Shelter-in-place extended, polls look good for Dems, and literacy is a right! Jon Hoadley and Jonathan Oosting join us.

April 27, 2020

Michigan Policast for Monday, April 27, 2020

  In this episode:

  • Surprise! Trump has inappropriate relations with China
  • Gov Whitmer extends shelter-in-place but eases restrictions
  • Polling on the handling of the pandemic
  • Oversight and political hackery
  • Jonathan Oosting on the court ruling on the petitions for candidates
  • Literacy is a right! The students in the “right to read” case have legal standing
  • Jon Hoadley on COVID-19, voting by mail, Mitch McConnell's bad attitude, and GOP economics
  • Campaign cash and more polls
  • Transcript


Jump to:

Surprise! Trump has inappropriate relations with China

Trump’s recent criticisms of China have been muddied by his own mixed messaging as well as by his numerous financial ties to the country. Those connections extend far beyond the Avenue of the Americas loan: Chinese state-owned companies are constructing two luxury Trump developments in United Arab Emirates and Indonesia. The president and his daughter Ivanka Trump, a White House adviser, have been awarded trademarks by China’s government. And his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has courted Chinese investors in at least one other real estate deal. ~Source


Gov Whitmer extends shelter-in-place but eases restrictions


Wood TV Commentary on the new stay at home order (summary video)


Wood TV Governor Whitmer's full update on the new stay at home order

Polling on the handling of the pandemic


A survey of 600 Michiganians found 57% approved of the Democratic governor's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic compared with 37% of respondents who disapproved. The finding came after more than 4,000 protesters descended on Lansing and the Capitol to protest Whitmer's tightened stay-home order that was extended through April 30. ~Source



Governors are having a moment …

Oversight and political hackery



Lee Chatfield at the April 15 COVID rally that included swastikas and confederate flags:




Jonathan Oosting on the court ruling on the petitions for candidates


Literacy is a right! The students in the “right to read” case have legal standing

Comments by Mackinac Center mentioned in the show

To constitutionalize a failed approach is counterproductive.  ~Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center

This decision … could lead to a series of attempts from poor-performing school districts to go to federal court whenever they are unsatisfied with the budget they have been allocated in the normal school-funding process.  ~Patrick Wright, vice president for legal affairs at the Mackinac Center

Jon Hoadley on COVID-19, voting by mail, Mitch McConnell's bad attitude, and GOP economics



Campaign cash and more polls




Walt Sorg  00:00

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


Curtis Hertel Jr  00:16

To call an emergency session in the middle of a public health crisis, to do nothing but politics is a violation of the rules in the spirit of this body. For the record stunts like this is why people hate politicians and don't trust their government. You know you all know that the governor is not signing this bill. All of this is sound and fury, signifying nothing in the middle of a public health crisis. You brought all these people here to accomplish nothing but a talking point.


Walt Sorg  00:56

1.2 million Michiganders have lost their jobs. More than three thousand have lost their lives. And legislative republicans come to town for the sole purpose of political attacks on Gretchen Whitmer's handling of the crisis. This is the Michigan Policast. We're all about Michigan politics and policy and the national issues impacting our pleasant peninsulas. I'm Walt Sorg. I am bleach-free in Lansing.


Christine Barry  01:18

Well, I am Christine Barry and I am zooming in with the view from beautiful rural Michigan. There's more than just COVID-19 news in the state, Walt, we have a couple of major federal court rulings relating to our elections and our schools, we're going to take a look at both of those. And there's lots of new polling on the governor's job performance as well as the upcoming election.


Walt Sorg  01:39

We'll be talking about that election with congressional candidate Jon Hoadley. But before we get to any of this, Christine, something I wanted to talk about, kind of a late add was a story that was in Politico earlier in the week. That is just been totally ignored in any other environment with any other president. this would be front page news for a month. The headline is Trump owed 10s of millions to Bank of China. The government-owned Bank of China provided a mortgage basically. So Trump and his partners could buy a $1 billion building in downtown Manhattan. Trump owns 30% of the deal, the mortgage was over $200 million. By my calculation, that's about a $60 million loan that he got from the Chinese government, and they still hold the mortgage. It's apparently coming due during what would be his second term in office. And to me, this is just absolutely outrageous. It's not just the only dealings he's had with China. Of course, his daughter Ivanka has all sorts of trademarks with them. He's building multiple condos right now that are being financed by the Chinese around the world. And he's got the gall to go after Joe Biden and say that Joe Biden would be in bed with the Chinese if he was elected president.


Christine Barry  02:48

Yeah. And you know, you could set the Joe Biden stuff aside and look at everything else, just without that context. I mean, he's doing it out in the open, it should be unacceptable. We knew about his relationship with Russia. I think we all knew about his relationship with China, although we didn't know the numbers like that you just mentioned, but we know that he has these relationships all over the world. There was some talk prior to his election that you know, like, how are you going to separate yourself from your business interests? And they basically said, Just trust us he won't know anything about it. And we all knew that wasn't true. And yet here we are today and so this weird cult of personality thing going on. I don't understand it. It should be unacceptable. I think it is unacceptable to people like you and me and the majority of actual, you know, people, but unfortunately, you know, there's a loud minority and they won the election and here we are.


Walt Sorg  03:48

But meanwhile, back here in the What seems to be the real world of COVID-19. The governor is continuing to be very cautious when it comes to protecting us


Gretchen Whitmer  03:58

a new executive order will now allow some workers who perform lower risk activities to go back on the job. We will consider this the preliminary stage of economic re-engagement. We will measure, we will collect data, we will continue to ramp up our testing and our tracing, and we will make informed decisions in the coming days about potential further economic re-engagement, but it depends on you.


Christine Barry  04:27

The governor has extended the stay at home order, but she's made some cautious modifications, just reopening some businesses and activities, but also calling on Michiganders to continue to take basic precautions.


Gretchen Whitmer  04:40

The order I signed today requires that everyone wear a covering over their nose and mouth like a homemade mask, or scarf or bandana or handkerchief when they are in an enclosed public space. To be clear when you go to the grocery store, or to the pharmacy, or to any store that's open during this time. You need to wear a face mask. If you're in an outdoor area, this order does not require that you wear one, but you should consider it anyway. And regardless, you need to observe the six feet radius of safety so that you are protected from the spread.


Walt Sorg  05:17

Okay, so let's go over what's in this executive order the things that she's loosened up our response partially, I think, to the criticism that she's received from some of those demonstrators, but also some very cautious changes based on the science, first of all, reopening the sales from the big boxes so people can buy their paint by their seat from the big boxes rather than having to order them online. Now they can get it with curbside pickup, which is not really that big a deal. You know, people never were banned from buying seed or paint. They just couldn't go to Home Depot and pick it up.


Christine Barry  05:50

It was never as big of a deal as people seem to make out. People who are opposed to it, you could always get what you needed. It just might have changed your routine event. I understand that because she didn't want people browsing. And it's not that she didn't want it, it's that it was in our best interest to not have people hanging out in a paint store browsing for that perfect color, or hanging out in the garden store, wondering if this particular piece will look best here or there. So she eased up on the restrictions of that. This to me Walt was like opening a pressure valve to let some steam out. You know, there are some real benefits here in terms of letting people get out and about, like she said, it's the preliminary steps of re-engaging the economy. I'm not sure quite how she put that. But it makes sense to me. And she's still asking for these basic precautions. So if it's, you know, if we do things right, we should be okay. They will be tracking infection rates. They're increasing their testing capacity and contact tracing. And I think it's a good data-driven approach that she's got here and it's informed by public health experts.


Walt Sorg  07:00

She also lifted the restrictions a little bit on boating and playing golf to outdoor activities. It's the season has begun. You know, when people were bitching about this last week and the week before, there was snow on the ground, so it really didn't matter. Now that the season has started, people can get outside again. The golf courses were immediately jammed even though it was too cold. for somebody like me, I always say, when I played golf, I shot in the low 70s. If it got any colder I was done. But a lot of people did get out. But those activities will help and again, they're relatively low-risk golf courses have to continue to stay closed in terms of having their clubhouse closed, the restaurants, the locker rooms and all that but you can go out on the course and still can't use motorized cards, but you can use hand carts as well. And for boats, you can use powerboats again. But when you're in the middle of a lake with a fishing pole and two other people, the chances of you spreading the virus are fairly small, especially if you abide by her wear a mask when you're around other people rule


Christine Barry  08:00

Yeah, and you know, there's still some disingenuous talk around this by her opposition, for example, the Republicans say things like, you could go out on a kayak but you couldn't go out on an on a boat. And that was silly. You could always go out on a canoe or a kayak. But those were, you know, those are isolated vessels, right? You know, they ride one people or if they, you know, they might ride two, but people had been abusing the motorized boats I think before and that's why she had to cut back on that.


Walt Sorg  08:30

It's not like we're gonna get on the Boblo boat or anything in Detroit and have 150 people all together, it's just gonna be it's gonna be the small votes. I think the most important thing is the polling shows that the majority of people in Michigan like the way she's doing this and being cautious The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce released a poll during the week showed 57% approved of her handling of the epidemic. 37% disapproved.  More importantly, Trump was upside down 44% approval 50% disapproval so she's on the right course. You can't please all the people all the time, but the majority of the people are backing her up, which is important because realistically, she can't enforce a lot of this stuff. It's got to be voluntary compliance, and she can only provide the leadership that people have to follow.


Christine Barry  09:13

But fortunately, she's articulate enough to be able to explain why she's doing the thing she's doing. So, and she's, you know, she's out there talking about it. She's not hiding from it. So I think that has helped a lot in terms of people saying, Okay, this is not a good thing. And, and in these urban areas in Detroit, in particular,, I don't know how many people are left who haven't been impacted by the loss of someone to COVID. You know, 3000, I'm just to say, 3000 people across Michigan, you might think, well, that's not that many, but almost everybody has been affected by someone who's gotten sick from this.


Walt Sorg  09:53

That's more than the total number of people lost on 911 in New York, to put it in perspective, and we're just one state you Nationally we're about 60,000 deaths, I think right now and on our way continuing to climb. The bigger problem she's facing the longer-term problem. We talk with Jon Hoadley. about this, a little bit later in the pod is the state budget is an absolute disaster. Now, all of her aspirations when she ran for governor was elected governor are pretty much in the shitter. Now, she could get a lot of this stuff because you don't get the money. They're estimating a budget deficit of $3 billion, which to put it in perspective is roughly 25% of the state's general fund budget. That's a lot of money.


Christine Barry  10:34

It is and we were talking about this just at our last school board meeting, about the potential cuts to our school and it could be devastating. It could be just devastating to our school.


Walt Sorg  10:46

And you've got Mitch McConnell saying let them eat cake, let the states go bankrupt, which is something that none of the governor's is going for. I saw Larry Hogan, the republican governor of Maryland on the Sunday talk shows and he's also the chair of the national governor. Association and he says, basically, Mitch McConnell's got no support amongst the governors. And when the governors are united against something like that attitude, you can be pretty sure that Congress is not going to follow mitch mcconnell's lead. He's said something which, quite honestly, is probably politically pretty stupid. And he's going to live to regret it.


Christine Barry  11:17

Yeah, governors are elected by, you know, popular vote. I mean, it's completely different for a well, I guess, Mitch McConnell is too but you know, governors are in the state doing the work. They're the ones with the executive power to keep people safe. I mean, it's, and I think most of them and I it hurts to say this, but even Republican governors care about their constituencies.


Walt Sorg  11:41

Well, they've also got very high approval ratings when it comes to the handling of this pandemic. The trust in state government and state governors is in the 70% range nationwide. The trust in Congress is down in the 20s for the most part, and rightly so you get people like Mike dewine you get people like Larry Hogan on the Republican side. Cuomo and Gavin Newsom in California and Gretchen Whitmer here and they're all getting high marks from their own constituencies, the way that they're handling this pandemic. And nobody says nice things about Congress and they probably shouldn't say nice things about Congress. So Mitch has got a problem with this one.


PSA  12:21

COVID-19 better known as Coronavirus has spread throughout the world. There are a few ways to help lower the spread of this respiratory disease. Wash your hands. Avoid touching your face including mouth, nose and eyes. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Monitor your symptoms and consult with your doctor. Stay at home and away from other sick people except for medical care, clean and disinfect high touch surfaces. For more information, please visit  Thank you


Walt Sorg  12:58

for the first weeks of the crisis. The Republican leadership in the legislature was supporting governor Whitmer speaker Lee Chatfield noted that in an emergency we she was in the best position to lead the state's response. And he pretty much got out of the way. But then a bunch of pickup trucks descended online saying they blocked traffic made a lot of noise and spread the virus by ignoring social distancing, and Republicans decided it was time to end their flirtation with bipartisanship.


Christine Barry  13:24

That's right on straight party line votes. Republicans established an oversight committee, complete with subpoena powers to investigate the governor's handling of the crisis. And the Senate passed a bill basically repealing the governor's emergency powers. Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr, whose father led the Michigan House of Representatives during an economic crisis 20 years ago by working cooperatively with the Republicans. He called out the current crop for what amounted to a partisan political stunt.


Curtis Hertel Jr  13:54

Are we voting to get frontline workers the productive equipment they need? No. Are you sure During the first responders have access to hazard pay or cover when they are sick. No. Are you talking about fixing the or properly funding the unemployment system that your party was in control of for at last 10 years? And now you pretend like you've been champions of fixing? No, we're not doing that either. Are we assuring the safety of those who work or live in our nursing homes? No. Are you assuring paid sick leave for workers? No. Are you increasing direct care work wages to more than barely above minimum wage? No. You're putting politics over anything else that would actually help the people of Michigan that you serve.


Walt Sorg  14:42

Senator Hertel gets worked up with things like this and rightly so it was pure politics to bring them back, it  was irresponsible in a way to bring him back to because they all had to congregate in the relatively tight quarters of the House and Senate chambers, although they could have met down the street at the Lansing center and had more room but they chose not to do that either. They floated a regional opening plan, the House Republican leaders came up with that idea. But I think the problem they're going to run into is if you look at the map and how this virus is spreading in Michigan, it started in Detroit and to a lesser extent in Lansing. But it has been moving out state and it's been moving north, and it's been moving west. Right now, one of the big hotspots is over in Grand Rapids. And as it gets into more and more republican areas where they don't have the healthcare capabilities that you've got in Detroit in Lansing, especially, I think they're gonna have a kind of a change of attitude.


Christine Barry  15:32

Well, you know what, well, you're right. This is a tiered plan, and their plan moves different counties through the tiers based on risk. I don't think the model that they've used to create this plan is really going to work for them just because of what you just said there. But I'm going to tell you something. And this this is what really frustrates me that they came out with a reopening plan, right, but they've had years to put out a roads plan. Now that the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the proud boys are upset now they have a plan for reopening Michigan. It's really frustrating to me that they're coming out and pretending to be leaders when for so long, they held back and said, No, we're not ready. We can't do that we have to be more thoughtful. So maybe if the proud boys and the three percenters and the oathkeepers and the Ku Klux Klan and the Dale Zorn facemasks, came out and had a protest about roads and education and infrastructure, then all of these reasons why it's going to take us years to recover from this would not be there because we could have worked together to make the state a stronger straight state to begin with. Now, I like you said earlier, I don't know how governor Whitmer is going to get the roads done. I don't know how we're going to strengthen education. I don't know how we're going to do anything. So I kind of in that because of that background Walt, I kind of don't care what their plan is. Because they aren't leaders. They're not. I mean, even when you go to the Senate and you asked Shirkey for something like a roads plan. He said he felt no timeframe on that. He wasn't worried about that. They just have no credibility on this. And I'll tell you what else. There's pictures all over the place, the Chatfield was right in the middle of that little COVID rally where they had their Nazi signs and they're proud boys and all that. And he tweeted that he supports them. So now he's saying we have a plan. And what did what did Shirkey say? Sure. He says, We've passed this bill. And we expect that the governor will, you know, engage us and work with us and cooperate with us on everything. It's ridiculous.


Walt Sorg  17:30

What are the things that occurred to me when I saw that they have given subpoena power to this oversight committee was what if the governor adopted the Trump position that this is a violation of separation of powers, you can take your subpoenas and shove them basically and just ignored all the subpoenas. I'm pretty sure that under state law is under federal law, that any violation of those subpoenas or ignoring of the subpoenas would be sent to the Attorney General to handle and I can't quite see Dana Nessel. Taking Gretchen Whitmer, to court for contempt. To the Senate,


Christine Barry  18:01

if we were talking about oversight and strictly oversight, I think and i, you probably agree with me probably everybody who's listening agrees every public body or office should have some oversight. I don't know who would be opposed to that at all, unless they were, you know, trying to get away with something dirty, which is not. That's why you have oversight. But I don't think anybody should pretend that we don't know what this hackery was. If this institution if the legislature and really the, you know, the republicans have been in control of it for so long, but if the Michigan legislature had any integrity at all, it would have had oversight in place for decades. And that's that's really true for all levels of government. But the legislature itself, really should have already had these oversight committees for Governor Snyder. I can't even remember what they did to Governor Granholm but for Engler as well. And I think Senator her tell nailed it in the comments we heard earlier. This is just political hackery.


Walt Sorg  19:01

one of the things that got their dander up which I thought was completely overplayed by both the media and the republicans was this contract that was laid out as a $200,000 contract, which is basically a rounding error, to affirm to basically set up a tracking program a contact program, so that the state could get a better handle on how this virus was spreading. It turns out that the firm that got the contract has strong ties to the Democratic Party. But again, it was a $200,000 contract, I should say that I have I have a contract with that firm. And I would have benefited a little bit from that contract. But the reality is $200,000 is a big nothing and it certainly isn't a huge political problem, to award that kind of thing. And it was also it was done wasn't done by the political powers in the governor's office. It was done by the bureaucrats over in the health department who wanted this information. And they picked out the firm they thought it was best qualified to do it. But the republicans treated this and even to the point of Donald Trump Jr, tweeting about it that this was the biggest political scandal in history, which I find ironic, of course, coming from a Trump complaining about political favoritism. They've, on the same day that this story came out, the federal government was doing a contract with one of Trumps political allies to do a multi million dollar contract on tracking. And there was no bid left there either. But of course, it's Do as I say, not as I do with that. That's the political environment in which we're operating right now. It's getting more and more partisan all over again. We were bipartisan for about two weeks trying to deal with this incredible crisis. And it's a crisis that's not going away. The person who's been I think the sanest on the national scene on this whole thing has been Bill Gates, who is a lay expert now on pandemic diseases. The man has led the fight to eradicate polio and malaria from the planet, spending hundreds of millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation, and he really knows this stuff now. And he says we're going to be living with this for a long, long time, and I don't see anything do disagree with there.


Christine Barry  21:01

Yeah, it's it's clear the worldwide impact of this not just in terms of this shared collective grief we have over what we've lost. But economically, even the strongest countries are going to have a tough time recovering. There were a couple of significant federal court rulings in the last week. In one the state was ordered to allow candidates for the 2020 election to collect nominating signatures online, and the ruling also cut in half the number of signatures normally required to qualify for the ballot. The lawsuit was filed by a republican seeking to run against congressperson Haley Stephens, while talk with bridge magazines Jonathan Oosting who covered that hearing,


Walt Sorg  21:45

Jonathan, the court ruling on petitions for candidates to file for election did it become a moot point as a result of the person who filed the lawsuit actually qualifying with petition signatures?


Jonathan Oosting  21:55

No, actually it's still an open question because the signature have not been vetted yet. The candidate in question  Eric Esshaki , from Birmingham, he did file roughly 1200 signatures, so slightly more than 1000 that's needed. But he's filed an affidavit saying, you know, they, there was a flurry of activity in the final weeks people mailing ballots into him, he got a lot of media attention, people were sending him petitions, they filled out themselves without filling out all the information correctly. So he's not confident all those signatures are going to stand up if challenged, and it's making the case that he still deserves the relief provided by the judge's order earlier in the week that lowered the threshold and gave candidates more time and the ability to collect signatures electronically.


Walt Sorg  22:46

Now, there's some questions as to whether this really only applies to this one election. And basically the candidates for federal office and local candidates don't need signatures for the most part. They can just put it in a filing fee. Did the judge make it clear? It was a very Limited ruling or could it be expanded?


Jonathan Oosting  23:02

Well, there are some limits on it. For instance, it does say specifically in the judge's order that the candidates had to have filed if their congressional candidate, for instance, would have had to file a FEC declaration by a certain date. So it's my reading that this would be limited actually, because of that measure, or if they'd formed a state candidate committee, they're running for a judicial position. So I think there are some limits in there. And I don't think the intention, of course, is to go beyond this. So I think judge Berg would certainly, you know, clarify his ruling if it came to that.


Walt Sorg  23:40

There's another challenge just down the road now with the fair and equal Michigan petition drive to amend the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act. The lawyers for them say there's nothing in state law prohibiting what they're doing. Although they to say it's because of the pandemic and the executive orders is what makes it possible. Do you see potential for this being expanded so that we actually do go to the 21st Century for all petition signatures?


Jonathan Oosting  24:01

Well, I don't think that's what anybody is asking for right now. I mean, the groups that are challenging this in court, of course, a judge could have a different opinion. But I mean, I think what's fascinating about not just petition signatures, but the technology in general is that, you know, governments, as well as regular people are learning to adapt to this pandemic, by embracing new technology and testing it out. It's going to be interesting now to see what sticks around, you know, if we other states do election, we're not gonna do elections that are all mail ballots only. I mean, is that going to be turned out to be popular and effective? We might not have known otherwise if it weren't for this forced creativity here during the pandemics. So certainly we're going to test out new mechanisms for new ways to participate in the democratic process. And I think you know, will probably end up being a decision by policymakers down the line. Whether To adapt us for the long term.


Walt Sorg  25:01

In talking with some of my friends on the progressive side, they caution Be careful what you wish for. Yes, this might make it easier for us to get a progressive petition drive going. But it could also be used by conservatives. It could be used by anti abortion movement. It could be used to recall political candidates as well, if it got expanded. Do you think that's likely to stop it in its tracks? Just because it's, there's something to lose for everybody?


Jonathan Oosting  25:25

Yeah, I mean, I think that's been always the issue with, you know, trying to do stuff like this in the past, the legislature has certainly, you know, in past years made it harder to, for instance, recall legislators, why? Because their legislators, I mean, even, you know, if it's a democratic majority, and Republicans are very unpopular, you know, legislators probably think about how these laws could be used against them in the future as well. So, I mean, I think it's the same reason why, you know, applying the Freedom of Information Act to the legislature has proved seem to be such a difficult process. Certainly there are some lawmakers who very much believe in that, but it's going to impact them directly. And that's where things get a little more complicated, as opposed to voting sort of on theoretical policies that might impact other people.


Walt Sorg  26:16

We talked a couple of weeks ago with your colleague Riley Beggin about how her life has changed as a reporter. Through all of those working a lot from home working a lot electronically. Do you find yourself covering a lot more stories online rather than in person?


Jonathan Oosting  26:29

Yeah, I mean, for instance, the Federal you know, case we're talking about with electronic signatures. Yesterday, I watched that hearing via zoom. The federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan conducted the hearing in a virtual setting. I made sort of a funny mistake. I thought it was funny anyways, I was not punished for it. But I took a screenshot of that hearing, and was reminded shortly thereafter by the court and That that constitutes a form of recording that's still technically prohibited under federal court rules. So even though the court is online streaming their session for the public to hear be taking a screenshot and sharing it could have gotten me in trouble. I mean, they didn't they didn't take any actions.  But yeah, I mean, I'm streaming. You know, today the legislature met in Lansing, it's Friday to pass a law restricting the governor's authority, which of course, she would veto reached her desk, but I'm not going to the Capitol, you know, I'm not gonna risk my own safety right now. So I streamed it. And, you know, just same with all the governor's press conferences, she's inviting only a handful, you know, two or three reporters to each one of those at a time, but we're working collaboratively. You know, the press corps here in Lansing is sharing questions with each other. If we know, for instance, Kathy Gray at the Detroit Free Press is going to be at the governor's hearing. We're all feeding her questions in a in a sort of a pool reporter thread to make sure we all still get the chance to ask questions even if we can't do so in person.


Walt Sorg  28:09

And on the plus side, it's available to anybody to they just go on Facebook and watch it as well. So the whole state can watch it and read through the thousands of comments that every one of the governor's news conferences gets pro and con … it does make for some interesting reading, you can get start some wonderful fights without even trying really, but it's a completely different world right now and always appreciative of the work that Bridge does because he covered everything you covered right down the middle. And it's the Old Joe Friday routine. Just the Facts, ma'am.


Jonathan Oosting  28:39

Well, thanks. Well, I really appreciate it.


Walt Sorg  28:41

Jonathan Oosting, thanks for joining us. A second federal court ruling totally unrelated to COVID-19 spoke to the ongoing public education crisis in Detroit schools. Christine, you're kind of our in-house expert on local school board issues and you're a member of your school board. You're in a better position than most To explain this ruling,


Christine Barry  29:01

this whole thing started with a right to read lawsuit. Basically what it's referred to. It originated in Detroit in 2016. And it targeted Governor Snyder. It was filed on behalf of Detroit students. And it argues that the state allowed the school district to deteriorate so badly that learning 3d was nearly impossible. Now, you remember the state controlled the Detroit school district for like seven years, it was it was from 1999, all the way through 2016. I think some of the conditions mentioned that were interfering with the ability to learn and read. Some of those that were listed were classrooms having only five books for 28 students, students teaching each other because there were no teachers 37 chairs in classes of over 50 students, so many students had to stand and I'll tell you what, Walt, we get nervous at our school board. We get nervous when we start seeing numbers over 24 in a class like we start moving things around. I can't imagine having a class of over 50 students, unless it was like a big university lecture. I mean, as a teacher, I would run. I can't imagine that. So this was filed. It originated in 2016. It was targeted. Governor Snyder, Snyder's response was that there is no right to read. He asked the judge to dismiss the suit the suit, and the case was dismissed in 2018 by US District Judge Stephen Murphy. And I'm going to note that that's a bush appointee. So then it was appealed, and it went to the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals is a three-member body they rule two to one, that the students do have a right to basic literacy. The two in the majority are democratic appointees, and they said a few key things here, the recognition of a fundamental right is no small matter, especially because especially when that right is something that the state must affirmatively Provide. But access to literacy is such a right. It is essential to nearly every interaction between a citizen and her government. Education has long been viewed as a great equalizer. And the state controls the resources necessary to fix the problems that the state says should be fixed by local school boards. And that kind of speaks to the fact that the state is saying we no longer control the school. So we shouldn't be the target of this lawsuit. This should be the school districts and the local school boards and so on. But what the court said was, yeah, but these school districts can't do that because the state controls the policy, the funding and so on. So the one judge who dissented from this as a Trump appointee, who says there's nothing in the complaint that gives federal judges the power to oversee Detroit schools. And that's the role of the legislature or the school board's. After that ruling. Here's where we are. The students do have a fundamental but limited right To a basic minimum education, the right is narrow in scope. It's limited to skills deemed essential for the basic exercise of other fundamental rights and liberties, and most importantly, participation in our political system. And therefore, the students have standing to sue the state for violations of this right. It goes back to Detroit now, and it targets governor Whitmer now because of course, she's now the governor in office, the state will have to decide whether it will appeal the ruling. If it does, it'll, I think end up at the US Supreme Court. And of course, a decision at that level will have massive implications.


Walt Sorg  32:39

The other interesting aspect of this is that Dana Nessel disagrees with the governor's position, and as attorney general it is her obligation to represent to the governor's position, but at the same time, she filed an amicus brief on the other side of the case as well. And it's not unusual of Frank Kelly used to do it all the time where he would basically his office would take both sides of a case depending on his views as opposed to the views of whoever was governor at the time.


Christine Barry  33:03

Well, they're both doing their jobs. You know, the attorney general has to go in and defend the state even though if Dana Nessel disagrees with a governor Whitmer has to defend the state's position, which she says, look, we're no longer in charge. We've invested a bunch of money in Detroit already, we should not be a target of this lawsuit, even though governor Whitmer is supportive of the student's position. So they're both doing the jobs that they're supposed to do with their own personal opinions kind of set aside, I hope she doesn't appeal. I hope we can just settle this matter in now in state and then work on a way to make sure that everybody in Michigan is able to learn to read gets it gets access to what they need, so that they can learn to read and be literate.


Walt Sorg  33:53

And all this coming at a time when the state's broke. Yeah,


Christine Barry  33:56

You know, and here's something That's funny that you bring up the money. The Mackinac Center came out with a couple of statements is really just for the press, they put out statements on this one statement. And by the way, for anyone who's listening I'll have I'll have proper citing and everything and attribution in our show notes. But when one of the same as part of it said constitutionalize, a failed approach is counterproductive. And that's something that wasn't done here that we didn't constitutionalize an approach to anything. We simply affirmed that there is a right to basic literacy and in the spirit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That has to be part that's a fundamental right to exercise those things. second statement from then said that this ruling could lead to a series of attempts from poor performing school districts to go to federal court whenever they are unsatisfied with the budget. They have been allocated in the normal school funding process. And there's nothing here that even indicates that would happen. We did you It wasn't a ruling about funding, it was a ruling about a right to literacy. And there are so many creative ways to deliver education to students. Now, that's not even an issue. And I'll tell you what they're doing. They're upset because charter schools now will have to guarantee literacy. And that is my own personal biased opinion on that there's some really good charter schools out there, there really are. But we know that a lot of them are just out there to cash in on education funding. And how many did we see fail in Michigan over 200 since 95.  75 in the Detroit area, those companies still made money those students lost out on their, on their right to literacy the right to an education. So anyway, that's my rant on this. I apologize for dominating our time.


but do you feel better now?


I do for a moment but when given give them time to think about it. I'll be mad again.


Walt Sorg  35:58



Christine Barry  36:04

Anyway, there's still a campaign out there, although it's getting lost in the news cycle. And in honor of the most invisible US Senate campaign in recent Michigan history, we are inaugurating a new segment this week. What is John James not saying now,


Walt Sorg  36:20

John James is alleged to be the Republican candidate for the Senate in Michigan. He has in fact submitted nominating petitions to get his name on the ballot, but he's been invisible to the general public. James has now gone more than 11 months, 325 days since he's done an interview with any Michigan TV station, and about seven months since he's talked with a Michigan newspaper reporter on the record. His paid advertising says he's in favor of healthcare, including covering preexisting conditions. But we haven't heard his position on reopening the Affordable Care Act enrollments to protect people who have lost their healthcare coverage because of job losses. And he's had nothing to say on Mitch McConnell’s suggestion that states facing budget cuts It's easy to the pandemic, if you just go bankrupt from John Jameson these issues so far.


Christine Barry  37:15

other candidates continue to speak out. This week we're joined by the challenger in West Michigan sixth district, State Representative Jon Hoadley is taking on republican Fred Upton, who's been a member of Congress for 34 years, hopefully, is considered one of the nation's best prospects for flipping a congressional district from red to blue.


Walt Sorg  37:34

Jon Hoadley, thank you so much for joining us on the Policast. Let's begin with the issue. The only issue really that's out there right now. COVID-19. And first, the health care side of it, it seems like really between health and economics, the health side is actually easier to deal with even as difficult as it is.


Jon Hoadley  37:52

Well, you know, we don't have a vaccine yet. And that's exactly what we need to be moving towards, so we can make sure that everybody eventually stays safe in hell. The science behind this is pretty clear, we need to make sure that we are getting ahead of this through significant testing and contact tracing. We also know that to mitigate the spread, we're going to need to have sufficient personal protective equipment for folks. And then we need to make sure that there are policies in place for folks who display symptoms, that they can self quarantine and not lose their livelihood, and while maintaining good social distancing practices for the rest of us to reduce community spread. All of this, though, is, you know, dependent upon having a national strategy. And I think that's what's so frustrating to so many of us. It's that, you know, we could have been ahead of this, but for a lack of leadership coming out of President Trump, who then told who did not take this threat seriously, who then told all the governors, it's up to you. And, you know, to this day, we still Don't have a national strategy for this. And, you know, we need a national strategy, not a 50 state strategy or a regional strategy. It seems like the people of Michigan and the people of the country are way ahead of some of their political leaders, at least, the latest poll, I was commissioned by Fox News, which showed overwhelming support for the way the governor is handling it. And very little support for the way the president is handling it. It looked out on the streets and it's just the opposite. When you look at on the astroturfing that's being done at state capitals, it looks a little different. But if you're talking to folks in regular life, they are obviously frustrated and you know, an apprehensive, they want to make sure that they can provide for them for their families and then keep themselves safe. But they also overwhelmingly saying that they recognize that the stay home order has been effective, that we all need to pull together on this and we will get through to the other side. You know, when they saw that stunt that was happening at the Capitol. You know, these astroturf rallies that are paid for by big republican donors. They're not impressed. And when it turns into a de facto Trump rally, Confederate flags flying, at one point we saw even a swastika show up on the Capitol lawn. It really does. You know, I talked to a ton of folks who said, Yeah, I don't want to be associated with that. Even if they had some concerns about the order to begin with. So yeah, regular people support public health. It is just the extremes that are that are not


Walt Sorg  40:35

one of the many issues that comes up as a result of this, especially if we have a second wave in the fall which the the the medical people say is like leaving if the president doesn't say that it's likely is just getting out to vote. We had that fiasco in Wisconsin, people literally getting sick so that you vote, Michigan does have no reason absentee balloting But still, the voters have to take positive action in order to get a ballot so they can vote from home. You see any chance at all that the legislature and the government might change that so that everybody just gets a ballot in the mail?


Jon Hoadley  41:06

I'm going to be advocating for it. I absolutely support Secretary Benson's efforts to encourage more vote by mail. I thought, you know, her efforts to make sure that every municipality that was having an election in May, that every registered voter received an absentee ballot request form, request application that was in a postage paid return envelope was the right thing to do. Because it's ultimately helping more people exercise their voice in their vote in a democratic society. And it's allowing us to do so in a way that keeps more people safe. Even if things are looking a lot different from August or November. I would still think that Secretary Benson absolutely should continue that work. And, you know, elected officials should not be afraid of free and fair and safe elections. And so anyone who needs to know any more colleagues who disagree with that, you know, I think are really undermining democratic values.


Walt Sorg  42:05

The second half of this crisis is financial, especially for state and local governments. But also for the people. We have probably 25 to 30% unemployment right now, state government revenues are just plummeting. It's worse, really than it was during the Great Recession. What is it going to mean for the legislature and the governor? What are they going to be able to deal with those without massive help from the federal government?


Jon Hoadley  42:28

So I'm currently the ranking Democrat, the minority vice chair on the House Appropriations Committee. And you know, I deal with the budget. I'm really worried about our budget picture moving forward. We have some money in our rainy day fund, but it's not enough. And we've watched as the governor and the state budget office have taken some really smart steps to try to stretch, you know, every penny that they've got, but the reality is, is that we're going to need support from the federal government. You know, we can't deficit spend and so we have to get some support. And you know, I hear these comments coming from folks like Mitch McConnell, talking about no blue state bailout, how reprehensible how absurd that he thinks at first like because of how some state voted in an election somehow means that they are less worthy of having their police officers paid that what those teachers in those states deserve to get fired because we can't afford to educate those kids. And then this fiction, that, you know, the way that we get out of a recovery is somehow stopping the economic engine that our state spending that is state government as well. It's absurd. And then on top of it, for Mitch McConnell to look for opportunities that let him destroy pensions and make seniors less secure, because of this pandemic, is just morally reprehensible. And I'm shocked, but I guess not appalled. Or maybe I'm put up the other way. I am appalled, but not shocked that so many Republicans haven't stood up to chastise him for those comments, that whole idea like let the states go bankrupt. I mean, it's the modern day equivalent of let them eat cake.


Walt Sorg  44:13

I heard Governor Cuomo say something to the effect of, it's okay to bail out the airlines and the cruise industry and probably the oil industry. But God forbid we should do something for the cops.


Jon Hoadley  44:23

Yeah, I mean, you know, who does? Who does Mitch McConnell think? And, you know, state governments are, we're on the frontlines providing that making sure that we have the employees to deal with the unemployment insurance agency, where state government helps pay for teachers and our schools, state government. It helps fund our hospitals, state government, make sure that all of those other programs that are going to become even more important, when times are tough, have the funds that they need to be successful. You know, we saw what happened when, you know, the Mitch McConnell’s of the world and the republicans that support that that fantasy, economically theories of theirs, when they were in charge related to the economic receptions of the you know, 2008 2009, we were in a longer economic recession than we needed to be. Because, you know, they just refused to make sure that we were actually supporting some of the most important drivers of economic activity, including our states and local governments. And on top of that, you know, let's not forget that the biggest places that got cut were higher education, and so many state budgets across the country, including in Michigan. And all we did is tell our whole generation that they absolutely still needed to get a college education for the vast majority of jobs that were being created. And that they had to shoulder that burden and student debt themselves. Because folks like Mitch McConnell didn't think that they deserve an affordable higher education. And we have a generation living with that. So I'm furious right now about those comments. And, you know, shame on Mitch McConnell and everybody that's empowering him because you're literally telling our communities in Michigan that their kids don't deserve good schools that they that those cops don't deserve to get paid. It's it's reprehensible.


Walt Sorg  46:11

Well, so far the and the pandemic has mostly hit the drivers of our nation's economy. It's New York, it's Detroit, Chicago. It's to a lesser extent California. And now apparently, it's going to be Atlanta as well, thanks to their various governor opening up the massage parlors and the bowling alleys. But eventually it's going to get to the rural areas as well. It's already happening at the Meatpacking plants. At that point, you think maybe the McConnell's of the world will wake up?


Jon Hoadley  46:40

I don't know. You know, I there's I think like so many Americans. You know, we're just getting exhausted by always hoping that, you know, for some reason that like Mitch McConnell’s better angels will appear We're all wondering because you remember how hard it was for even for him to get, you know, to take care of first responders and make sure that the 911 bills moved through. And yeah, and I watched this being as a state legislator, and I see that this is the kind of thing that happens so frequently with many of my Republican colleagues, and I'm not saying every republican is a bad person out in the world. But you know, when I watch the leadership coming out of Mitch McConnell, when folks like Fred Upton, just parrot the lines and go with the flow that either supporting President Trump or allowing Mitch McConnell to continue when I see my Republican colleagues in the legislature rather play political games than actually solve the problems. It starts to wonder right, isn't it maybe it's time that that, you know, we really move in a different direction and I get it. That's why so many independents, so many former republicans are looking for something different, particularly when it comes to elections. In the Summer and the fall.


Walt Sorg  48:01

Let's talk a little bit of just about the politics of your race, and also your next door neighbor, Hillary Shelton who's running over in what's now a district represented by Justin Amash who may or may not be running and god knows what he's up to. But both of you are running into first of all DeVos money, which is no surprise. But also both of you, as challengers are handicapped by the fact that you can't be knocking on doors, you can't be going to events. You can't be doing the typical glad handing that a political campaign is all about. How are you substituting How are you adapting?


Jon Hoadley  48:32

Well, we need as much help from folks like you and anybody who's listening to the podcast. Because the word of mouth is still the best advertising and if we can't knock on doors, we need your help to spread our message. You know, I talked about I'm running for congress because we need to put people in community back at the center of our decisions. And that has become painfully apparent that the choices that congressman opt in is made over the last 10-20-30-40 years he's been an office has not set us up for success. Today, now, with student debt was a problem before this, it's only going to get worse. You know, he voted to take away health care over 60 times, and now we're in a global health pandemic, you know, for he voted against the environment for decades. And now we're in a in a global climate crisis, and we've got a shot clock on what it's going to take to get this, right. So, you know, we gotta have folks that are still spreading that message. And that means that we need people to like and share our stuff online, to continue to chip in at to support our work financially so we can continue to spread the message, and then find more ways to talk to friends and neighbors because folks are paying attention online right now. And, you know, we need to make sure that they know that there is it doesn't have to be this way. And there are great candidates out there like Hillary and myself, who are working in who are working really hard to change the landscape for the better. You're also impacted by the digital divide. It's A lot easier for you now to reach out to people that have good internet access. Yeah, it's in, it's playing out in our schools and so many other different ways. We recently were just working on a policy piece about that, and also just did a petition talking about the fact that the digital divide is real. There's a reason that in Lansing, I have spoken out against many of the ways that big telecom has tried to rig the rules in their own favor. And, you know, this is something I think you're going to see a lot more folks talking about. I don't know about you, but I am tired of every one of those big telecoms come on with their handout asking for money to do rural broadband. And yet everyone I talked to in the rural broadband in the rural space still says, we don't have good internet, where the money go, you know, when I look at things like we got rid of net neutrality, and you know, and now that they're trying to have different packages to pay for different speeds, you know, it's begging the question, how is this divide going to get worse and you know, At the end of the day, we're living in a world that the internet is a utility that every single one of us needs. So if we figured out how to make sure that we've had clean water, and we're running water all across the state, if we figured out how to electrify the prairie, we can definitely figure out how to make sure everybody gets fast, reliable internet.


Walt Sorg  51:23

And I'm not even sure about that clean water part right now.


Jon Hoadley  51:26

I was gonna say I mean, you know, it is a reminder that when so many of our city pipes were laid, right, for all the things that go went wrong, right. 100 years ago, there was this investment and this idea that we want to invest in things that lift everybody up. And you know, sanitation and water were key parts of that. And then there was an ideology that just let that atrophy for years. And of course, then we saw, you know, the situation in Flint, and in so many places across the state in country where a willful neglect has endangered lives. And it doesn't have to be that way. And that's the thing I, you know, I always try to end on making sure that I'm talking about the hope, because you don't run for office if you think things can only get worse. And I absolutely believe if we put good people in government can do good things. And that means that we just have to come together, we have to take a chance on making and doing something different because we can have great schools, we can have roads without potholes, we can have jobs that, you know, pay a good wage and with one job being enough, but we got to declare that we are doing something different. And I think voters are really hungry for change right now.


Walt Sorg  52:42

And it really shouldn't be a partisan issue. You look back the last national huge public works project we had was the interstate highway system driven by Dwight Eisenhower. In Michigan, our university system was really built in large part by George Romney.


Jon Hoadley  52:58

You know, these institutions that we all use are things that we should all invest in? And coming out of this, I think it's the time is now for sort of bold ideas. We know that we're that we have to rebuild so much of our state infrastructure. And we also know that a lot of folks are going to need jobs moving forward. So let's, you know, let's make sure that we are investing in ourselves. And by that I mean, both our state and our community in the people who live here, we can do that. And if we have strong leadership coming out of DC, if we have strong leadership, and we do at the state level, with Governor Whitmer, we can do some incredible things in the State of Michigan. And we can rebuild an economy and rebuild our communities that are healthier, that are more environmentally friendly or that are sustainable. They have great jobs, but we got to do something different. And so I think voters are gonna vote for some change as we move towards November.


Walt Sorg  53:49

Well, let's wrap up with the website one more time.


Jon Hoadley  53:52

If you want to help us, and our volunteer link is


Walt Sorg  53:59

outstanding Generally, best wishes to you in the campaign. Be safe. Wash your hands, and we'll talk with you soon.


Jon Hoadley  54:05

Thanks. Well,


Walt Sorg  54:06

what's been fascinating with the Hoadley campaign is he's really, as we've talked, talked about in the interview, he's really done a lot of online work now to substitute for being for being able to go door to door and talk directly with the voters. In fact, to the point where he's doing zoom stuff all the time. The one I find the most intriguing was he actually had a zoom yoga workout in the last week for his supporters. And all he had to do was click on a link and you could do yoga, which I totally,


Christine Barry  54:33

I do think that the isolation and the zoom and that kind of communication with people has actually made people connect better than they would have. Otherwise. I know that my company, our CEO, I feel is doing just a wonderful job keeping in touch with us and he's zooming these meetings from his home, and he's much more genuine and relatable than he would have been in a more Formal environment, I think so I can see this being used in a really beneficial way by people who are genuinely comfortable speaking, you know, with other people being with people and just at what hosting a yoga class or whatever, I think is a really fun way to, you know, let people get to know you and connect with you.


Walt Sorg  55:23

And as we discussed with Jon Hoadley, though, does create a two tiered campaign, you've had a campaign for people that have good internet access and are computer literate, and for those who are not or don't have the access, so it does create some problems. There are a couple of things on the campaign that I found of interest and we'll post a link to this, the Daily Kos’ posted the fundraising totals for the first quarter. And just looking at the Michigan numbers, a couple of things that stand out is the two seats that were flipped last time the eighth district with Elissa Slotkin and the 11th district with Haley Stephens. The two of them have just kicking butt when it comes to raising money. Haley Stephens right now has cash on hand as at the end of the quarter $2.45 million in the bank. None of the people that want to run against her have anywhere near that amount. Elissa Slotkin has a mind blowing $3.7 million in the bank ready to go. And none of the four people that are running answer come anywhere near her as well. The other number that kind of stands out to in the contested districts. Peter Meyer over in the third district, which is the Justin Amash district has quite a bit of money on hand, but considering the family he comes from, it's not all that great. He's got $634,000 cash on hand at the end of the quarter. Hillary Shelton, who is the only democrat running has about half that amount, a little less than half. So she's in a decent position. Amash has $645,000 banked as well and has raised good money but we still don't know what he's running for. And because of the federal court rule that we were talking about earlier, we may not know for a while whether Justin Amash is running for reelection an independent or is going to run for president or who knows what he's gonna do.


Christine Barry  57:05

And there's a new polling with nothing but good news for Michigan Democrats. It's a 600 person poll of Michigan voters commissioned by Fox News.


Walt Sorg  57:15

It is amazing. It shows basically that Joe Biden has an eight point lead on Donald Trump in the state, which is a big switch from Trump winning the state by one 10th of 1% over Hillary Clinton The last time the numbers are 49-41. And it's interesting that it shows that if Gretchen Whitmer versus running mate, he wins, he's Leeds 49-43. on the Senate side, chose Gary Peters with a big lead over John James46% to 36%.


Christine Barry  57:45

I'm sorry, I'm sorry, over who?


Walt Sorg  57:47

JOHN James nice guy. I'm sure you'll probably see his TV ads, you certainly won't see him or hear about him. And then favorability ratings. Good and good news. for Democrats, bad news for Republicans, Governor Whitmer is favorable unfavorable on job performance overall, is 58-37. So she's plus 21. There. Joe Biden is 53-43. So he's plus 10. Donald Trump 44-52. So he's minus eight. Again, no surprise there. The numbers as you go right down the list, everything is bad for Trump and good for Whitmer and good for Gary Peters so far. On the way the governor's hand on the Coronavirus situation in Michigan. She scores a 64-32 approval rating in this poll, which is a little bit higher than the poll we were discussing earlier. It was conducted for the Detroit Chamber of Commerce. And most people are pretty comfortable with their stay at home order by a margin of 64 to 33. They think it's either just about right or not restrictive enough. So she's on the right side of the angels when it comes to the politics of dealing with the COVID-19. We will have a link to the full poll on our website in the show notes really interesting material and the fact that it was commissioned by Fox News and provides good numbers for Democrats. I think it was a deeper and a little bit more credibility. And that's going to do it for this week's Policast Our thanks to representative Jon Hoadley and bridge magazine's Jonathan Oosting for sharing their wisdom.


Christine Barry  59:17

For more information on today's subjects head on over to, I'll have links, videos, tweets, and just everything that you need to get through your week. We welcome your feedback you can email us at


Walt Sorg  59:33

Thank you for listening. It's time now for Lysol cocktail Quinn's more than a week,


Gretchen Whitmer  59:38

there is and will be light at the end of the tunnel. But I want to be crystal clear. The overarching message today is still the same. We all need to do our part and staying home is the best way to prevent spread of COVID-19

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