Michigan Policast for Monday, March 8, 2021In this episode:
- Segment one: COVID-19 and vaccine updates
- Segment two: Michigan election audit, Trump/Shirkey's Big Lie
- Segment three: Sam Inglott of Progress Michigan on transparency reform
- Segment four: Political notes
- Segment five: Remembering Frank Kelley
- Transcript – on the way!
- Whitmer: Michigan to relax restaurant, business COVID-19 restrictions
- Business leaders to Whitmer: Time to ease Michigan restaurant restrictions | Bridge Michigan
- Visitation resumes amid COVID in Michigan nursing homes — with limits | Bridge Michigan
“At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress. Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of covid-19 in our communities, not when we are so close. We have the ability to stop a potential fourth surge of cases in this country. Please stay strong in your conviction. Continue wearing your well-fitted mask and taking the other public health prevention actions that we know work.” ~ Dr Rochelle Walensky
- Opinion | Greg Abbott is endangering the health of Texas and beyond – The Washington Post
- Greg Abbot Executive Order
- Data shows Whitmer's COVID-19 restrictions worked: How Michigan compared to nearby states
- Dolly Parton, who helped fund the Moderna vaccine, gets a ‘dose of her own medicine.’ – The New York Times
- Michigan expects to receive record shipment of COVID-19 vaccine
- Michigan sees COVID-19 vaccine boost from Johnson & Johnson
- Michigan ready to open COVID-19 vaccine to people over age 50
- Bridge Michigan coronavirus dashboard
- White House and Detroit officials seek to limit fallout after mayor initially declines Johnson & Johnson vaccine – CNNPolitics
- Duggan welcomes J&J COVID shots after prior comments come under fire
“So, Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best. And I am going to do everything I can to make sure the residents of the City of Detroit get the best,” Duggan said during a news conference Thursday. ~Source
- Poll: Many Michigan Republicans skeptical about COVID-19 vaccine
- EPIC:MRA Poll March 1
- Whitmer's popularity dips; pollster cites coronavirus fatigue
- Broad, Bipartisan Support for $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package Persists as Senate Gears Up to Tackle Bill
- Michigan passes $4.2B COVID relief, after Whitmer, GOP play loose with facts | Bridge Michigan
- Michigan GOP goes after state's powers in $4.2B COVID-19 relief plan
- Michigan House OKs $4.2B in COVID spending, ties $1.2B to power limits
Every Republican voted NO on sending you a stimulus check.
Every Republican voted NO on faster vaccine distribution.
Every Republican voted NO on economic relief for renters, small businesses & schools.
Every Republican voted NO on cutting child poverty in half.
— Rep. Dan Kildee (@RepDanKildee) March 6, 2021
- Ex-Michigan unemployment director got $85,000 in resignation
- Former Michigan health director got payout in confidentiality deal
- Ex-Michigan health department head receives $155K following resignation
- Michigan Gov. Whitmer pledged transparency. Now she defends secret deals. | Bridge Michigan
- Michigan separation agreement for second ex-health department employee worth thousands
- Michigan UIA director received nearly $86K payout, plus confidentiality agreement
- Whitmer ‘bristles' at calling ex-health director's separation agreement ‘hush money'
- It's ‘possible' Whitmer, Robert Gordon differed on COVID orders, new health director says
- Michigan completes most comprehensive post-election audit in state history: What it showed
- Michigan audits debunk stolen election claims once and for all | Opinion
- Democrats eye national elections overhaul amid GOP crackdown – The Washington PostStolen-Election Myth Fuels G.O.P. Push to Change Voting Laws – The New York Times
- McConnell asks the Supreme Court to obliterate the Voting Rights Act – Popular Information
On March 7 1965 John Lewis brutally beaten marching for voting rights on Bloody Sunday in Selma
56 years later Republicans have introduced 253 new voter suppression laws in 43 states
This is why we need to pass John Lewis Voting Rights Act & For the People Act pic.twitter.com/oarNnaBfeJ
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 7, 2021
- A GOP Lawyer Says the Quiet Part Out Loud in SCOTUS Voting Rights Case – Mother Jones
- Election Meltdown | Yale University Press
- House Democrats poised to pass sweeping elections bill – The Washington Post
- Republicans Are Taking Their Voter Suppression Efforts to New Extremes
Justice Barrett asks GOP lawyer Michael Carvin in AZ case: “why is the RNC in this case?”
Carvin admits striking down restrictions on voting “puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats”
Another example of Republicans saying the quiet part out loud
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 2, 2021
It’s unconscionable that 56 years to the day since Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama that we are still arguing about voter suppression and intimidation in America
— Daniel Uhlfelder (@DWUhlfelderLaw) March 7, 2021
— Mid-Michigan NOW (@midmichigannow) March 2, 2021
- REAL FOIA REFORM BALLOT INITIATIVE PLANNED BY PROGRESS MICHIGAN
- Michigan ranks low in government transparency. Ballot drive would extend FOIA
- Michigan lawmakers back transparency reform. Will Mike Shirkey let it happen?
- House Fiscal Agency analysis of House Bills 4483 through 4392
- Senate majority leader wants more study on FOIA bills
Looking over the #FOIA bills to be considered in a House committee tomorrow.
A large exemption for the governor's office is back in the proposal.
The argument is that if lawmaker/constituent communications are exempt so should governor/constituent communications. pic.twitter.com/mGx4yqGsI8
— Craig Mauger (@CraigDMauger) March 3, 2021
Taken together, House Bills 4483 through 4392 would add Part 2 to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to implement a new Legislative Open Records Act (LORA) that would serve to bring the legislature under FOIA. The bills would also remove the current exemption from FOIA for the governor, lieutenant governor, and executive office employees. The bills would change the name of FOIA to the Freedom of Information and Legislative Open Records Act. The bills would take effect January 1, 2022. ~Source
This week, Shirkey promised only to “review” the bills should they reach the floor. In the past, he said he feared allowing the public to obtain certain records from the taxpayer-funded Legislature could “discourage negotiations, discourage conversation” in Lansing. ~Source
- ‘MAGA Bride’ planning run for Congress to unseat Meijer
- MAGA-themed wedding pays tribute to President Trump
- GOP Rep. Peter Meijer: “I will vote to impeach”
- Protesters against Michigan's stay-at-home order removed from the state House, video shows
- Meijer attracts GOP primary challenger after impeachment vote
President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to undermine our constitutional process, and he bears responsibility for inciting the insurrection we suffered last week. With a heavy heart, I will vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump. pic.twitter.com/SREfFp0nd2
— Rep. Peter Meijer (@RepMeijer) January 13, 2021
Protesters rallying against Michigan's stay-at-home order were removed from the state House today. https://t.co/MPEw0oovpu
— Motor City Muckraker (@MCmuckraker) April 29, 2020
- Haley Stevens defeats Lena Epstein in race for open U.S. House seat
- Lena Epstein on Gender, Politics, and Business
One name Republicans have mentioned as a potential 2022 governor candidate is Lena Epstein. She ran for an open U.S. House seat in suburban Detroit in 2018, lost to Democrat Haley Stevens. She co-owns Vesco Oil Corp. #migov https://t.co/mVYVaA65BT
— David Eggert (@DavidEggert00) February 26, 2021
She calls herself “an unapologetic conservative” but replies to questions about social issues such as abortion or the #MeToo movement with a terse “Next question.” ~Source
- Michigan Senate leader's business OK'd for second federal loan amid COVID aid fight
- Shirkey's Orbitform building N95 mask sanitizer machine for hospitals
- Meet Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey
Is Republican Congressman Tim Walberg threatening donors with his political power? Sure as hell looks like it to me. https://t.co/EvkydBtnep
— Chris Savage (@Eclectablog) March 5, 2021
- PolitiFact | Three-hour delay: A Pentagon-National Guard timeline for Jan. 6
- Capitol riot hearing: D.C. Guard chief says ‘unusual' restrictions slowed deployment of backup – The Washington Post
- Military reaction was ‘sprint speed,’ top officer says as Pentagon takes heat for Capitol riot response
- Pentagon placed limits on D.C. Guard ahead of pro-Trump protests due to narrow mission
- Pentagon faces scrutiny over response to Capitol riot
- Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn denies relationship with brother Michael Flynn was a factor in military’s response to Capitol attack
- ‘Picasso' of gerrymandering selected to draw new districts
- Redistricting commission picks company with rep for gerrymandering
- AMERICAN HORRIBLE STORY – GERRYMANDERING
Michigan's new redistricting commission plans to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to extend the Nov. 1 deadline for completing the redrawing of the state's voting boundaries. https://t.co/32eMLYGeHS
— The Detroit News (@detroitnews) March 5, 2021
I was grateful to be able to speak at this afternoon’s Redistricting Commission Zoom public hearing.
— Tim Greimel (@Greimel4Pontiac) March 6, 2021
- Massive investment in social studies and civics education proposed to address eroding trust in democratic institutions
- Educating for American Democracy
- Why are Parkland Students So Articulate? Because They Were Taught Civics in Middle School
There's virtually no one alive who was friends with the late Frank Kelley longer than Walt Sorg @mipolicast—53 years. He's next with some memories and context of the “Eternal General” on The Morning Wake Up @1320WILS pic.twitter.com/jKNrWomQmr
— Dave Akerly (@DaveAkerlyOnAir) March 8, 2021
- Frank J. Kelley – Wikipedia
- Michigan's longest-serving attorney general Frank Kelley dies at 96
- Frank Kelley, Michigan’s longtime attorney general, dies at 96 | Bridge Michigan
- James J. Blanchard Living Library Of Michigan Political History | Frank J. Kelley
— Mark Brewer (@MarkBrewerDems) March 7, 2021
Joneigh Khaldun 00:04
This pandemic is not over. And we must all continue to remain vigilant. But the good news is we have the tools that we need to fight this pandemic back. Over 60 million Americans have been vaccinated across the country, and over 2.2 million Michiganders have received the safe and effective vaccines.
Walt Sorg 00:27
Federal and State Health officials warned that we may be spiking the ball on the 10 yard line, which makes it a big fumble. Even as politicians ease up on precautions. I'm Walt Sorg
Gretchen Whitmer 00:42
Tim, you know, I really bristle at the characterization.
Christine Barry 00:48
The governor moves to relax restrictions on restaurants and nursing homes. But I knew controversy over big payouts to departing officials as a big distraction from the battle against the virus. I'm Christine Barry.
This is Michigan Policast with Walt Sorg in Christine Barry, Michigan politics and policy and the National stories impacting our pleasant peninsulas.
Walt Sorg 01:12
Later in the podcast, we'll be joined by Progress Michigan's Sam Inglot on a petition drive aimed at finally bringing some openness to the legislature and the governor's office. But first, let's go out for dinner.
Gretchen Whitmer 01:25
Today we are announcing that restaurants and bars can operate at 50% capacity. That's up from 25%. I'm also pleased that we can now allow visitations at nursing homes too.
Christine Barry 01:38
The Governor makes a move that's popular with a lot of constituencies, but that doesn't include public health officials. While it's not as extreme as the everything is wide open mandates in Texas, Mississippi and other red states. It still runs counter to the advice from the head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky:
the current numbers remain concerning cases and deaths are still too high, and have now plateaued for more than a week at levels we saw during the late summer surge following six weeks of steady declines. This is why I'm asking you to double down on our prevention measures. I know the idea of relaxing mask wearing and getting back to everyday activities is appealing, but we're not there yet. And we have been we have seen this movie before when prevention measures like mask mandates are rolled back. cases go up.
Walt Sorg 02:29
But for Michigan the mask mandate stays in place and that is a good thing. Contrast Michigan's cautious approach to Texas where governor Abbott threw caution to the wind and said y'all come on down. Now everything's wide open and masks are no longer necessary. Dr. Walenski noted a new CDC study that basically calls that decision, a death sentence for an awful lot of Texans
Rochelle Walensky 02:51
The researchers found it increases in both daily death rates and COVID cases and deaths slowed significantly within 20 days of putting mask mandates into place and protective effect of the mask mandates grew stronger over time. In contrast, increases in daily death rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths grew more quickly within 40 to 80 days following restaurants being allowed to resume on premises dining. This report is a critical reminder that with the current levels of COVID-19 in communities and the continued spread of more transmissible virus variants, which have now been detected in 48 states, strictly following prevention measures remains essential for putting an end to this pandemic. It also serves as a warning about prematurely lifting these prevention measures.
Christine Barry 03:48
Here's what Abbott did in his executive order. He said that there are no limits on any business or other establishment unless the local hospitals have high hospitalization rate. And he said that no local jurisdiction can order establishments to close to less than 50% regardless of the hospitalization rate. Nor can they impose any kind of penalty for not wearing a mask. I don't have much to add to what Dr Walensky said but only about 13% of Texas has been vaccinated while there are so many vulnerable people in there and new variants coming in.
Walt Sorg 04:25
Well, not only that they've got spring break coming in, and in southern near along the Gulf Coast. That can be a really big deal. I said at the beginning it's like spiking the ball in the 10 yard line. Another football comparison, which I hope fans would understand is its first and goal at the 10 yard line. We can see the goal line in our sights, but that means you don't give up on the fundamentals you continue to block you continue to tackle, you continue to fight and for COVID. The fundamentals are social distancing and wearing a mask and you've got to keep up with the fundamentals too. We crossed the goal line and we aren't, we just ain't there yet. And we've got a long ways to go until we've got the herd immunity that we need to state. Now is not the time to let up, you know, As tempting as it is, I'm sure not going out to a restaurant right now I ordered, ordered takeout the other night. And that's what I'm going to continue to do for a long time. I'm not going to sit down at a restaurant, I'm certainly not taking off my masks. And I assume you're doing the same.
Christine Barry 05:23
Yep, exactly the same, although good news is I will be eligible for the vaccine very soon.
Walt Sorg 05:29
Well, that's because you're not as old as me.
Christine Barry 05:32
Well, the new Michigan restrictions ease up on indoor dining, retail and entertainment venues, these can increase to 50% with a cap at 300 people, the governor said home visits can resume if certain conditions are met. And you know, these are things that we're doing as well as other things that are also against the advice of Dr. Walensky, because as you said, we are we are so close, we're almost there. And she said there's been a 2% increase nationwide, in both the seven day average of cases and the seven day average deaths. So we absolutely like we're at the cusp, we absolutely have to hang on here.
Walt Sorg 06:10
We'll be talking about the change at the top of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services a little bit later. But one thing that we came up is speculation senator Jeff Irwin mentioned this, that it is very likely he feels that Robert Gordon resigned because he objected to the governor lifting the restrictions on restaurants. He didn't think it was a good idea. And so he he had to leave his resignation was announced at the same time that the governor started easing up on the restrictions on restaurants. I think she is beginning finally to feel the political pressure to move on something. She's trying to stay one step ahead of the legislature. But in the process, she lost her director of Health and Human Services. And the two it looks like the two actually may be very well related. There was one good piece of good news this week in the COVID battle besides vaccinations going up, and that came from Nashville, Tennessee
Joe Biden 07:00
vaccine vaccine, vaccine bankruptcy. I'm begging you please don't hesitate vaccine vaccine vaccine vaccine because once you made that submit to lay
Christine Barry 07:16
American treasure Dolly Parton waited her turn in line for the vaccine even after donating $1 million for its development. And she celebrated in a purely Dolly way. Michigan has now asked the 2 million mark in initial vaccinations with supplies ramping up. It comes even as infections, hospitalizations and deaths are plateauing after two months of reductions. State Health Director Dr. Joneigh Khaldhn
Joneigh Khaldun 07:42
cases are now at about 91 cases per million people slightly lower than where we were the previous week. Test positivity is now at 3.7% and has increased slightly from 3.5%. The previous week. This is similar to where we were in the beginning of October. This past week. The most reported new outbreaks included K through 12 schools, followed by manufacturing and construction and long term care facilities. Overall, long term care facilities still have the most ongoing outbreaks and make up over 40% of all reported ongoing outbreaks. We are also still concerned about the B 117 variant that has been identified in the state. So far, there have been 422 identify cases of the B 117. parent, about two thirds of those have been associated with an outbreak at a correctional facility. But there are other places in the state where we do not know where those individuals became infected with the variant, which means there's likely some undetected spread occurring in the community.
Walt Sorg 08:51
And the good news for Michigan is of course the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is being shipped and we'll be getting a lot of those doses in the state during this week so we can increase vaccinations. But Detroit's Mayor Mike Duggan caused a small Firestorm when he initially said he didn't want the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine for Detroiters because it wasn't as good. He was immediately contradicted by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Anthony Fauci 09:13
We have three highly efficacious vaccines with a very good safety profile. Each of them are very effective in preventing clinically apparent disease. But importantly, all three of them have a very important effect of being extraordinarily effective in preventing severe disease and particularly preventing hospitalizations and deaths. that's point number one. It's a question if you go in and a vaccine is available to you. I would take the first available vaccine because the most important thing to do is to get vaccinated and not to try and figure out what One may be or may not be better than the other.
Christine Barry 10:03
And, Walt if you look at some of the links that we'll have in our show notes, there is one that breaks down how the testing worked. And so the Johnson and Johnson vaccine test numbers, make it look like that vaccine is not as effective as the other two, but that's because the tests aren't at parity. It's not really apples and apples, they were developed at different times. And they're developed in different ways the Johnson and Johnson is one shot and doesn't have this same handling requirements as the other two. So I think what Duggan did was probably misunderstand the different testing context. And maybe it was just strong speak from someone who was thinking how important it was to build confidence, because what he said was he was going to get the best for Detroiters, but he didn't recognize the impact of saying Johnson and Johnson was good, but not the best. And so after that, he did have to clearly walk back or address what he said. Another challenge we have with vaccines is the partisan split over who is willing to be vaccinated. Recent EPIC MRA poll of likely voters 47% of Republicans said they do not plan to get vaccinated compared with 46% who do plan to get the vaccine. That is like half and half, you know, kind of kind of in line with everything else that's going on in that party, half and half.
Walt Sorg 11:24
It skews young, older people by far are willing and wanting to get the vaccine. I've got something here I've been saving for a while. This is a press release I got from the governor's office one year ago this Wednesday, March 10 2020. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Oakland County Health Division in Wayne County Health Department announced today the two Michigan residents tested presumptive positive for coronavirus disease covid 19, the first confirmed cases in the state. That was one year ago this Wednesday, how far we've come now with nearly 16,000 Michiganders killed by this virus in the last year. And the numbers have stabilized but they are still at a very high level. We've got a long ways to go. Like I said before, we can't we can't give up blocking and tackling yet because we're still on the 10 yard line. We're not in the end zone by any means.
Christine Barry 12:17
I just want to remind people to understand this is going to be a very tough time for a lot of people in the Detroit area because we are coming on the time when they just basically their ass kicked by COVID-19 and I lost five friends all within a couple of weeks. And it was such a painful time. So keep your friends in mind as they go through this horrible anniversary. another poll that was run by EPIC MRA The governor's approach to the pandemic still has the support of the majority of Michiganders, but that support is shrinking. She still gets a positive job approval rating 52% to 47%. At her favourability rating is 49% positive to 44%. So it's it's clear that her work is still supported by the majority of Michiganders, but also that this past year has just been a trying time. I mean, we even have 69% giving the Michigan economy and negative reading which is up from I think 49% last summer it'll be in the show notes. It's tough. It's a tough time.
Walt Sorg 13:23
Well, this also is very cynical time to people after the last year I think are exhausted with politicians and government and everything else. In the EPIC MRA poll both Joe Biden and Gretchen Whitmer basically pulled identically on favorability Biden It was 49-45 wittmer 49-44. Trump, by the way, came in at 40%, favorable 55% unfavorable, and Kamala Harris came in at 46-42. So it kind of breaks down along the partisan split in Michigan. But people are much happier about as you say, the way the governor is handling the problem, although that is coming down. But she and Joe Biden's still get positive marks. I suspect that Biden's remarks especially are going to come up quite a bit now that the Congress has reached agreement on the COVID relief bill. And we're all going to be getting a huge deposit into our checking accounts are getting a large check in the next few days. And you may recall we mentioned a problem that they had that could have been a political firestorm Have they not addressed it and that was the fact that unemployment benefits are taxable. One of the things included in the COVID relief bill is to make the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits last year, tax exempt. So if you're in a 10% tax bracket where most people are going to be if they've lost their job, and they're living on unemployment, that's $1,000 more in their pocket that they're not gonna have to pay out to the IRS so that at least that was one Crisis averted in the bill. And the overall bill Wall Street loves it because it's going to it should really pump up the economy and in increased demand because it is putting a lot of money. into the economy right away, whether it's for schools, whether it's for state and local governments, whether it is for critical infrastructure projects, such as mass transit, which is very important to getting people vaccinated. That's why they're shoring up mass transit. I know the bus system here in Lansing is bleeding cash, because people aren't riding on it as much because of the pandemic. Yet if the buses stopped running, how are a lot of people going to get to the get the vaccine?
Christine Barry 15:27
Yeah, exactly. We have to get the money into the economy. And that includes the money here at the state level, the republicans in the legislature continue their assault on the governor's emergency powers, using billions in federal COVID relief money as their weapon, effectively putting Michigan citizens right in the middle of their tantrum. And among other things, Senate Majority Leader Mike shirkey wants Michigan to pretty much follow the lead of Texas, a state which happens to have one of the worst infection rate increases in the nation already. Here's governor Greg Abbott,
Greg Abbott 15:58
effective next Wednesday. All businesses of any type are allowed to open 100%. That includes any type of entity in Texas. Also, I am ending the statewide mask mandate.
Radio Host 16:27
Let's say you are governor, what what would you do?
Mike Shirkey 16:30
I would do something similar. Not exactly the same. But similar to what governor Abbott has done in Texas.
Radio Host 16:38
Mike, you're not hitching your wagon to Texas are you?
Mike Shirkey 16:44
Using as an example, and identifying and reinforcing that we've all learned what to do over this past year to stay and remain safe and continue to increase to do so. But then businesses and organizations start determining with safe for them with let them start determining where it's safe for them to start opening up to full capacity.
Christine Barry 17:06
And what does Joe Biden think of that approach?
Joe Biden 17:08
The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything's fine. Take off your mask. Forget it. It still matters.
Christine Barry 17:17
Shirkey was interviewed on Jackson's WKHM. And it's interesting that he said that we have all learned what to do when you just heard all that applause when Greg Abbott said no more mask mandate that you know, the people who they're pandering to haven't learned anything.
Walt Sorg 17:35
The logic is people are going to do the responsible thing because they know what to do. Well, we all know that it is irresponsible to drink and drive. We all know that it's irresponsible to murder people. We still have laws for those who choose to be irresponsible. And there's a good reason for that. It's because people will be irresponsible on times. It's maybe considered an insult to those of us who wouldn't consider drinking and driving and those of us who wouldn't consider murdering somebody. But still the laws written need to remain on the books.
Christine Barry 18:04
But what the republicans in Lansing have done is tied some of this aid that we've been given. They've tied it to legislation that would prevent the state health department from issuing orders that ban in person classes or stop sporting events due to COVID-19. It also restricts it restricts what local health departments would be allowed to do. So I think I think it was Joneigh Khaldun who was talking about an outbreak at a correctional facility in this legislation that the republicans have written, local health department's could not consider outbreaks at correctional facilities. And the republicans are framing this as an opportunity for the governor to check her ego and help people. So here we are, again, with this attitude that started in lame duck before she even took office about restricting the executive and expanding the legislature. And unfortunately, they're holding up the millions of dollars in aid that would give people relief and get our economy going. And this idiot Shirkey goes on the radio and says I just want to open up like Texas, although, you know, I'm just using that as an example. Because you know, Senate Majority Leader Mike shirkey can't say anything and actually stand by it, idiot.
Walt Sorg 19:27
And it's only going to get worse as we go down the pike because this new COVID Relief Act that the President will be signing probably this week provides billions of dollars in aid for Michigan State Government. So it's going to give the Michigan legislature even more money not to spend until Gretchen Whitmer gives them their way. So this fight is going to go on for weeks and weeks, if not months. And it's only going to get nastier and nastier. And not helping things as the governor gave the republicans some ammunition for their political war, with some controversial going away presence. For the Former DHHS director that we mentioned earlier, as well as two other top appointed officials. Whitmer was pretty angry about defending the payouts as a common business practice, which it is in the private sector, not so much. So when you talk about the government
Gretchen Whitmer 20:16
separation agreements to your question are used often in the public and private sector, when someone in a leadership position leaves an organization, and due to the nature of the agreement, there's not a lot more that I can say on the subject. However, I do want to say this. There were not any improprieties with director Gordon's work. It's simply that he tendered his resignation, and I accepted it. And I appointed a new director Elizabeth hotel who has hit the ground running, she's doing incredible work. And she needed to put her own team together at DHHS, so that we can stay laser focus on ramping up our vaccine effort and endless pandemic and get to life back to life as normal sooner. So I'm going to have to respect the nature of the Separation Agreement. But I'll say that I did really appreciate Roberts work, and I wish him well, in the future.
Walt Sorg 21:13
She's getting a lot of heat on this. And I think rightly so. The separation agreements are not common in government. Although I've got to admit, when I left a government agency leadership position many years ago, I had a Separation Agreement, which both sides agreed to, I didn't leave under hostile circumstances by any means there was no impropriety. Trust me on that. But we just decided to as a part of my departure, I was given some additional severance pay and moved on, you know, it does happen from time to time, but it is not very common, like the governor said,
Christine Barry 21:46
Well, I think this would have been a smaller problem, still a problem, but a smaller problem. Had we just said he's leaving. And these are the terms of our separ – Well, not the terms of our separation agreements. But we have a separation separation agreement in place. We're not going to speak about the details, but we are going to go in a different direction. I think everyone understands that Robert Gordon was just about science. And Governor Whitmer has to balance the science and the public health and the economy and education, she has to balance everything. And so yes, there's this much of a risk because of what you say with the science. But there's this other risk over here of these kids are getting educated or other things happening in that state. So I don't see any problem with them separating based on different priorities. And I really don't even see a problem with a Separation Agreement. It just feels like if you have a Separation Agreement, you should just come right out and say it because it is the public sector. It's not a private company, a lot of the people who are really beating on her want us to run government like a business. So there you go.
Walt Sorg 23:02
And all of this is being exacerbated by lines that are being propagated on social media regarding what the governor has been doing. There are a lot of people on social media who believe she made the decision to shut down the schools, which simply isn't true. Most of the decisions on schools and in person versus virtual learning are being made at the local level by school boards and superintendents. And that was a deliberate decision of the governor, the health department and the legislature agreeing to all of that she also hasn't shut down Michigan's economy by any means. Yes, she has put severe restrictions on the hospitality industry and restaurants. But those are those are loosening a little bit. gyms are open now. And virtually every business is free to open. They just have some restrictions on how they have to operate. So that's a long ways from shutting down the economy yet that's the story on a lot of the social media for these groups. Like you know, on Facebook, there's an impeach Gretchen Whitmer site, and there's a sole john James site, although he's also already in the rearview mirror, and a few others where they just railed against everything that she hasn't done, as well as things that she has done. So it's a real problem. You want to move on.
Christine Barry 24:11
I think it's time.
Walt Sorg 24:12
Okay, let's move on. Let's talk about something that we've been debating since November. And that is the election. Well, the numbers are getting wrapped up. Secretary of State Johnson Benson has just wrapped up a massive audit of election results around the state. And what they do basically is take a lot of precincts around the state at random and have the local clerks, Republicans, Democrats and independents, audit those results with hand recounts of the precincts and match them against what the machines reported on election day.
Jocelyn Benson 24:43
And what they found in each and every one of them more than 250 audits they conducted is that Michigan's election was the most secure in our state's history and the results accurately reflect the will of the voters. This finding eradicates any rationale for continuing to question the integrity of the election and the validity of the outcome.
Walt Sorg 25:06
And what they found to that there were some very minor differences in vote totals, you had some out of balance precincts where the number of ballots cast did not exactly match the number of ballots recorded as being cast. But the differences were really miniscule.
Jocelyn Benson 25:22
out of balance precincts simply do not merit the criticism that has been heaped on them by officials seeking to undermine faith in the elections of some of our most populous cities. These efforts are dangerous, racist, and undertaken for personal and political gain. They are also completely meritless, as proven by these audits, and must be treated as such in the future. No leader or person of power, elected or otherwise, should have ever played political games with the integrity of our elections. But those who did must stop now.
Christine Barry 25:59
Aaand then there's this guy and his complaints about Detroit election
Donald Trump 26:03
You know we have a little problem adjusting in Detroit, we seem to have more votes. So we have people a lot more votes and election changing number, we're not talking about a number where you catch now these are election changing numbers.
Jocelyn Benson 26:16
The lie that people voted has long been debunked, debunked long before any state legislators recently said it corks rejected the absentee ballots of 1000s of voters who cast them while alive and died before election day. And so, so we hope that similarly legislative leaders that have wrongly tried to spread that misinformation in recent weeks, will again, start doing so look at the truth and affirm that these results of the elections were accurate to all of their constituents.
Christine Barry 26:48
And that's the end of that story. We would hope. But in political reality, Republicans are using these lies about election fraud, including the false stories about Detroit, as a nationwide effort to make it harder to vote,
Donald Trump 27:02
this election was rigged. And the Supreme Court and other courts didn't want to do anything about it.
Christine Barry 27:11
Their voter suppression laws, bills, I should say, going through state houses state senate all across the country. You know what? Well, these are really, really racist bills.
Walt Sorg 27:21
I found it amazing that in a supreme court hearing on the voting rights case coming out of Arizona, a Republican attorney, representing the Republican Party said out loud, that the reason they didn't want the court to rule in one direction was it would make it harder for Republicans to win elections. That should not be the basis for election laws. election law should be based on the idea that everybody, every citizen has the right to vote, and the government shouldn't get in the way of that right to vote. But republicans are arguing very openly that we want to get in the way of that right to vote. Because if we don't do that, we're going to lose elections. And that's the philosophy behind the Voting Rights Act and the protect of the people act that just passed the House of Representatives and is now in the Senate. The problem in the Senate is they got to figure out a way to get to pass mitch mcconnell Republicans hate this bill, they are already lying about it, saying that it's going to cause all sorts of election fraud using as their excuse. The election fraud they allege happened last November. That didn't happen. But they don't really care about that. They've got their stories they've been with the help of Donald Trump have been propagating them for months and months and months. So that's the excuse for making it harder for people, mostly people of color, and for young people to vote, this is finally going to be what kills the filibuster in the Senate. Because the only way they're going to get through this bill through the Senate in the next two years is to get rid of the filibuster and do it on a party line vote. Republicans to a person do not want to change the laws in favor of making it easier to vote because they know that could be the death knell for the Republican Party in many states, and possibly keep them out of the White House for a long time. I find it absolutely reprehensible what they're doing. And I just thank heavens that in Michigan, we amended our constitution to make it very hard for voter suppression to take place in the state.
Christine Barry 29:14
It's interesting that these things are being said out loud. We have had times in the past when people have said the quiet things out loud, like we have to suppress the Detroit vote or we're never going to win anything or something like that. That was an accident. But decades ago, people were talking about how we never want to see the electoral college go away a racist construct. If there ever was one Electoral College, we never want to see it go away. because more people both vote, the less likely we are to win. Trump and this whole sense of entitlement with these white nationalists, if you will, and what McConnell has done to the courts, people feel emboldened, they feel entitled to say that We're not going to make it easier for you equal person to vote as it is for me. It's reprehensible as you save, it's also so stunning. It's unbelievable that we got this far.
Walt Sorg 30:13
And they keep saying the mail in voting is open to fraud. And anything is open to fraud if people try hard enough that they can find ways to fraud, but it's incredibly difficult to organize mass voter fraud is gonna impact the outcome of an election, they have been doing nothing but vote by mail in five states out west now for several election cycles. And there are absolutely no reports of widespread voter fraud in Colorado or Washington or Utah, or why California is now implementing an all mail-in process. And it works. It simply works. And when it's fully implemented, it also saves money. Because you don't have to have as many polling places, you have a longer time for voters to cast an informed vote because they've got their ballots sitting on their dining room table. And if they've got a question about a candidate or a question about a ballot proposal that's on that ballot, they can get online, or they can talk to their friends and get more information about whatever it is they're they need more information about so that they're not making snap decisions based based on some prejudice when they walk into the voting booth. It is all about power and maintaining power and quite honestly destroying the concept of representative democracy. They don't want a representative democracy, they want an oligarchy, or at least a situation where it's mostly white people. We know the country started, when only white male landowners were allowed to vote if you're a woman, or you were a person of color. And certainly if you were a slave, you had no vote. We've evolved from that. They say, well, let's go back what the founders intended. The founders intended for this to be an autocracy, where the rich people basically called all the shots you didn't have direct election at the United States Senate. You didn't have women voting you didn't have we had slavery in half the country. So it's we've come a long way from there. But now they're trying to kind of go backwards and move back towards that system. And I just find that horrible.
Christine Barry 32:10
Yeah, and I don't want to carry this on too much longer. I get off on a tangent. But I feel like I might be the only one in the country who just doesn't care what the founders intended. I appreciate the Constitution. But they did make it possible to change because they knew that the people may want to change direction in this country. Why do I care what the founders intended. Now, the founders never envisioned a world like this.
Walt Sorg 32:36
Well, it's all go around and powdered wigs again,
Christine Barry 32:38
I saw a discussion on LinkedIn the other day, Chad Livengood had this great, this great article out a week or two ago about term limits, and Lee Chatfield. And somebody mentioned that those of us who support term limits envision these gentlemen going to serve their state or their community, whatever, and then coming home after a short period of time, and return to their farm or their place of business, and work under the laws that they passed. I refer you to George Washington, and Tom Jefferson, and all this kind of stuff. And I thought it's a romanticized view of something that doesn't apply right now. That's just that's kind of where that's coming from. I just, you know, set aside what the founders intended, set aside what they did. And, you know, take a look at the world that you live in right now. And that's far more relevant to what we're dealing with.
Walt Sorg 33:32
Yeah you got the two sides. You've got the originalist who say, ever we got to go exactly with original intent, which I to find ridiculous. And we've got those, like you and me who think that the constitution was designed to be a living, breathing document that adjusts itself as circumstances change. I really don't think that Thomas Jefferson envisioned the iPhone. I don't think he envisioned the internet.
Christine Barry 33:55
What would the founders think of our podcast?
Walt Sorg 33:58
Yeah, hello. we're kind of like the printing press of the 21st century. Another area that has evolved tremendously in government hasn't evolved enough is the inability of Michigan State government to provide accountability and openness to the public. A petition drive has been announced to deal with one aspect of that failing, the petition would open up all government records in the legislature and governor's office to the public. By repealing loopholes in the Freedom of Information Act. The petition drive will be spearheaded by the liberal activist group progress Michigan, Sam Inglot. From Progress Michigan. Thanks for joining us on the Policast the petition drive you're launching on ethics, it seems to be in parallel with some of the efforts that are underway in the legislature right now, especially some of those being led by the Speaker of the House. But yours goes a lot further. What are some of the things that's going to cover?
Sam Inglot 34:52
I think it's important to frame this conversation right and why we're doing this. So Michigan has some of the worst ethics and transparency rankings in the entire country. And at least a piece of that puzzle is the fact that Michigan is only one of two states where the governor and the legislature are exempt from FOIA.
Walt Sorg 35:10
Now, that's the Freedom of Information Act,
Sam Inglot 35:12
correct the Freedom of Information Act, which is you know, how the public how the media get access to communications and documents that relate to government and public policy. People want transparent and accountable government, we want to make sure that government is truly of, by, and for the people and not being done, you know, just on behalf of, you know, the lobbyists with the most money in their pockets or the, you know, the corporate interests that bankroll campaigns. And the reason that we decided to launch this ballot initiative is because we're sort of tired of the same song and dance that we hear in the legislature, it seems on a regular basis. You know, what's happening right now in the legislature as a relates to FOIA isn't all that different from what we've seen in the past, typically, what happens is a FOIA bill of expansion gets brought up, it passes the house with flying colors, and then it goes to the republican controlled Senate to die. And so it allows all these lawmakers to you know, pad their resumes with look at this thing I voted on with the, it seems almost the the knowledge that it will never actually go anywhere. And so we're saying, Okay, enough of those games, we're going to just take this directly to the people, and we're going to have them vote on it. And we think there will be, you know, just an outpouring of public support for this effort. Because inherently people want transparent and accountable government,
Walt Sorg 36:33
getting the signatures for a petition drive is a monumental process that requires nearly a half million signatures, just for statutory initiative, what are the plans in terms of timing? And also, are you partnering up with any organizations to get those signatures?
Sam Inglot 36:49
Yeah, we're definitely gonna have some some some partners along for this effort. You know, the beauty of this wall is that we really, we have time to build this thing up. Our plan is to get this on the November 2022 ballot, which gives us a lot of time to talk to the community, educate the public around the issue, really build a solid campaign. And then when at times, comes time to collect signatures, get that piece done, you're right, that is a, it's a tough effort there, right getting, you know, over 340,000 signatures, which is what we would need to get this on the ballot is no small task, based on the public support that we see, based on the fact that this issue continually gets brought up and doesn't go anywhere, that there will be an appetite for it. And while we don't have any specific timelines yet, on when we will start the signature gathering process, we have a lot of time between now in 2022, to get this thing done,
Walt Sorg 37:44
in addition to needing a lot of signatures and hopefully help from a lot of volunteers. Any petition drive requires a substantial amount of money as well, do you have funding commitments for this proposal,
Sam Inglot 37:54
that's something that we're that we're that we're working on, you know, we have roughly, you know, less than two years to make this thing work. And, you know, it's, it's, uh, you need money to, you know, help get the signatures and sort of build the campaign infrastructure. And then you also need, you know, resources to tell people about it, right. And those are things that we'll be working on and building in conjunction with our partners over the coming months, our plan is to roll out the actual language of the petition itself, during sunshine week, which is a you know, kind of a national pseudo holiday where government transparency is talked about and pushed to our during the week of March 14, and 20th. So within the next two weeks, we'll have some finalized language to present to the public. And from there, we start building this thing and get ready to sail for 2022. There are a lot of good government reforms that are needed to really improve Michigan's score when it comes to sunshine and government.
Walt Sorg 38:51
Why did you decide to take on this piece of the effort first written with information, as opposed to they do ethics reform or public funding of campaigns and those sorts of things?
Sam Inglot 39:00
Sure. So I've got I've got two pieces to that answer. I'll start with the first one. So you know, since I've been with Progress Michigan, which is coming up on eight years now, FOIA reform has been something that has really been a key issue of ours, something that we've talked about a lot, something that we have, you know, supported previous efforts on legislatively, and, frankly, a tool of government accountability that we have used to great effect. You're right. As I mentioned, you know, it's one piece of the puzzle, but we think access to information is key to finding out how government is working and how our elected officials may not be working on behalf of the people. You know, it was through the Freedom of Information Act that Progress Michigan, discovered, you know, a litany of issues with the prison privatized prison food contract under the Snyder administration, when they were finding maggots in the food. There was you know, drug dealing and, you know, sex with inmates and things like that going on because of this privatized food contract that was something that we discovered through FOIA At the same time, when the Flint water crisis happened, we were able to obtain documents showing that while the Snyder administration was telling people in Flint, oh, the water is safe to drink, it's fine, they were secretly shipping in bottled water to stick buildings and stay employees in Flint. So it really just kind of opens the door to the, you know, different levers and pulleys and buttons of government that make all these public services go and gives, you know, watchdogs, the public and constituents and the media, an opportunity to see how things are going to look for problems to you know, again, it is supposed to be government of by and for the people, this is public information that belongs to us. So we should be able to look at it and assess how are things going. So that's kind of one piece. And where, you know, we've seen the power of the Freedom of Information Act in having more transparent and accountable government, exposing some of the problems and just kind of, you know, taking a peek under the hood and seeing how things are going. At the same time. Another thing that I believe we've talked about before, that we're looking to start up again, this year is our lobbying reform ballot initiative. That is something that, you know, we haven't got blasted out in a press release or anything like that just yet. But when COVID hit that, really to kind of sidelined our lobbying reform initiative, and we're, we're fully planning on picking that up and running with it for 2022, as well. So we think between transparency and state government and transparency in kind of the lobbying culture of state government, that can go a long way in, you know, moving Michigan up from the bottom of the barrel, as far as ethics and transparency goes, and restore and rebuild some trust and confidence in our public institutions.
Walt Sorg 41:40
As you said, you are going to be seeking out some partners in terms of organizations, is there a role for individuals who might want to get involved? And if so, how do they do it?
Sam Inglot 41:48
Yeah, I would say, you can go to www.closelansingloopholes.com and sign up for our email list there. We'll also be having, you know, like a text program and things like that coming out soon. Like I said, this is something that we are building that we are we want in really broad support on to make this thing happen. And I would say you can check out progress. michigan.org Follow us on social media. We'll be inundating folks with this information there. And if you're interested in seeing some of the work that already went into the lobbying reform proposal, you can check out www.closelansingloopholes.com,
Walt Sorg 42:21
Sam, you know, it's it's amazing, but I've been following this issue in the legislature on and off for nearly 50 years. And it seems like it never comes to fruition. Good luck in making it happen.
Sam Inglot 42:33
Thanks. Well appreciate it.
Walt Sorg 42:35
Sam Inglot from Progress Michigan.
Christine Barry 42:41
Well, it's time for some quick political notes leading off another maga opponent for a freshman congressman peter Meyer of Grand Rapids. And this is a MAGA that who is very serious about her Trump love. It's so gross. Walt, I can't take it. This is Audra Johnson of Kent County. She picked up the name maga bride after her Trump themed wedding where she wore a maga dress and everyone had to wear Trump hats and whatever else maga people do at a freaky Trump's themed wedding.
Walt Sorg 43:11
Oh that's gonna look good on our website, those pictures.
Christine Barry 43:14
But she's also one of the three women who had to be forcibly removed from the Capitol building in Lansing because it was close to the public that day. And she went all Karen on them saying that she was assaulted for trying to exert her constitutional rights. So that plus the mogga dress that she wore to her wedding qualifies her for Congress in the Trump party of treason. She has announced her intention to run but she has not yet filed with the FEC. And she joins Tom Norton who announced his intention certainly after Peter Meyers impeachment vote in the primary, but there will be new congressional districts by the time she runs or he runs again so who knows what's gonna happen?
Walt Sorg 43:55
Speaking of maga republicans there is a new potential Republican opponent for Gretchen Whitmer. On the scene, it is multimillionaire Lena Epstein. She ran for an open US House seat in suburban Detroit in 2018. She lost a Haley Stevens in that election. She co owns Vesco Oil Corporation, which makes her very, very wealthy and she's registered her committee she hasn't officially announced yet. It props out to David Eggert from the Associated Press who uncovered this on Twitter. Very interesting for her I talked with a former republican now an independent friend of mine who said yep, she's another maga nut. And if she runs against Whitmer, Gretchen should coast to reelection.
Christine Barry 44:37
Well, fingers crossed then. Good news for state senate majority leader Mike Shirkey
Walt Sorg 44:44
I know that makes you happy.
Christine Barry 44:46
The man who is holding up federal funds for COVID relief still somehow has managed to cash in personally on federal aid. Now Shirkey is the founder and owner of orbit form, which is manufacturing place in Jackson. Makes custom parts and pieces and widgets and whatnot. And orbit form just received $1.7 million loan in federal assistance. This is the company's second loan from the federal paycheck protection program. They received 1.8 million last April. And Shirkey is one of the leaders of the obstruction of everything. Our federal aid, you know, money is stuck in the legislature. He's obstructing that the governor's pandemic prevention efforts. Yep, obstructs that he even obstructs the acceptance of the election. Sure, he's just obstructing everything. And I'm sure that Shirkey didn't have much of anything to do with orbit form getting the assistance. But he is a beneficiary of the financial and operational wellness of that company, if his company is receiving pandemic related financial assistance while he's obstructing that for others. It's the hypocrisy that we're dealing with here.
Walt Sorg 45:55
Yeah, well, in the federal funds are good for me not for you as as basic attitude apparently, as long as Gretchen Whitmer is in my way of getting what I want. Some news from the swamp that is Washington, DC. Congressman Tim Walberg of Michigan is openly threatening his corporate donors with official retaliation, if they decide against giving him campaign money, because of his role to overturn the results of the presidential election. And he's saying it out loud.
Mike Shirkey 46:25
Because of our votes, there are corporations Dow Chemical, Blue Cross Blue Shield horizon, Consumers Energy is considering it right now. And I represent Consumers Energy And oh, by the way, I sit on the most powerful committee in the US House, the oldest standing committee and Congress, Energy and Commerce Committee, I sit on the energy subcommittee, which has a lot to say about Consumers Energy and DTE. And I love them, I want them to succeed. I want them to do the right thing. But they are going to cancel me for many packs support because of my vote. Now, I hope they change their mind. But it's also it's also going over to other sectors. Whether it's the Detroit Chamber of Commerce that is considering canceling me now. And jack Bergman and Lisa McLean or whether it's Dow Chemical that's camp cancelled me already from receiving any type of Pac support, even though you know, I sit on the probably most meaningful committee relative to them. And look at issues relative to Energy and Commerce.
Walt Sorg 47:31
Pardon my French, but how fucking obvious can you get? That is outright extortion?
Christine Barry 47:38
Well, he's in the minority. Now he can threaten them all he wants, he'll probably be even less relevant when he's up for reelection again. But you don't hear him going on the radio and saying, you know, I have constituents who are upset with my vote, they're going to cancel me even though I represent all of my constituents. He's not concerned about that. He's concerned about his pac money. And if I was one of the ones who was withholding pac money from him, because he contributed to this obscene narrative that our elections were rigged, then I would definitely dig in on this because I'm not going to be threatened by anybody.
Walt Sorg 48:19
Get my buddy. The irony is he could be canceled by the new district maps as Michigan loses one member of Congress. He could be the person who gets who's the odd person out in this game of musical chairs. We're going from 14 members to 13 members talk more about redistricting in just a second, though. There's another issue first, though, dealing with Washington, that's actually something positive about one of our elected officials.
Christine Barry 48:42
Yes, Senator Gary Peters. Now his first term was defined by working behind the scenes. Now as chair of the Homeland Security Committee. He's leading an investigation that has the potential to unearth a major scandal where the Benedict Arnold, Major General William J. Walker, commanding general of the DC national guard said he was ready to go with troops to help on January 6, but the Pentagon did not approve the deployment. There were communication and decision making breakdowns that created a three hour and 20 minute delay to deployment. So while you and I and the rest of the world were watching the Capitol Building get its ass kicked by these domestic terrorists. The Keystone cops over there were scratching their heads about what to do. It wasn't all on the National Guard or the Pentagon there are breakdowns with the Capitol Police too. But overall, this was unnecessary. And the hearings. They are looking into why this happened, what systems need to be fixed. And is there anyone who has culpability here and I think it's that last one that's really politically charged.
Walt Sorg 49:48
You know, the general made it very clear that the reason he didn't go in is because he was given a very unusual order that he couldn't do anything until he got sign off from both Secretary of Defense and the secretary. The army and he said that's very unusual a circumstance like this. He didn't have that kind of restriction last summer when it was a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Washington, DC, but he did this time. And what changed at the Pentagon was just before all of this happened in December, the White House wiped out the top civilian leadership of the Pentagon and replace them all with a bunch of magas people who weren't necessarily qualified for the jobs other than they were loyalists of Donald Trump. And to me, the issue becomes, did the Trump administration, beginning with the president, specifically tell their people slow walk and he helped For this demonstration, because we want it to get out of hand and we want to send Congress a message before we send in the cavalry to get order restored on the Capitol. And the general made it very clear once the troops went in from the National Guard, they had things under control in a matter of minutes. Had they gone in earlier, a lot of destruction and a lot of the threat would have gone away. But the President who was watching this on television, his secretary of defense who had to be watching it on television, and the Secretary of Army who had to be watching it on television, as well as one of the key deputies in the process was Mike Flynn's brother, Mike Flynn, the trader who was pardoned by the president, after being convicted of multiple counts of basically selling out his country for cash. The whole thing to me really use the term Benedict Arnold in leading into this discussion. I think it's totally appropriate.
Christine Barry 51:28
Yeah, and I don't even know exactly if there was a specific intention. But we know we were watching it at the end of last year well as these as the personnel at the Pentagon and the all these people were being swapped out for people who weren't really, you know, the most qualified, they didn't improve anything. And they weren't making improvements in any way. They were just being rotated in, and other people were being rotated out. And we all saw it. We all knew they were loyalists. And we were like, what is happening? Something big is going to happen? Why is this happening? And whether this was what was envisioned or something else? We don't know. But even even more than this, there were conversations about the optics of having the National Guard, use these tactics or these other tactics or whatever. And to a certain extent, I understand you don't want to have another situation where you have, say, the helicopters, helicopters were used for crowd control when the peaceful BLM riots were happening. And they had two military helicopters out there, and they lowered to a height that actually just versus the crowd, because it's, uh, you know, you can't stand under these helicopters when they, you know, the
Walt Sorg 52:46
propwash is just killer.
Christine Barry 52:48
Yeah, yeah, that's, that's it. And so, you know, I can understand saying we don't want to have that kind of overreaction to peaceful protests. But this was even messed up in terms of what when they were when the National Guard was first deployed, where they were deployed to what they were allowed to do. And then of course, like I said, the optics thing kind of comes into play in terms of what they could carry and how they could respond. And I even think that, you know, like you mentioned, once the guard got there saying settle down, well, it still took a couple of hours. And I don't think it would have taken that long if they hadn't been so rested and had such a narrow scope,
Walt Sorg 53:28
given the joy that apparently Donald Trump had over the entire demonstration reports from the White House that he was really he was rooting on the demonstration. I think it goes right to the top. But then again, I've always been a little suspicious of the con man who was president for four years. At the state levels, news from our citizens Independent Redistricting Commission, a couple of things. First of all, the panel is going to ask the state Supreme Court to basically let it deal with reality rather than what's in the Constitution. The Constitutional amendment requires that they have their maps submitted to the people for comment no later than the middle of September, yet the census data won't be available until the end of September. Thus, it is impossible for them to do that. So they're going to petition the Supreme Court to basically say, hey, nobody anticipated this. And we've got to deal with the reality of what it is give us a bit of give us a delay, give us your stamp of approval on that. If the supreme court does that, I think it sets the stage for a federal lawsuit down the road against the maps. The other thing they have done is they picked a company that's going to provide technical assistance in drawing the maps and there's some controversy over that only eight of the 13 commissioners voted in favor of the company, which is headed by a guy who has been referred to as the Picasso of gerrymandering. I personally think they did the right thing because the people that helped them draw the maps the technical experts, no matter how biased they are, if they come up with a map that is rigged for one party or the other, the public hearing requirements and the openness of the process. guarantees that the Commission will be made aware of the fact that they have been had by their contractor. And it puts pressure on the contractor to actually do a fair and honest job. Now this contractor has gone out and hired three people to lead up the project, one independent, one republican and one Democrat, which is the way it really needs to be done. And when you're hiring a technocrat, basically, you're paying them to provide you with expertise, and you tell them the direction you want them to go. So I think that they made the right decision, even though it was very controversial. Most of the Democrats, I think it was three of the four Democrats on the commission opposed it. But I support the Commission's decision to bring in this particular consultant, I hope it works out well. It's like I said, it's a work in progress. When we wrote the constitutional amendment, we knew the first round of redistricting was going to be a really interesting process to see if what we wrote actually works. And this is just another step in that process.
Christine Barry 56:00
Yeah, and I look at this, I don't know, one, you know, redistricting or electoral map drawing company from another, but I look at they're all person.
Walt Sorg 56:11
They're all partisan. You can't find the nonpartisan redistricting company. They don't exist.
Christine Barry 56:16
Well, I but I assume that there is some technical expertise that has to go into it. And that expertise is not, you know, big in supply. Like it's it. I don't think that there are that many companies that do it. If I'm wrong, that's okay. But it struck me as the old COVID tracing program a while ago, there was company in place that could do it. They picked it and then all of a sudden, oh, no, they have ties to Democrats, we have to cancel it. So that's kind of how this struck me. But here's a story that makes us feel good. Well, a call for beefing up civics education in public schools. And this is a project that actually started two years ago. It's a group of historians, teachers and other leaders in education, who are looking at how we can improve the teaching of social studies, history and civics and get that kind of curriculum into the classroom. Over the next 10 years. This is educating for American democracy. That's the name of the group. The report that they released last week argues that students do not need a laundry list of facts, but a process that produces a better understanding of how the country's history shapes its presence. It reminds me of sitting around in college talking to my friends about what you know, different majors, and what do you actually get out of college, you learn to think you learn to process, that kind of thing. I'm not saying kids are not learning to think in school. But I think it is true that history is more than just dates and chronological order of things, you have to understand it. And Parkland in the school is actually a really good example of what happens when you have an excellent civics program and debate program and so on. When those kids were traumatized with that shooting, what did they do, they were able to come out and organize and speak for themselves, but are partially it's because it's a bit School District, it's, you know, a little bit privileged in terms of, you know, the money around it. But it's also because those kids were taught how to do that.
Walt Sorg 58:25
I think it's really important. I've run for public office a couple of times, I lost both times. But during the process of going door to door and talking with people that I hoped would vote for me, I was absolutely appalled by the lack of understanding of how government works, and what the responsibilities are of government at different levels. Whether it's the county commission, or the state legislature, or the federal government, people just kind of all blended together in their minds. And not because they're stupid, it's because they haven't been provided the education, on just how our very complex system of self government works. And I think that allows people to be manipulated by the demagogues witness, the person who said in the Oval Office for four years, he lied and lied, and lied and lied. And most people didn't have the background information and the knowledge to understand that he was lying. And so they took him at face value, in part because they wanted to believe what he was saying. But also because they just weren't capable of evaluating what he was saying. And to me, that is the the ultimate downfall of our democracy. We need a better educated electorate, they need to know how the system works, or it's gonna fall
Christine Barry 59:32
well. And don't forget about the special interests that are out there providing quote, unquote, educational programs as like a tax free thing. And I forget what law that allows that but now, if you're hungry for more information about the government, you can get a free class in the Constitution. It's nonpartisan, holding up my fingers for air quotes. And what it is is,
Walt Sorg 59:56
you know, put a screengrab of that on the website.
Christine Barry 1:00:01
Yeah, you know, it's it's or even Hillsdale College gives out free lessons in the constitution and government. I don't want Hillsdale College that teach people how government works, because that is based on a conservative viewpoint of how government should work. So, anyway, yeah, we'll have some links in the show notes and hopefully not a picture of me.
Walt Sorg 1:00:41
Before we close this week, a personal note, Michigan lost one of its giants on Friday, Frank Kelly, who served 37 years as Michigan's Attorney General passed away at the age of 96. Mr. Kelly was appointed attorney general in 1961 by Governor john Swenson, and went on to serve side by side with for more Michigan governors, George Romney, Bill Milligan, Jim Blanchard and john Engler. He was both the youngest and oldest Attorney General in Michigan history. He holds the national record for consecutive years as a state attorney general. You can read about his record of public service. There are many, many stories everywhere and many of them linked on our website. I want to take a moment to talk about the personal side of Frank Kelly. He and I met way back in 1968. I was a very young radio reporter, and my first big name interview was with Michigan's Attorney General. Over the years, our professional relationship grew into a strong friendship. When I left journalism for a career as a consultant, he hired me to help with his final reelection campaign. He really didn't need my help, but he knew my business needed a client. Mr. Kelly was a great storyteller always coming up with a new yarn regarding the many people he had known in his long political career and in his personal life. One of his college roommates was legendary TV star Steve Allen, the original host of NBC his Tonight Show, Kelly actually inspired Alan to write a song or at least that's the way Frank told it. One Sunday morning Kelly was headed out the door Alan asked him where he was going. Kelly responded that he was going to church, Alan at about atheist decided to stay in their room. While Kelly was gone. Allen wrote what years later became a major hit recording.
Let's go to church next Sunday morning.
Walt Sorg 1:02:51
That song inspired by Frank Kelly became a charted for the duo of Jimmy Wakely and Margaret Whiting, hitting number 13 on the pop charts and number two in the country charts in 1950. At least that's the way Frank Telly told the story. Mr. Kelly had many showbiz friends over the years, none of them closer to him than legendary comedian Jimmy Durante.
Frank Kelley 1:03:12
I had offices in Detroit, of course, and I'd have to go down there about once a week or once every 10 days and say a couple of days. And when I went to Detroit, I always stayed at the lookout like or Sheraton Cadillac hotel. And I always ate at the table where the manager the hotel ate, while and he would say, by the way, Frank, so and so's in the house tonight. He always refer to the hotel as the house. And when it comes down for breakfast, or she I'll introduce you. Well among the people came down for breakfast one day was Jimmy duranie. And he introduced me to Jimmy Irani and during Rana asked me to sit with him. And believe it or not, celebrities, many of them are fascinated by people who have political titles and wonder why you think that I'd want to I would be fascinated by the star quality of Jimmy Irani and most the time you meet these people, and they want to talk about politics. Did you know song salted? Did you ever meet john kennedy, etc, etc. And I talked politics with him and or I should say he talked politics. I mean, I talk show business with him. He came to Detroit, maybe twice a year to play at the Elmwood. Every time he came, he called my office and insist as I bring my family over to the home with to see his show, which I would do and we became friends and one time I needed him I called him and Hollywood. And he picked up his his troop in Las Vegas and came to Detroit to the old Latin Quarter and a Boulevard order and he raised $75,000 for me and one night for a fundraiser.
Walt Sorg 1:04:42
He made his mark as attorney general where he basically wrote the rules for the job. That was the result of the change in governors a year after he took office. democrat john Swenson was defeated by a republican George Romney.
Frank Kelley 1:04:55
It was quite tense for a while and because Governor Romney He came from business. He was president of American Motors. He had the impression that an attorney general was just like a corporate attorney, he would push a button and I was supposed to come in his office and do his bidding. Well, it didn't work out that way. And for years, so when you came on the scene and the 60s there, we didn't get along that well, and took a while for us to realize what our respective duties were. And finally, one day after a long argument, I came into his office, and it was the day after the election, which we had both one big, big, big, big splitting state in United States. people voted for Governor Romney and and they also want to leave Virginia. So I wonder was off as a couple days later, and he was sitting in isagen over governor, the people I would only want us to serve together. Maybe we should try to get along a little better. And they said, Frank, you're absolutely right. So I had my deputy attorney general Leon Cohen, and he had his deputy. And they negotiated a peace treaty. In other words, what were the duties of the governor? And what were the duties of the Attorney General? After a month's work on that? I wanted the Governor Romney's office on we signed the what was known as the Treaty of Lansing. And after that, Governor Romney, I got along very well, I must say that all the numbers I worked with were men of integrity. I didn't always agree with them politically, but they all had the sense of what they were doing. They were doing right. And every one of them was, was an honest person and had the best interests of the state. At heart Even though their solutions didn't always agree with mine.
Walt Sorg 1:06:28
Frank Kelley was renowned for his loyalty to his many, many, many friends who had the same personal assistant Pat Anderson for more than 40 years of professional relationship and friendship that continued for the rest of his life. Literally, dozens, if not hundreds, were also the recipients of that loyalty. I'm very thankful to have been one of them. Frank Kelly was 96 years old. Rest in peace, my friend.
Christine Barry 1:07:15
That's it for this week's Policast for more information on today's topics, might I suggest our website, Michigan Policast comm you'll find links, tweets, videos, maybe some means, and this week, we'll have our favorite pasty recipe as well as a little bit of the history of the past. Very interesting.
Walt Sorg 1:07:35
Oh, I love it. I can't wait to see that. As always we welcome your comments. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment via our Facebook page or Twitter. And make sure you check out the new podcast to Republic if you can keep it with longtime Michigan political insiders Jeff Timmer and Mark Brewer. You can find it on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, tune in and I Heart Radio, and you can find a link to it as well on our website. We'll be back in a week. See ya.
Michigan Policast with Walt Sorg and Christine Barry is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.