The second is, if they're not going to kick people off of Medicaid, then they're going to significantly scale back the benefits that Medicaid provides. So maybe Medicaid will stop providing dental coverage or optometry coverage or maybe they they will stop paying for expensive but really, really necessary and important drugs.


So either they're going to scale back on services or they're gonna scale back on the number of people that they're covering, or most likely, what'll happen is a combination of both, as it pertains to the ACA. So if the ACA is repealed, I'm afraid that clinics like mine won't be able to sustain ourselves. A large chunk of my budget every year, two thirds of my budget is what we call fee for service revenue, which means, you know, I submit a claim to the insurance company to Medicaid or to Medicare, and they pay me a fixed amount of money for taking care of a patient. That's two thirds of my budget, you know, about 10% of the people that we see are uninsured. And, you know, if they can't afford to pay, we still see them. But you can't run your business on just uninsured patients. So for the folks that do have some coverage, whether it's Medicare or Medicaid, we get paid by those insurers to do the work that we do. And if people lose access to care, more people become uninsured, then our fee for service revenue is going to go down significantly, which will make it really, really hard. For us to keep our doors open, if we have to close and have clinics like mine across the state or across the country have to close because they can't afford to keep their place open, then more people are going to end up going to the emergency department to seek care, which is going to end up driving up costs even further.


Walt Sorg  26:18

At the risk of sticking you right in the middle of the presidential primary. If you were God, or you were King, What solution to providing medical services do you see us making the most sense economically and from a human standpoint?


Dr Frahan Bhatti  26:34

So I don't think there's any doubt that if you could start over and design a system from scratch, the most efficient model would be a Medicare for all model. And that's the model that I personally as an individual believe in how you get there is debatable whether you ease your way into it or whether you just change to that kind of system overnight is something of immense debate. But I think that our country needs to go in that direction, because there's so much healthcare dollars being wasted on costs that aren't related to direct patient care by insurance companies across the country. And if we can eliminate those costs and get rid of some of this bureaucracy will be able to do our jobs better and take care of people better.


Walt Sorg 27:28

Do you have a handle on how much of your budget is spent pushing paper?


Dr. Farhan Bhatti. 27:32

that's very difficult to quantify because we don't get paid for any of the enormous amount of paperwork that we have to do prior authorization requests which are a bane of my existence, or medical supply requests or physical therapy paperwork we have to sign or skilled nursing paperwork we have to sign all of that stuff I do in my quote unquote, free time after hours I have to sit at my desk, review the paperwork and sign it and none that's billable. It just means that I see my family less.


Walt Sorg  28:04

Dr Farhan Bhatti thank you so much for joining us on the Michigan Policast.


Dr Farhan Bhatti. 28:06

Thanks for having me.


Walt Sorg 28:13

Time for some quick takes issue number one senator Gary Peters. He is out with his first campaign ad and it goes right after his opponent’s claim to fame. Military record. Peters reminds voters if there's more than one former military officer in the running


Peters Ad  28:29

Most folks don't know Gary was a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve. And after 911 he signed up again.


Gary Peters  28:37

I served with a real Patriots are always on my mind. And a big part of the reason I pass legislation to help veterans suffering from PTSD


Colleen Ochoa   28:45

Gary’s always put service before himself. It's just part of his DNA. Every day I see his passion for being effective. Not talking, but getting things done


Gary Peters  28:56

Getting results for folks here in Michigan. That's what matters.


Colleen Ochoa  29:00

Gary is ranked one of the most effective senators. And that's because he's so willing to cross party lines and make a difference.


Gary Peters  29:06

I'm leading Democrats and Republicans and passed a new bill helping veterans put their skills to work in good paying jobs when they return home. Our country owes them a debt. And I'll work with anyone to make sure we keep our word.


Colleen Ochoa  29:19

He approaches the job that way, because that is who he is. And I think it's really working for Michigan.


Gary Peters  29:26

I'm Gary Peters, and I approve this message.


Walt Sorg  29:30

Not exactly subtle gets right to the point that it really echoes the ads that were run earlier, supposedly independently by vote votes.org in supportive Gary Peters and his military record.


Christine Barry  29:40

Well, this ad was a good ad for Gary, I think, because in the last poll about name recognition, which I think was in January, there were about a third of Michigan voters who said they had never heard of them. And in this ad, Gary Peters looked right into the camera and told people who he was and that was in line with his personality. It's not flashy. He there wasn't anything controversial. He wasn't making any accusations, or you know, really bragging or anything like that. He was just talking and that's kind of how he does his job. Yeah, he's pretty low key and he just gets the job done. So I think that was a really good ad for Gary Peters.


Walt Sorg  30:17

Issue number two presidential politics and Michigan picking up steam. Early voting is started for Michigan's March 10 primary momentum is picking up for Mayor Mike Bloomberg on a couple of fronts. First of all, over the weekend, they picked up a very key endorsement. Christine.


Christine Barry  30:33

Yes, Haley Stevens endorsed him. She put out a nice statement on Twitter and course it went went viral and everybody's picked it up now. And now Hayley Stevens did say that she worked with Mike Bloomberg on manufacturing. She does have a track record of working on manufacturing policy at the executive level. She has a background in manufacturing research, especially as it pertains to sustainability and new energy and that kind of thing. So it does make sense. She would talk about working with him on that issue, and she might endorse him on that issue. The other thing that's at work here is that Bloomberg PAC contributed to her campaign in 2018. And it was a significant contribution. So I do think that there's an alignment there. Personally, I would have expected, maybe something for Joe Biden, but it doesn't surprise me that it came for Bloomberg did come early, though. I thought


Walt Sorg  31:26

Biden didn't come up empty, though. He picked up a really big endorsement to the Democratic Party Black Caucus has joined in with Mayor Duggan of Detroit, in supporting Joe Biden, how much of an impact you think endorsements like this have on the race?


Amy Kerr Hardin  31:41

I think very little anymore. Newspaper endorsements in particular, people just don't they just tune that stuff out. They make up their decision. They make up their minds based on I think some of the news media and social media and so forth. And then a lot of there's a lot of false that's out there too.


Christine Barry  31:55

Yeah, maybe that's true for someone like Joe Biden, and people who think they know him. But I think for Mike Bloomberg, it sort of raises awareness. I know that he's been hammering Michigan with ads. But now he has not just himself talking about his candidacy, but other people as well.


Walt Sorg  32:13

And he's not just hammering with ads, I have a couple of friends who are in the political consulting business. And Mike Bloomberg is hiring a lot of very high price talent in Michigan. And what I find significant is the contracts that he's signing with his people run through the general election. They are not going to get cut off after the Michigan primary. He's in it to win it to the end. And if he doesn't win the nomination, he's going to continue to campaign and keep these people working and working hard to get Donald Trump out of the White House.


Amy Kerr Hardin  32:41

That's very good.


Walt Sorg  32:43

issue number three in the world of campaign finance, there's nothing quite like having the device family picking up the bills for an entire class of politicians. Unless of course your name is Mike Bloomberg and you do it for yourself. Amy, what's going on with the DeVos’ and their buddies in the Republican Party.


Amy Kerr Hardin  32:58

The DeVos family has a lot History of buying politicians and pushing pet policy projects in Michigan for the 2020 election cycle, they've already dropped $550,000 on state Republican candidates effectively leaving Democrats in the dust with only a fraction of that kind of cash on hand. The disparity between the two parties war chest is the largest it's been an over two decades.


Walt Sorg  33:23

Pretty amazing. Another big money GOP donor is hinting that if he doesn't get his way, he'll shut off his money speaking to the republicans Burstein.


Christine Barry  33:32

Peter Secchia is saying that his lakefront property is falling into the lake due to erosion. So he sent a letter to Chatfield and Shirkey saying that I'm going to lose about $6 million here. And if that happens, then donations are going to dry up. He used the word diminished. He's saying that it's just causing effect you lose money, you don't have as much money to give, however, Progress Michigan have gotten their hands on that letter to Chatfield and Shirkey and they were able to identify some what I'm going to call Secchia Summer Home Legislation that has popped up since the letter was sent. The Republicans in the legislature are saying that there has been no legislation proposed based on Peter Secchia is what non threat, I guess is what Peter Seki would say it was, but there it is. And it's all things like allowing people to bypass state permitting, in order to protect their homes, that kind of thing.


Amy Kerr Hardin  34:32

I think the lesson to be learned there is to not build your $6 million mansion on the edge of a sand in


Walt Sorg  34:39

now I wouldn't go quite that far. I have actually one of my very close friends has a place that she inherited from her mom that she's had to move twice to keep it from falling into the lake. I've known Pete Secchia. A long time. He and I have several mutual friends. Believe it or not one of his closest friends political is Frank Kelly, the former Democratic Attorney General, and Peter's got this habit of putting his foot in his mouth when he was you know, States Ambassador to Italy, he made some comment about taking a tour on a glass bottom boat over there. So we could take a look at the Italian Navy, which didn't exactly go over very well with the government a row, but that's the chicken.


Christine Barry  35:13

Don't say that out loud


Walt Sorg  35:14

He's a very blunt speaking man. And sometimes he just puts his foot in his mouth. I don't really think he was trying to bribe the GOP as much as say, hey, look at idiots. This is something that's really impacting a lot of people. A lot of us very rich people. You know, I know Bob Seger is you got a place over there that's about to fall into the water. And I think it Kirk Cousins the quarterback from the Minnesota Vikings who's got a place over there to this probably in trouble. But there's a regular folks to people who aren't multi multi multi millionaires that are in danger of losing their homes because of the erosion along the shoreline.


Amy Kerr Hardin  35:49

I think our former Governor Rick Snyder also has a home and that


Walt Sorg  35:53

is summer cottage he called remember that.


Christine Barry  35:56

That's what Pete called his to his summer home. You know Don't really it's not that I don't care about those people. It's that I just think lake shore should not be private property. Great Lakes Lake Shore anyway. So, yeah, to hell with them, but mostly


Walt Sorg  36:13

Say what you really mean, Christine.


Christine Barry  36:16

My issue is that if I called up anybody in the government and I said, here are pictures of my home and I'm losing money and you'll lose your donations, they could look at what I donated and go, I'll recover. It doesn't matter. There would be no legislation based on my needs.


Walt Sorg  36:35

Also on the money story, a roundup in the Daily Kos recently was really interesting. of the 40 or so democrats that flip GOP seats in 2018. Most of them are doing a really good job of raising money for their reelection campaigns, which they're going to need raising 100 and $5 million during the quarter compared to $82 million for GOP contenders in those districts. And the number one fundraiser turns out was me Elissa Slotkin $1.3 million during the quarter and the top fundraiser in on the Republican side of the many candidates that are running against her. He raised $125,000 self-funded another hundred and $48,000 and he's got less than a quarter of a million in the bank Slotkin’s got 2.9. In the back. The big issue there and in several districts is going to be the PAC money that comes in from national sources and efforts to read flip the house.


Christine Barry  37:26

Those people in the eighth really do like their national security people.


And finally, YouTube is taking a stand against some forms of fake news. What they're doing is promising to take down any election related videos that are technically altered, to mislead people in a way that it goes beyond simply taking speech out of context. And they also said they would remove doctored videos that would cause serious risk of egregious harm, such as to make it appear that a government official is dead or something like that. So that's what YouTube is doing.


Facebook remains the Susan Collins of tech companies, Zuckerberg talks and talks. But at the end of the day, he does the very least amount that he can get away with.


Walt Sorg  38:09

It just keeps cashing the checks. And what's amazing about it is even though there's a lot of money being spent on Facebook, in terms of what regular people would think, is a lot of money. It's really a drop in the bucket for Facebook revenues overall. If it was if they just got rid of the advertising from Donald Trump, and Mike Bloomberg, it would probably cause their stock to drop a little bit at least I think between the two of them, they spent like $50 million so far on Facebook, and we're just getting warmed up. But even so, the unwillingness of Zuckerberg to do anything about it. What's even worse is now he set this Facebook news thing and it's basically being run by a bunch of so called journalists from the right wing including Breitbart. So part of it


Christine Barry  38:49

Yeah, I don't I don't spend that much time on Facebook anymore. And it used to be my my go to Well, actually, Google was my my go to for a while when they had their social network, because there were no ads in it, it was really great. But it didn't make any money. So it went away. And then I went to Facebook and I loved Facebook for a while and then adds more and more ads and more and more suggestions of people who I really don't want anything to do with because they're horrible. Now I'm back on Twitter, which many people would say this is not good at all. But I find it to be a lot easier to control what I see and who I interact with.


Walt Sorg  39:26

I wish people would spend just a little bit of money and get online subscriptions to some of the major newspapers and news sources around the country that are reliable. I've got the Washington Post, The New York Times both Detroit papers, can't afford the Wall Street Journal or Crain’s, but I'd like to add those as well. So that I get kind of a well-rounded view of the news, but I'm getting it from real journalists and not from advocates.


Amy Kerr Hardin  39:47

I wish that there was a different business model for that so that they didn't have to put up paywalls because they advantage people to have the kind of money that you know, spare change the sofa change to be able to you know, buy subscriptions.


Christine Barry  39:59

Yeah, and not just I mean, not just fixed income, like I gave up WashPo and NY Times, and it was just a matter of like, how much am I really getting for this money, I just don't read it that often. What I really want is Crain’s, but you know, help a sister out and give me a monthly option or something. I mean, I can't just drop that much money all at once and get away with it.


Walt Sorg  40:20

And if you want to find out what's going on in Michigan, you get a free subscription to Bridge online. Michigan Bridge is as good as they get fine journalism right down the middle, they just cover the news, and they do it in depth. I highly recommend that people get that as well.


Christine Barry  40:35

Yeah, and I want to add real quick that Michigan Advance has a few articles that really, really lay out the budget for the year and what led us to this budget as well as a bunch of spending from the lame duck in 2018 and how it impacted Gretchen webinars first budget. So this that's just straight up analysis. That's not any kind of opinion, so it's good stuff.


Walt Sorg  41:02

And it's important to the both of those are nonprofit operations. They're not out there trying to make a buck they just tried to survive.


This week's work in progress takes a look at something many of us take for granted. The ability to get around to get to work, go to stores to shop go to medical appointments. For many in our larger cities, their economic life is dependent on public transportation. Like many challenges, we faced the challenges to urban mass transit first show up in Detroit and then spread out state in Detroit residents are finding it increasingly difficult to get around without owning a car.


Renard Monczunski is a transit organizer with the Detroit people's platform. He's leading a fight to make transit work in Detroit, which likely will have an impact down the road and other Michigan cities.


Renard thanks for joining us on the Policast.  Transportation in urban areas. It's not just a Detroit issue, although it's obviously the most pronounced in Detroit because it's our largest City, what are the issues that your organization is focusing on?


Renard Monczunski 42:05

We are mainly focused on transit issues that relate to bus service in our neighborhoods, which are underserved and tend to be majority black and also low income and individuals with disabilities. So really we're fighting for transit equity, and we're fighting specifically what that means is ensuring reliable on time bus service, removing the disparity between good bus service on on Main corridors and also in the neighborhoods. So we're removing transit disparity. We're creating equity in terms of supporting a policy to lower fares for individuals that are homeless, returning citizens, lower note income and also veterans here as well due to the recent fare increase, and another part of our work is holding the transit department which is a Detroit to Department of Transportation accountable for the service that they're supposed to provide. Mainly our work is organizing an advocacy on behalf and essential riders.  Essential riders are who we call individuals and families that use the bus as their so and or primary means of transportation to access not only just to work, but medical appointments, school, employment opportunities, social services, you name it, etc. Where people in automobiles tend to take access to those institutions for granted as well. So we are fighting for the neighborhoods of Detroit which do not get good, reliable bus service.


Walt Sorg  43:42

One of the studies that I've seen recently indicates that more and more people are dealing with urban mass transit systems as economic development tools that they actually do lead to higher levels of employment, reduce levels of poverty, and as well as of course quality of life issues which makes sense is a little bit more attractive delivered is that the direction you see Detroit going is that the direction you're trying to go?


Renard Monczunski 44:06

Our work specifically is about restoring the service that we used to have previous administrations ago with frequent bus service no later than 10 or 15 minutes. And our work is really equity to ensure that the most vulnerable people are able to rely on our system. And then also we call for more funding, as well.  In terms of making an attractive city and anything any fully funded transportation system is going to attract not just young millennials, like myself, but all people from across the country and people who want to live here in Detroit, as well, too. So it's not so much about attracting people into the city to use transit. Our work specifically is about ensuring that the people that live here are able to reliably use a service that we support financially and also as a service to us. So I hope that answers your question than that.


Walt Sorg  45:00

Well, I know for outsiders like me who come to Detroit, one of the things that terrifies us is your traffic. And that is an issue. Obviously better mass transit takes care of that because it does alleviate some traffic congestion,


Renard Monczunski 45:12

So the service is so bad for folks that are here. I don't even think the system's even ready to it. There needs to be really basic structural and infrastructure improvements, like, for example, many of our bus stops, lack shelters, and even seats, so an out of stater is going to get that impression of our transit system. But we deal with this every single day with the lack of intentional funding and resources.


Detroit's being the largest transportation carrier is not a system that exemplifies a fully funded and prioritized transit system as well. We are the least funded country.


Walt Sorg. 45:54

Now I'm pretty familiar with both the systems in Tokyo and in London. And those are very vibrant systems to the point where I would say majority of the populace use of them, especially in Tokyo, where the streets are incredibly narrow. And there's an amazing number of people. It works. And Tokyo is a thriving city as a result,


Transit, if invested in the city government, as states, higher than the levels that we've have had over the past years, this really austerity, we would have a really thrive in Detroit for people who have lived here and people who want to come into our community as well too. And for people like the young millennials that want to stay in Detroit raise their family and be here. Transit is is connects to housing, it connects to so many other economic opportunities. People like my generation move to cities and pick cities based off of their availability of transit.


Walt Sorg  46:51

Okay, Renard thank you so much for joining us. If people want to get more information on what you're doing now, with the urban transit issues and the trailer A justice issue where can they go for information?


Renard Monczunski 47:02

Okay, well, there's many places they can go you can, for one on social media can search for Detroit People's Platform on Facebook, as well as Twitter. And our Transit Talks page is our page for transit riders, we encourage people to search for transit talks.


Walt Sorg  47:20

Again, we're in our thank you so much for joining for the podcast.


Renard Monczunski 47:23

Thank you so much for the invitation. It's good to be on. Thank you.


Walt Sorg  47:29

Before we wrap up for the week, one self-serving plug at least a little bit. I can't get that petition signing thing out of my bloodstream. Proposal two was so much fun. I'm now working on the fair and equal campaign. That is the petition drive to change Michigan civil rights law. So it extends protections to the LGBTQ community and also to individuals for their personal religious beliefs. We got to get a whole lot of signatures between now and may 27. If you can help in any way, please do so go to fairandequalmichigan.com and just fill in your name and your email address and somebody will get back to you. You can maybe we can help circulate some petitions.


And with that, that's going to do it for this week's podcast. We welcome your comments, questions, complaints concerns, just send us an email mipolicast@gmail.com or check in with us on Facebook or Twitter.


Christine Barry  48:19

As always, we'll have background information at your beck and call on our website, michiganpolicast.com


Amy Kerr Hardin  48:25

Tune in again next week for another episode. Until then,  hi-yo silver, away!


Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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