| Michigan Policast for Monday, April 12, 2021
- Segment one: COVID-19 updates: cases, hospitalizations, and vaccines
- Segment two: Voter suppression
- Segment three: Connie Cook and Sandy Sorini-Elser of VNP on redistricting and Communities of Interest
- Segment four: Political notes
- Members of Congress urge White House to surge vaccines to Michigan
- Whitmer asks diners not to eat indoors at restaurants for 2 weeks
- UM isn’t only Michigan hospital system canceling procedures over COVID
- Michigan lawmakers seek to win over skeptics in race to vaccinate
- States delay ordering all the vaccine doses available to them despite outbreaks – The Washington Post
- Michigan gears up for the next COVID-19 fight: vaccine passports | Bridge Michigan
- Detroit’s Covid-19 Vaccination Efforts Lag Behind as Infections Surge Again in Michigan – WSJ
- Bridge Michigan coronavirus dashboard
- As COVID spread, far fewer Michigan high school grads enrolled in college | Bridge Michigan
- Politico Poll – Future of schooling post-covid
- Workers weary, patients angry, as COVID fills Michigan hospitals — again | Bridge Michigan
- State lawmakers seek long-term limit on governors’ emergency power
- Maps: How a coronavirus variant tore through Michigan
- New CDC Guidance Paves The Way For Hawaii To Implement ‘Vaccine Passports’
LG Gilchrist on why Michigan isn't enacting new restrictions to combat COVID surge. “We can vaccinate our way out of this pandemic… and that's core to our strategy going forward.” Via @CNN
— Jonathan Oosting (@jonathanoosting) April 11, 2021
“I am going to also continue fighting for my state and anyone who's watched what's going on in Michigan over the last year knows that's how I am. I'm going to fight to get everything I can for the help of the people in Michigan.” https://t.co/GxDP7KWjCm
— Zack Pohl (@ZackPohl) April 11, 2021
This feels like a good time to remind you that as Gov. @GretchenWhitmer fights for a surge in #COVID19 vaccines, the @MIGOP is actively trying to strip her of her emergency powers.https://t.co/Xqxkq61a4R
— Michigan Democrats (@MichiganDems) April 11, 2021
MI is struggling with a surge in COVID infections. On #InsidePoliticsSunday @LtGovGilchrist pleaded w/ Biden admin for a “hot spot strategy” & more vaccines. “Equity means responding differently where there is the most need and right now the most need is in the state of Michigan”
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) April 11, 2021
A vaccine passport—a unified, centralized system for providing or denying access to everyday activities like shopping and dining—would be a nightmare for civil liberties and privacy, and it would exacerbate existing social disparities connected to wealth, privilege, and race.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 31, 2021
— ChristineFerretti_DN (@cferretti_dn) April 12, 2021
- Pressure on Michigan businesses to take a position on GOP voting bills | Bridge Michigan
- Michigan GOP voting plan has much in common with Georgia law. How they compare | Bridge Michigan
- We read all Michigan election reform bills. Many would add hurdles to voting. | Bridge Michigan
- Progressive Legislators Respond to Coordinated Attack on Voting Rights in State Legislatures – State Innovation Exchange
- House Democrats oppose limiting voter access to Michigan elections – housedems.com
- What Michigan clerks think of Senate GOP election bills
- Would GOP bills make certifying Michigan elections harder or fairer?
- Republicans ramp up attacks on corporations like Coca-Cola, Delta and MLB over Georgia voting law – The Washington Post
- Annotated Guide to the For the People Act of 2021 | Brennan Center for Justice
Chiming in as a public official:
Michigan’s election reform bills are a minefield. Stepping back from the fact that they’re not *all* terrible, largely promoting the big lie, and absolutely and completely unnecessary, let’s talk about disparate treatment and disparate impact.
— Luke Londo (@llondo) April 10, 2021
— The Root (@TheRoot) April 2, 2021
In Michigan and across the country, GOP legislators are introducing a tidal wave of voter suppression bills because they don't have any other strategy to win elections.
The For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act are our way to fight back. https://t.co/Rck5Hj1TYz
— Michigan Democrats (@MichiganDems) March 22, 2021
Now is the time for #Michigan organizations, businesses & leaders to stand up & speak out against the @MISenate Voter Suppression proposals! It is also appropriate to refuse contributing to (via CTE, PAC & 501(c)(4), etc) legislators who support undermining our democracy. https://t.co/BzJQL3Ztzg
— BarbByrum (@BarbByrum) April 10, 2021
#HB2569 just passed AZ Senate & is headed to the Governor's desk. It is the first of measures identical to provisions in Georgia's SB202 that are designed to make it harder to vote.
This bill would underfund election administration & diminish the ability to combat misinformation pic.twitter.com/5F3cnJgtGd
— Rep. Athena Salman (@AthenaSalman) April 7, 2021
— Just My Experience (@Just_My_Exp) April 12, 2021
— Jonathan Oosting (@jonathanoosting) April 12, 2021
— Lavora Barnes (@LavoraBarnes) April 12, 2021
- Voters Not Politicians
- Count MI Vote Education Fund
- UM Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy – The Role of Communities of Interest in Michigan's New Approach to Redistricting: Recommendations to the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
- ICRC Meeting Schedule
- Redistricting – Voters Not Politicians
- Michigan redistricting group hires attorney over GOP objections | Bridge Michigan
- Representable – a free, open-source tool for creating maps for Communities of Interest (COI)
- Ford School experts discuss the role of communities of interest in Michigan’s new redistricting process
- ‘Communities of Interest’ and Michigan’s New Redistricting Process (with video)
- Voters Not Politicians, the Fight for Representation in Michigan
After a historically successful election, Michigan Republicans are trying to make it harder to vote.
Our thousands of volunteers across the state are ready to fight back against these anti-voter bills.
— VotersNotPoliticians (@NotPoliticians) April 9, 2021
“We have thousands of volunteers. We are going canvassing district by district to make sure voters know exactly what their elected politicians in Lansing are trying to do,” Wang said.
— VotersNotPoliticians (@NotPoliticians) April 8, 2021
The MI Senate GOP has released a 39 bill package aimed at suppressing the vote in Michigan. What most people don’t know is that they have a plan to surpass a veto by citizen-initiated legislation. https://t.co/Mjb4LhAeiz
— jennifer alberts (@jenalberts_) April 7, 2021
— Representable.org (@Representable_) March 28, 2021
- Biden calls U.S. gun violence an ‘international embarrassment’ as he outlines executive actions – The Washington Post
- Here's What Americans Think About Gun Reform, According to Polls
- Two-thirds back tougher gun laws, but Republican support drops: poll | TheHill
- Data for Progress – Infrastructure
- Ipsos Poll – Late March
- Biden Unveils Plan to Raise Corporate Taxes – The New York Times
- The Morning: Corporate taxes are wealth taxes
- Ghost Guns: What They Are, and Why They Are an Issue Now
- Biden Takes Initial Steps to Address Gun Violence
- Biden takes executive action on stabilizing brace for pistols, citing Boulder shooting
“A ghost gun is manufactured in parts, and can be assembled at the home of an unlicensed buyer. There is no need to pass a background check to obtain the components of a ghost gun. They are sold online as D.I.Y. kits, and typically shipped as “80 percent receivers.” That means the gun is 80 percent complete, and buyers have to assemble the final 20 percent themselves.” ~Source
- AG Nessel Announces Findings in Two In-Custody Death Investigations
- Quarterly Gap in Party Affiliation Largest Since 2012 – Gallup
- How Michigan communities can, and should, spend billions in Biden stimulus | Bridge Michigan
- Michigan MAGA lawmaker ignoring COVID crisis in her district to push Trump conspiracies: report – Raw Story
Liz Cheney on Trump's continued embrace of insurrection: “The former president is using the same language that he knows provoked violence on Jan. 6. As a party, we need to be focused on the future. We need to be focused on embracing the Constitution, not embracing insurrection.” pic.twitter.com/8XMC6PFKJu
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 11, 2021
Heart-healthy cherry recipe – by request
Michigan cherry facts (totally plagiarized from here):
- Michigan produces both tart (perfect for baked goods, entrees, snacks, smoothies, salads, and other recipes) and sweet (for fresh eating) cherries
- Michigan grows 70% of the United States’ supply of tart cherries, ranking first in production
- Michigan is the leading producer in the world for Montmorency tart cherries, known as “America’s Superfruit”
- Michigan produced 201 million pounds of tart cherries in 2018, valued at $280.1 million
- Traverse City, Michigan is home to the annual National Cherry Festival and is the Cherry Capital of the World
Gretchen Whitmer 00:05
There's light at the end of this tunnel. But the recent rise in cases is a reminder that we are still in the tunnel. The only way out is forward. And together, we have all the tools we need. We know what works. We must mask up socially distance, wash our hands, stay home and or second most importantly, get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Walt Sorg 00:30
Michigan continues as the nation's hottest hotspot in the COVID epidemic. But the governor calls for voluntary not mandatory safety measures. I Walt Sorg.
Joe Biden 00:43
they've offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress, but they passed Not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence. Enough prayers, time for some action.
Christine Barry 00:56
The recurring calls for common sense gun safety measures one more time after a trio of mass shootings in a week, but this time accompanied by direct presidential action. I'm Christine Barry.
Walt Sorg 01:07
Also in the pod Attorney General Nessel hands down the results of investigations into deaths of two people who were in police custody, and state lawmakers from across the nation band together to Fight GOP voter suppression as Michigan gears up for a huge fight on that issue. And we'll find out what the hell they mean by communities of interest because the state's redistricting commission prepares for public hearings.
This is Michigan Policast with Walt Sorg in Christine Barry, Michigan politics and policy and the national stories impacting our pleasant peninsulas.
Christine Barry 01:42
Well we start this episode in the same place, we've started all of them for the past 12 months or so and that is with COVID-19. The numbers continue to be bad. Michigan is experiencing another wave of infections. Our rate of increase is the worst in the nation. State Health Director Dr. Joneigh Khaldun,
Joneigh Khaldun 02:00
we are now at 515 cases per million people. That's four times where are we we're in the middle of February. The percent of tests that are positive is now has now increased to 18%. Also four times where we were in the middle of February. We have not seen that high of a positivity rate since our first surge last spring, a year ago. And that's concerning because we are doing many more tests than we were then. And this indicates that there is now a broad community spread.
Christine Barry 02:32
Governor Whitmer decided against further state restrictions despite the soaring numbers, calling instead for Michiganders to be smart.
Gretchen Whitmer 02:40
Our recent rise in cases is a compliance, variance and mobility issue. We know enough about COVID-19 after a year of living with it, that we know what works and what we have to do to reduce cases. We know that policy changes alone won't reduce the spread. So right now I want to speak to every Michigander directly, I want to emphasize, we still have public health rules in place to save lives. Although we've announced summary engagements over the last few months, we still have a massive mandate, there are still limits on indoor social gatherings larger than 25 people. We have mandatory testing requirements for sports. We're making testing easier for spring break travelers with 56 pop ups sites statewide. But as we take a hard look at the data and observe the spread of the variance, we all need to go above and beyond the rules we already have in place. We all have to step up our game for the next two weeks to bring down rising cases. And that's why I'm calling on high schools to voluntarily go remote for two weeks past spring break, calling on youth sports to voluntary suspend games and practices for two weeks. And I'm strongly encouraging all Michiganders, to avoid dining indoors and avoid gathering with friends indoors for two weeks. To be very clear. These are not orders mandates or requirements a year end. We all know what works. And this has to be a team effort.
Walt Sorg 04:08
And the governor called on the feds to change the formula for distribution of vaccines with additional resources going to the hardest hit states beginning with Michigan,
Gretchen Whitmer 04:18
I believe as a number of public health experts that we really should be surging vaccines to states that are experiencing serious outbreaks. I appreciate President Biden's competent leadership and we're grateful to the administration for rapidly increasing vaccination supply nationwide. But we are still in this pandemic and continue to have conversations with public health experts.
Walt Sorg 04:40
But even as she was making that announcement, the White House COVID response coordinator was saying sorry, we're going to do it.
Jeffrey Zients 04:48
Yeah, this pandemic has hit every state in every county hard 1000s of people hundreds of 1000s of people have died and more dying each day. And there are 10s of millions of people across the country in each and every state and county who have not yet been vaccinated, and the fair and equitable way to distribute the vaccine is based on the adult population by state, tribe and territory. That's how it's been done. And we will continue to do so. And you know, that we push out all vaccines as soon as it's available. And we're not even halfway through our vaccination program. So now is not the time to change course, on vaccine allocation. We're going to stick with allocating by state adult population.
Christine Barry 05:37
And you know, I'm sure governor Whitmer is disappointed in hearing that, but I think for eight months, you know, she had to go it alone anyway, without help from Washington. The interesting thing is how governor Whitmer is approaching it now, I think, so she talks specifically about compliance, variance and mobility, non-compliance has been happening here forever.
Walt Sorg 06:02
The policy doesn't matter at this point, really, she can hand down whatever executive order she wants. But it really relies on voluntary compliance. We saw that with the idiot barber in a while so who kept his shop open, the handful of restaurants that refuse to abide by the rules, these and of course, all the people coming back from spring break, that ignored everything about travel rules and cornering into quarantine and getting tested when they got back. Those are compliance issues, and there's no way the state can enforce that. So what's the point in handing down an order that you can't enforce?
Christine Barry 06:36
Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's an old that's an old thing that we're used to is this non-compliance when even the county sheriffs have said they won't enforce anything, what What more could she do? It's, it's crazy. Then we have the new things, which are the variants we have five variants in Michigan that we know about, they account for over 2200 cases. Dr. Khaldun says we probably have more cases than that, that we just don't know about. Because health system is overwhelmed right now and we can't get the data. And then we have the mobility factor, which as a problem is not new people have been engaging with each other during this whole time. That's part of the non compliance, but people are more confident now. vaccinations have reduced fatalities. But generally speaking, Michiganders aren't thinking about the public health system being overwhelmed. And in Detroit, Mayor Duggan said that if the numbers in Detroit continue increasing at the rate that they've been increasing in the next three or four weeks, we'll have gurneys in the hallways, again. You know, I understand the way that vaccines are being distributed, make sense, based on adult population, but you can see that some places there's a community spread bigger than other places, should we not reevaluate based on that?
Walt Sorg 07:49
Absolutely, we should at least take a look at it. But the critical thing in Michigan right now isn't distribution. It is acceptance of the vaccine because we are in a race between getting vaccinations and getting people infected. And also the capacity of the hospitals University of Michigan hospital is one of several now that is canceling or postponing non critical surgeries because they're running out of capacity. And for somebody who needs you know, an organ transplant, for example, that's of concern, somebody who is in need of other types of surgery, you know, maybe they need need implants or something like that, where it can wait but their quality of life is severely diminished because they have to postpone that surgery. I know just in the the local Lansing hospitals, they're getting very full and I know the health care workers here and across the state are getting increasingly frustrated, because they are overworked, overtaxed, overstressed, and they see too many people around them being stupid, or being selfish, or refusing to accept the fact that this is an incredibly dangerous situation. There are still people out there who believe this is all a hoax.
Christine Barry 08:57
It is just hard to believe that this is a political issue at all. I was reading that Tim Walberg got his vaccine. And yet, you know, he encouraged people to get their vaccines, but he said he understand some people don't want one because they are more independent thinkers. And then he went on to remind the independent thinkers, he called on them specifically those of you who don't want to get the vaccine. Want to remind them that Trump took the vaccine too, and Trump is the one who spearheaded operation warp speed and everything. So clearly tying it to that ideology. You know, we also have concerns from populations who have been targeted in the past for experimentation or abuse in this way, or they have less access to health care or whatever. I understand skepticism from certain communities. But the idiocy behind the whole I'm not going to take the vaccine because of politics or liberty or whatever. It's it's too much for me.
Walt Sorg 09:56
It is really an interesting dichotomy out there. a contradiction I know we are very excited in our household, because my wife finally got an appointment to get vaccinated. She's a little bit younger than me, so she couldn't get vaccinated when I did. And for us, that's great news. It's wonderful news. At the same time, we are really eager for kids to be able to get vaccinated, so our grandkids can in fact be protected against this disease. And yet you have other households where the kids will never get vaccinated. And I fear for for those children, I fear for all of us, because the longer this disease is around and being spread, the greater the opportunity for more variants to come up, that can be even more lethal than they are now. We're seeing a huge increase with young people that are being hospitalized and getting ill. Thankfully, it has not led to a substantial increase in the number of deaths of young people. But the fact remains that it can mutate again, because that's the nature of mutations of viruses or anything else, read your Darwin, it's survival of the fittest and then applies to viruses too. And the mutations that are going to survive are the ones that are the most lethal. Those are the ones that ultimately are going to kill the most people are saying now that our death toll by the end of August should be will probably be around 650,000 people, 650,000 people, that's about the population of Detroit, which is just it's an amazing number. The other thing that's really ironic, the legislature's numbers that they put into the bills that the governor is vetoing over reopening restaurants and all of that, if those numbers were in effect, and we're state law right now, all the restaurants would be locked down again, because our infection rates are higher than the criteria set in the bill. It's a classic example of how you can't legislate emergency situations, because situations change from day to day, week to week. And just by the nature of the legislative process, it takes many weeks to pass a bill to respond to a situation that requires a response maybe within days, not just weeks.
Christine Barry 11:55
Yeah, exactly. It's just another case where if that bill is successful, they'd be you know, philosophically or ideologically opposed to their own bill. Let's talk about this a little bit more. The Republicans in the legislature have said over and over again, at least the leadership, which is where you hear the most noise you hear the most from Shirkey and Wentworth and yeah, they've said over and over and over again, that this is all about common sense. We can trust Michiganders, and it isn't just the legislature it's it's also the Michigan Chamber of Commerce who has a bigger voice than they should rich Studley out there talking out and on businesses and people can be trusted to do the right thing. Well, here we are, again in another wave. And what's your response now to businesses who don't comply? What What's your response going to be to people who don't comply with the minor public health restrictions? And I don't think the Chamber of Commerce is responsible for any compliance. They're responsible for advocacy and resources or whatever. But look, we have what was at idiots Bistro that the woman who was arrested a pizza parlor only not complying with public health. Nobody said anything about that. Nobody spoke out about that except for people like us. The leader of the Republican Party actually walked into the jail with bail money for her. This is not a common sense issue. We can't trust Michiganders if they're following people like like if these guys are Michiganders, these are certainly not who we can trust to make the right decisions. Karl Manke, of all people, typhoid Manke out here. And also, now he's suing again, of course he's just doing it for attention.
Walt Sorg 13:37
Or sell more books. If we could trust everybody in Michigan to do the right thing all the time, we could repeal an awful lot of laws, we wouldn't need traffic laws, we wouldn't need any health regulations for restaurants. We wouldn't need all sorts of restrictions on our so called freedoms that are in there every day. You know, it's just you know, do you want to get rid of public health inspections of restaurants and the way they prepare food and the the sanitary conditions in a restaurant? Of course you don't. That's an infringement on the right of business owners, I suppose you could say to operate their businesses the way they want to but the you want to make sure that their employees are washing their hands. You know, we have signs in the restroom that says employees must wash their hands after using the restroom. And that is put in there by government mandate. It and most of the restaurants are doing a great job. The problem is all of them are doing a great job. It's the same with high school sports and with high school kids generally. There have been outbreaks in schools because of parties because of sports gatherings because of youth sports. All of these things going on I saw a complaint on Facebook yesterday they were lamenting the fact that at the girls high school basketball championship, all of the players were wearing masks while they played. They said this is unhealthy. There's absolutely no scientific evidence that is unhealthy. None Not at all. It is just one of those urban legends that is been amplified time and time again by social media, and people that are just anti everything until it affects them personally. It's it kind of reminds me the situation with LGBTQ rights. And you know, you get people like Dick Cheney, who all of a sudden become very positive on LGBTQ rights, because a member of their family is gay. That's the kind of experience you need a hands on personal experience that appears with a lot of people before they will accept the theoretical truth regarding science and regarding social responsibilities.
Christine Barry 15:43
Yeah, well, and you know what, that seems like a perfect segue into this ridiculous conversation around vaccine passports. Like why is there such a there's like all this outrage over vaccine passports, which isn't even a thing yet. It's stupid. You always have to meet certain physical standards to do things. Let's just talk about work to do a job. And I don't mean like you have to meet a standard to lift 50 pounds or stand for several hours, or whatever might be, you know, part of the tasks that you're required to perform for that job. But like, if you want to be a truck driver, you have to present a medical card or a medical examiner certificate, employers can drug screen if they want to, that's a workplace safety issue,
Walt Sorg 16:25
you have to pass a vision test to even get a driver's license.
Christine Barry 16:28
And the Equal Opportunities Commission says that this is okay. It EOC allows you to turn away applicants who are either sick or in some way affect the public health. You know, people who suffer from epilepsy and epileptic seizures have to present medical evidence so that they could drive and I'm not saying that epilepsy or some other illnesses, the same thing is not being vaccinated. But what we're dealing with here is the fact that Michigan, United States, the rest of the world, we all have certain individual medical medical standards for certain things. And, you know, honestly Walt, I think if we hadn't called this a passport, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. It sounds too much like Papers, Please.
Walt Sorg 17:11
Yeah exactly. People find it too, similar to what was demanded of people to prove their identity in the worst days of the 20th century, in what in Western Europe and Germany's specifically. And yeah, I can understand that. But at the same time, it goes against the basic philosophy that I have at least that as a member of society, I have some societal responsibilities, which may not coincide totally, and be in sync with my personal liberties, I have to put some restraints on my life for the better good. And some people just won't accept that fact. It's all about me, me me. In fact, when we were talking with the john Kay sick, the former governor of Ohio, on the other podcast, that we produce a republic, if you can keep it. And he was talking about that in a different context, that the republicans in particular have gone from a philosophy of us to me, and that is something that is very damaging, both to the party into the body politic at large. And that is something we have to start to deal with. It started, I think, with Ronald Reagan, who really focused on the idea of individualism over societal wants. I remember the ridicule when Hillary Clinton published your book, it takes a village. Well, it does take a village. Yeah. Why don't we move on to other issues?
Christine Barry 18:35
Well speaking of villages, let's talk about how republicans are trying to stop those villages from voting. A couple of developments relating to political reform in our state, first by state republicans trying to make it harder, especially for people of color and young people to vote. We've got some insights into how democrats will fight to protect voter rights from Lieutenant Governor Garland Gilchrist over the weekend and an interview on CNN inside politics.
Garlin Gilchrist II 19:04
Well, Republicans in Michigan are doing to try to limit access to the freedom to vote, and people with these proposals is disgusting and dangerous for our democracy in Michigan and across the country. It's part of this coordinated national strategy. The fact that Republicans are instead seeking a strategy that will work around the duly elected governor, the state of Michigan, they want to try to use a minority strategy to be able to make policy and it's a law. I think it's I think it's trying to find a loophole because they know a simple fact, when we had increased voter turnout. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won Michigan in 2020, when we had increased voter turnout, Gretchen Whitmer and I won Michigan in 2018. This is a strategy to reduce voter turnout in Michigan because Republicans in Michigan know they cannot win and voter turnout is high.
Christine Barry 19:50
The minority rule strategy Gilchrist is talking about going around the people and around the governor using a petition drive to put the issue in front of law anchors, who can then pass the bills on a party line vote. And because it starts with a petition drive, they can then bypass the governor and bypass the voters.
Garlin Gilchrist II 20:09
If the bills do go through the legislature, and they do get they do come to our desk, they will get vetoed. We will also challenge the signature gathering process to make sure that it is aboveboard and that it is done legally, which has not always been the case with the Michigan republican party and things that they've tried to press and we will again, use every tool at our disposal when it comes to grassroots pressure to make sure that we are blocking these bills in that may include us an alternative signature gathering process to protect our rights.
Walt Sorg 20:37
And I think that last sentence is really significant. I've been talking with some people about this on the side and there is a possibility that there would be a second petition drive to overturn anything that the republicans jam through with their petition drive, the difference being that the second petition drive would go to the ballot because the legislature wouldn't enact it. And it's a national movement to among democratic state legislators. Legislators from across the nation are banding together to put on as much heat as possible on anti democracy bills which have now spread to virtually every state in the nation. One of those in the coalition is Michigan's Darrin Camilleri from Western Wayne County, who notes that all the focus right now is on Georgia and Texas. A lot of this all traces back to Michigan and the big lie.
Darrin Camilleri 21:22
We know that in Michigan, we were ground zero for the big lie. Michigan was the place where Republicans across our state fomented this lie that our elections are are not secure.
Walt Sorg 21:38
In a conference call sponsored by the State Innovation exchange, Arizona State Representative Athena Salman took note of the fact that the Federal For The People Act HR 1 would stop republican state legislatures in their tracks. But a major impediment to doing that is one of her state senators Krysten Sinemma, who opposes modifying or ending the senate filibuster. With the filibuster in place, a minority of Republican senators have the power to block any and all bills, something that Mitch McConnell, of course, absolutely loves doing.
The senators decision to stick by a procedural rule, versus taking meaningful action to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans, including millions of Arizona's is not a popular position. And so consistently reminding her of that, in the future, not only rests on whether or not the diverse community wide turnout of the Democratic base that she has turns out and actually votes for her and feels inspired by the work that she's done. But it's also contingent upon her favourability rating with independent voters.
Walt Sorg 22:47
Another part of this Christine is a lot of heat is being turned on corporations in the business sector to come out against these anti democracy bills and put heat on Republican legislators and of course, Republicans are pretty open to that heat, since they depend heavily on business contributions to fund their campaigns. Do you think it can be first of all, do you think you can get the corporations on board in Michigan? And secondly, do you think it'll make a difference?
Christine Barry 23:14
At the end of the day, the Republican Party is so dependent on corporations, big corporations, and big corporations are so dependent on the republican party to protect their wealth, that it doesn't really matter. And, and kind of adjacent to that, is that the Republican Party is supposed to stand for the free market, right in an unfettered free market, where companies compete, and the market will decide the consumers will decide the problem that Republicans have is that the consumers doing this deciding now have money. They have money to help push delta and Coca Cola and other companies in the direction they want. And these companies like I think I said this last week, too. I can't get too excited about their social involvement, because it's never as clear as it appears to be. I mean, do you remember when Nike brought on Colin Kaepernick, and everybody was all like, Yay, Nike. Thank you. Thank you. Nike uses child labor. You know, what is wrong with you that you can only see like one tiny little part of it, right? I feel like this is just a bunch of bluster. It doesn't matter. The Republicans need the big companies. The talk is good for their base, you know, the maga base anyway that likes the big anti establishment stuff. But I just don't think that this matters.
Walt Sorg 24:40
I would beg to differ a little bit. I think in Michigan, there is precedent for corporations taking strong positions that they're really behind if they feel it's in their best interest from a corporate standpoint, and that precedent is set by the major major corporate support for amending the Elliot Larsen civil rights act to include LGBTQ rights. You have most of Michigan's biggest corporations supporting that campaign financially in a big way. And they funded the petition drive that's put it in front of will put it in front of the legislature when the signatures are verified. And they're serious about it. And not because they are morally on the high ground, although I think they are in this case, but because it's good for business, they think, and they believe that it is important for Michigan to be a welcoming state and not be a state that fosters discrimination, because they need the workers, they need the customers, they need the goodwill amongst consumers, they see it as good business to be responsible in this manner. And I think the same thing can probably be said, If enough heat is put on them about voting rights. If the bills show to be very, very unpopular, for polling, they'll put a lot of heat on the legislature. Part of the problem, though, is you've got term limits, and a lot of these legislators don't give a crap about what their corporate overlords say, because they're going to be out of office soon, they would just assume perpetuate power for their successors. So it's good, it's going to be a tough battle, it's going to be a long battle. And I suspect a lot of it's going to end up in the courts. And a lot of it's going to end up with a lot more expensive petition drives. But it is something we got to keep tracking.
Christine Barry 26:14
That is true. And I give them credit for that. And it is also been shown time and time again, that diversity in the workplace is good for the company in terms of top line in terms of bottom line, all of that. But what are they funding? I mean, what are they actually doing? They're getting, they're funding grassroots activities. They're not putting direct pressure on the legislators or the Chamber of Commerce. And so what has happened year after year after year, for at least 10 years, we've talked about expanding Elliot Larsen, and it has never gone anywhere in the legislature. These companies have had money for 10 years. And let's say that the data that shows that this favors business, and good business and business success, let's say that's only been around for five years. They still haven't gone after those legislators, they still haven't gotten anything moved there. They put their money into the grassroots. Again, that's why I think it doesn't matter much the money, yes is important. Obviously, I'm not trying to diminish that. And I don't mean to say that I don't appreciate it so much as i think that i think that the republicans and the big corporations are just always going to be in bed together.
Walt Sorg 27:28
I'm not gonna argue with you. Although I am a bit more optimistic about it. We do take steps forward and steps backwards when it comes to improving our democracy coming to a more perfect union. One of the big steps forward, of course, was Michigan's adoption of the independent citizens redistricting commission. And they are moving ahead with their inaugural efforts to draw maps, they just hired one of the nation's leading experts on the federal Voting Rights Act and compliance with that act. That is a really difficult issue, complicated in Michigan by the fact that we're going to lose a member of Congress. The idea is, is to try to come up with maps that are both fair and at the same time preserve two minority majority districts. In the Southeast Michigan area. We have two districts, basically that are majority African American. And whether that is possible with the new map remains to be seen. I've talked with some experts that think don't think it is possible. And it's going to be a very difficult political battle in Southeast Michigan, which will reverberate throughout the state, because every time you adjust the line in Southeast Michigan, it has a domino effect moving outward, about the only district that's not going to be impacted by redistricting significantly as the first district congressionally, which is the Upper Peninsula plus northern lower Michigan, there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do to change that one around. The Commission has also set up a schedule of public hearings across Michigan, something new for a process that used to be conducted totally in secret. Their first hearing will be may 11. in Jackson, with a total of 16 hearings spread over seven weeks, and I commend the commission for setting up 16 hearings. The Constitution requires a minimum of 10 they went far above and beyond for that the complete schedule of commission hearings is on our website. A major topic of discussion will be how to draw districts that take into account what the constitution calls communities of interest. That's a new requirement for Michigan maps and it is one of the highest criteria for making decisions. Voters not politicians. The organization that led the drive to amend the Constitution is now helping let people know about the hearings and explaining communities of interest. To find out more I talked with Connie cook and Sandy Sorini-Elser who are leading VNP's efforts.
Walt Sorg 29:42
Connie Sandy, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast to talk about this subject. That sounds kind of wonky, but it really goes to the core of the representation that we're going to have in Congress in the legislature. Simply stated what is a community of interest.
Connie Cook 29:57
This is the most important thing going on in Michigan politics this year, maybe this decade, so people certainly should know about it. Community of interest is defined in the new constitutional amendment by economic, cultural, historical, or other shared interests. It is not defined by political party affiliation or loyalty to a candidate or elected official. A community of interest is in a specific geographical area and consists of people with shared interests, be they economic, cultural, historical, or other.
Walt Sorg 30:42
Sandy, it's been in the past that when congressional districts and legislative districts are drawn, the dominating factor was geographic lines, making sure you don't split up townships, cities and counties, whereas this is more focused on people rather than a geography. And that seems to me to be a kind of a fundamental shift in the way we think about representative government.
Sandy Sorini-Elser 31:02
Yeah, the the law has seven criteria for revising the districts. The first is federal law, which is mostly the Voting Rights Act and the equal population in the districts. The second is that the districts have to be contiguous. So you can have a piece of the district up in the up and then the rest of it down in Detroit. The third most important criteria are communities of interest. And that's because the people who wrote the law and the people who adopted the law that's 61% of Michiganders adopted the law, wanting to have communities have a very important voice, then there are two criteria that Connie mentioned that we can't use. And that's political affiliations and political parties, so no favoritism for candidates, and no favoritism for the party, party and power out of power. The township and county and city lines are the fifth criteria. And then the last is that districts can't be out, we need to be reasonably compact. So we can't have any more sneaking districts. So I guess it's a total of six criteria. So yeah, it is it is a shift. I know that the Commission will consider boundaries of counties and cities and Township, but they'll also consider the geographic area of communities of interest. So that would be you know, your community. Maybe it's your Eastside Detroit community where you care about the lead in the water, or it's your biking community where you care about the bike lanes. So whatever your community is, you'll want to tell the commission about the boundaries of your community and why you want to stay together.
Walt Sorg 32:40
You can also be ethnic and religious, based as a as a community of interest too
Connie Cook 32:46
Yes, that's right. But those identity characteristics cannot be the sole characteristics unless they are related to public policy issues. For example, disenfranchisement would be a public policy issue, that might be more true of certain ethnic, religious, or racial groups of people. And they would apply to the commission to stay together on the basis of the disenfranchisement that they experience.
Walt Sorg 33:25
Let's use a practical example of how communities of interest were ignored in the past, or at least given less importance than political considerations. And that's the district I happen to live in, which is the eighth congressional district. Lansing is the largest community in the district. Yet, not all of Lansing a city of 110,000 people is within the eighth congressional district. Explain how this would change that?
Connie Cook 33:50
Well I hope that people in Lansing will go to the commission and say that they'd like to be in the same congressional district, since they have shared interests, those interests may be transportation, education, environment, or whatever. And some communities of interest will go to the commission and say that they'd like to be split, that they're tired of being packed into one district, where their votes are wasted, because they are electing representatives by as much as 80% of the vote, when in fact, if they were spread out a little in other districts, they'd have more representation.
Walt Sorg 34:37
Let's say that is somebody who lives in Lansing I very much want my congressional district to include my neighbors just to the north and DeWitt just to my West, in a Delta township and maybe down to Jackson County. How do I go about letting the commission know this is what I think makes sense for our district.
Sandy Sorini-Elser 34:55
what the commission is looking for is a description of your community. Then for you to create some sort of map of your community, you would, I hope that in the Lansing you would get together with the people in your community, a group of people, and decide how you want to describe your Lansing district say that, you know, Lansing has similar cultural characteristics that they want to stay together, they have similar economic reasons that they want to stay together, they all want to have a stronger voice by staying together. And then you would fill out the description of your community. And there's a couple of apps that can help you do that, or we have a paper and pencil format voters, not politicians that can help you do that. And then you would draw a boundary of how you are what your community is, and then submit that to the commission, they're going to have a portal for submission of either electronic or hardcopy maps. And the commission will then take that and weigh it against all the other characteristics.
Walt Sorg 35:59
And it's going to be a real juggling act for the commission because there are conflicting committees of interest within the same town. Sometimes it depends on which which give priority to you as a as voters, not politicians are doing a lot of education on this issue. What are some of the opportunities that you're offering to people who are interested in this, but really need to know more?
Connie Cook 36:19
We are offering to do presentations for many of the communities that have requested it. We're currently doing them on zoom.
Walt Sorg 36:30
Everything's on Zoom Connie, you know that.
Connie Cook 36:34
However, the commission thinks that their public hearings are going to be in person in May. Yeah, well, we will see. And at any rate, we're doing presentations. And for example, last night, we had a webinar that was available to anyone interested in learning about redistricting and this process, we're doing another one that will be publicly available to everyone. On April 29th, we have a website that has excellent information, including slide decks and FAQ's, and the website is vnp.vote/coi like communities of interest group. And if you go to that website, you'll see the background of this constitutional amendment. What it says is, how it's being interpreted what the public hearings are going to do. Everything you'll you'll learn what you need to know about it. And am I right? Walt, in thinking that you were one of those wise souls who helped to craft this constitutional amendment language Originally,
Walt Sorg 37:53
I would question the use of the term wise. I'm not sure that adjective applies. But yeah, I was a part of the drafting. And quite honestly, the the biggest mistake we made, which nobody could have anticipated was we never thought about having a pandemic right in the middle of the whole process.
Connie Cook 38:11
You overlooked a key point.
Walt Sorg 38:13
Yeah, we I apparently, we weren't listening to Bill Gates TED talk from five years ago, about pandemics it just never occurred to us. But other we should stress by the way voters, not politicians is a nonpartisan organization. This is an informational effort on your part, along with groups like the League of Women Voters I know is also doing a lot to educate people. And people should understand that they are going to have the public hearings, they are going to be done in a safe manner. God only knows what that's going to mean in two months. But they will be done in a safe manner. And because of the way the Constitution is written, they've got it through them. Live and in living color, although you'll probably be able to testify on the zoom as well. But yeah, so for more information, just go to vnp.vote/coi, and learn everything they need to do.
Connie Cook 39:00
Walt Sorg 39:02
Connie Cook and Sandy Sorini-Elser, thank you so much for helping us understand a new concept for Michigan or something that's not new in redistricting of a certainly an improvement over the old process. Have a great day.
Connie Cook 39:14
Sandy Sorini-Elser 39:14
Thank you Walt
Christine Barry 39:18
Also on the agenda this week, something that's debated with regularity every few months common sense gun safety. Biden called us gun violence and international embarrassment last week. He also referred to it as a public health crisis, which is very refreshing to hear because it means that there is someone who recognizes the burden of gun violence on America. Finally, in leadership in the White House, Biden talked about some executive actions he planned to take including promises to go after ghost guns and arm braces for pistols. Now, if you're not familiar with these, a ghost gun really is just a gun that is assembled from multiple pieces purchased from multiple different places, so it's not something that can be tracked back with one serial number, whatever. And the arm braces for pistols. I'll have some pictures, some links. So you can kind of see what that's all about. But what it does is it takes a pistol. And it it's kind of this kit that makes it look much more like a longer rifle. it stabilizes your pistol and it has been these arm braces have been called things that can make a pistol more like a shotgun. These are just two of the things that he discussed that it's really exciting Walt, to see leadership in the White House, really talking about gun violence, like the public health crisis that it is.
Walt Sorg 40:42
Yeah, but at the same time, you've got a congress that seems to be totally disconnected from public sentiment. The latest polling on the issue of gun safety legislation continues to show a vast majority of Americans want more done on gun safety. This is a USA Today Ipsos poll was released a few days ago, two thirds of Americans supporting tougher gun laws in the wake of the two mass shootings in Colorado in Georgia. The poll was conducted March 23 to 24th. One day after the deadly shooting in Boulder, Colorado. 65% of respondents said the current gun laws should be stricter, with 41% saying they should be a lot more strict, and 24% saying they should be somewhat more strict. The percentage of those who believe gun law should be a lot more strict dropped, though by nine percentage points. From when Ipsos conducted the same survey in 2019. Republican support for stronger gun laws has dropped 12%. But in Congress the reaction it seems more and more we've got minority rule in Congress, even sometimes on the House side. But definitely in the senate side where the minority pretty much controls like when you take the 50 republicans plus Joe Manchin and Kristen cinema, you have a minority control the people who senators who represent about 40% of the American people seem to be in charge. I'm pessimistic is always that Congress will do anything that really matters. And this is just going to be one of those issues that's never gonna go away. Because we just got too many people that are susceptible to the I think, inane belief that guns make you safer. If guns made you safer, and the United States has all the guns, how come we've got the highest gun murder rate in the world?
Christine Barry 42:27
Yeah, I agree. And, you know, I think that if you could just reach in and lift out groups like the NRA. And I don't know other other groups that are out there advocating for gun sales, gun proliferation, and really running marketing campaigns against any kind of, quote, unquote, gun control. Then these senators and our elected representatives and community leaders, you could all go out and talk about what we're what, what makes sense. And you wouldn't have to worry about these million dollars, multi million dollar campaigns against you personally, the NRA should not be making this decision because they lie. And honestly, I think we can all admit that different places in the United States have a different need for guns. You know, I want to firearm because it's going to take, I don't know 10 minutes for the police to get to me if I need the police. it. I don't know what police response would be like where you are. I know that in Arizona. You know, we were just talking about the senator there. In some places in Arizona, it would fit they have to have a gun, they have predators out there, they are too far away from help. So different places have different needs. But you can't even have an adult conversation about a background check because of all this marketing that goes into it.
Walt Sorg 43:51
And also, there's got to be a discussion about gun safety from the perspective of the gun owner. Right now any person who does not have a criminal record, can walk into a gun shop and get a weapon whether or not they know how to use it safely, or know how to use it at all. Yet to get a driver's license, you have to take a test, a written test and a practical test showing that you can safely drive before they let you out on the road. And that's true of a lot of things that are out there you there's got to be some demonstration of competence before you go out to do it. You know, it's it's easier to buy a gun than it is right now to vote in some places, and that's pretty sad. Also on the DC docket, of course the President's $2 trillion plus jobs and infrastructure program. public support remains strong. We'll have some polling on the website about that. It may even be growing and one of the cabinet members leading the charg is Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm friend of the pod who walked into the lion's den called Fox News, and she emerged unscathed,
Jennifer Granholm 44:55
this bill is so reminiscent of a bipartisan bill. That was passed in December was the Energy Act of 2020, which had enormous bipartisan support investing in the technologies that will help us win this clean energy future that both sides voted for. So this is really a fulfillment of the of the down payment that was made in 2020.
Walt Sorg 45:21
Granholm's focus continues to be on her department's portfolio, which, of course, is securing the nation's energy supply for the 21st century to combat climate change. And also to avoid a repeat of things like the fiasco in Texas, where the power grid collapse for several days because of bad weather,
Jennifer Granholm 45:38
who doesn't want America to be to create the supply chains for our own energy security to have manufacturing in this country who doesn't want to have a safe electric grid who doesn't want to make sure that we are building the the technologies of the future and not allowing our economic competitors to eat us for lunch? There's so much in this bill to like that.
Walt Sorg 46:03
I hope people don't take positional arguments, especially since the American people seem to like so much of it, which they of course, do I we mentioned this last week, but I really think it bears stressing again. And that is the administration has been very, very smart. In picking Jennifer Granholm and Pete Buttigieg to be the two leading spokespersons for this jobs and infrastructure package. They are incredibly good in television interviews, they are incredibly good at dealing with hostile questions. And in framing the debate around the the contentions of this bill and the merits of this bill that the administration wants to stress that we have to get ready for the 21st century rather than debate about the infrastructure of the 20th century.
Christine Barry 46:46
Yeah, I agree. And, you know, let's talk about how we're going to pay for that Biden released a plan to raise corporate taxes. I am not a tax expert, by any means. But you know, again, I'm going to take you back the discussion we just had corporate tax is being raised by Biden, Corporations, some actually, some corporations have said they're in support of it. But many corporations, the leadership, they're not gonna like that. Let's finally admit now, though, that by giving these big corporations, so many tax breaks, it really hasn't grown our economy and helped America in the way that we want it. This trickle down economics plan has not worked, at least not in the widely understood sense that if you load wealth up at the top, and that's all you do, it'll trickle down and everyone will be happy, we'll have all this spending. And we'll have all this good infrastructure, because we don't. So what do we have to do we have to fix this corporate tax plan, so that we can pay for all these things we want to do. We can put Granholm and Buttigieg out there all we want, but until we can find a way to pay for this and get it through, unfortunately, Congress and the Senate, it doesn't matter how good these ideas are,
Walt Sorg 47:54
there seems to be a growing corporate consensus that I've been reading about for a 25% corporate tax, the president proposed 28% it's currently 21. And of course, no Corporation actually pays the full tax, right? There's all sorts of loopholes, some of which you would like to close, especially on multinational businesses, I do think it's significant that some of the wealthiest people on the planet are supporting an increase in corporate tax rates, including Jeff Bezos, from Amazon, the wealthiest man on the planet, along with Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, you know, three of the five wealthiest people in the universe, if you don't count Putin, and having their support certainly says says something about it. And I think they can provide the leadership, I suspect that you would find Apple computers supportive of it as well, another major player haven't heard yet from the folks at Google. But if the tech industry is supportive of it, and I think most of them will be because their profit margins are just so incredibly high. That's a major step forward. Plus, the tech companies understand, we need infrastructure investment, because infrastructure investment is what built their businesses. They're all built around the internet, which was created by the government. And they understand that we've got to keep competing on the technology of the internet and other parts of our infrastructure, they're going to lose money.
Christine Barry 49:16
Yeah. And I think there's growing groundswell of support for infrastructure investment, just as you had mentioned earlier, the public really supports this. And it's, it's been managed well, from the messaging and outreach. Warren Buffet but has always supported more more taxes. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos Are you know, you have to be billionaires before he'll support. I mean, that's how I feel about the I mean, Bill Gates, philanthropy, I'm not questioning his what's in his heart or anything, but you know,
Walt Sorg 49:45
he's actually he's trying to give away his money. And he gives away a lot of it right now through his foundation. So I think his motives are, other than Of course, wanting to plant microchips and all of us using the vaccine we know that's an evil plot.
Christine Barry 49:59
I saw A Photoshop that proved that is true.
Walt Sorg 50:02
Oh, really? I'm sure you did.
Christine Barry 50:04
Walt Sorg 50:06
did you know that there's 2400 beginners on the planet according to Forbes 2400 beginners, they have a combined net worth in the trillions and trillions of dollars. It is just an amazing number of incredibly how in God's name do you plan to spend a billion dollars in a lifetime? You can do it if you want to, you can do an awful lot of good with that money and still live extravagantly. Well, but that's another
Christine Barry 50:31
2400 billionaires and not a single Batman. This is —
Walt Sorg 50:37
Okay, why don't we move on? Yeah.
Christine Barry 50:40
All right. Well, we begin with two investigations by the Attorney General with two different outcomes. Both cases involve the death of a prisoner while in police custody. And in one of those cases significant criminal charges are coming.
Dana Nessel 50:53
We are charging five individuals with involuntary manslaughter, failure to perform a legal duty, a 15 year felony. The elements of involuntary manslaughter are one, the defendants had a legal duty imposed by law. To the defendants knew of the duty three, the defendants willfully neglected that duty, and their failure to perform the duty was grossly negligent to human life. And for that the death of the victim was directly caused by the defendants failure to perform their duties.
Christine Barry 51:31
And the second case was in Lansing where Nessel found that the police acted properly. And the death of their prisoner while tragic was not the result of police actions. So the two men were in police custody when they died. And to be clear, these are two unrelated cases there's one in Lansing and one in Muskegon County. In the Lansing incident, the man in question was arrested for erratic behavior and assault. He was taken to jail where that behavior, the erratic behavior continued. He was then taken to Sparrow for medical evaluation, he tested positive for meth and ecstasy. The doctor at Sparrow medically discharged him and he was taken back to jail where his erratic behavior continued, and his heart stopped during this, the officers immediately rendered aid called for an ambulance that took him back to Sparrow where he was pronounced dead. And most of this is on video or documented so well that there's just nothing there to suggest wrongdoing by the police. And unfortunately, the man probably just ingested a deadly mix of drugs. Now the second man up in Muskegon was a little different. He was arrested, he was classified as suicidal, which means he has to be monitored by officers every 15 minutes, he was kept close to the booking Center, which means he's near an area where there are officers, I think all the time, but at least most of the time, and he was always visible on video monitors. And two weeks after his arrest, he started having seizures, and he experienced several visible seizures in a five and a half hour period that immediately preceded his death. So the lack of action by the jail personnel is the issue here. And it's why they're charged. So I just wanted to make that clear, because she did these two at the same time. She announced the two at the same time. And I think there was a little bit of confusion as to how this these two pieces were related and how they how they were different.
Walt Sorg 53:21
And she was just asked to investigate both of them at about the same time, which they did. What I found very interesting was the fact that they made this announcement right in the middle of the George Floyd trial, which has been absolutely riveting for those that have been able to watch it on television, the whole thing is televised. And the case that is being built against the police officers in Minneapolis is just overwhelming, especially when you consider that a half dozen Minneapolis police officers, including the chief of police have been prosecution witnesses and non hostile witnesses, basically saying that this officer violated all sorts of training and policy and was in fact responsible for the death of George Floyd. I pray to God that they the jury finds justice for George Floyd in this case, I can't see any way that this officer can be acquitted for reasons other than the great blue wall extending to the jury. Meanwhile, in our polarized political system, it appears the polarization is increasing but the numbers are very bad news for the Trump only party in Gallup polling through the first quarter of 2021, an average of 49% of US adults identified with the democratic party or said they are independents who lean towards the democratic party that compares with 40% identifying as Republicans and Republican leaners. The Nine percentage point democratic advantage is the largest Gallup has measured since the fourth quarter of 2012. In recent years, democratic advantages have typically been four to six percentage points. What is fascinating about these findings is despite the fact that we are a democratic majority country, Republicans have managed to Hold on to the White House, even though they lost the popular vote in two of the last three elections that they supposedly won. They have controlled Congress through gerrymandering through much of the last decade as well. I'm a firm believer in the idea that minority rule is not sustainable in a country that calls itself a representative democracy. And it really concerns me that you've got Republicans who are the minority party, who have had so much control over all three branches of government. I like to remind folks that five of the nine justices in the Supreme Court were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote to by George W. Bush, three by Donald Trump. So you've got a Supreme Court that is out of step with the American people as well. Any argument?
Christine Barry 55:46
Well, you know, the what I would add to that is any attempt to discuss the fact that you have this really solid system for minority rule is met with complaints or cries out against mob rule. And it's a minority consent, not minority rule that is protected in our Constitution. So it's frustrating that you see such an emotional response from people you can, you know, clearly if things were the other way around, let's say that Democrats represented 40% of the population, and I, you know, I'm just using that number. And republicans represented 50 and the 10%, in between did whatever they did, you know, the republicans wouldn't have it, they would be moving mountains to change it. So that minority rule was not allowed, could not happen. I mean, they don't even want … They don't want majority of like, they don't want ethnic minorities to vote. I'm glad that republican identification, Republican membership, whatever is down, because I think people should understand if they pay dues, and they donate to this Republican Party. They're funding treason, in my opinion, just based on January 6, the attack on the Capitol encouraging it participating it now you have many Republicans defending it. That's treason. And I'm not talking about conservatives, Walt you and I both have conservative friends. I'll, I'll talk to a conservative, thoughtful conservative all day. I mean, that's not an issue. I'm talking about maga and the Republican Party members. I still think that ID that membership is too high, but probably won't go much lower.
Walt Sorg 57:27
Well, I agree with you on the idea that there are responsible conservatives trying to reform the republican party to return it to its pre Trump status. One of them is the former governor of Ohio, John Kasich, his formula for the GOP is something we normally only hear from Democrats. And that's true grassroots activism.
John Kasich 57:47
It's about all of us asserting ourselves, at times when we may have to get out of our comfort zone. That's, that's okay. But that gives us an opportunity all of us to be more powerful. And we tend to think, well, we don't really matter. It's the big, big Jesus, it's the elites that matter of note, frankly, we matter. And the more that we can convince people that where they can begin to take action. And just I'll give you one a good example that look at Greta Thunberg is young school girl who, you know, just demanded the world pay attention to the environment. I mean, she's she was just standing outside the legislature, I guess, in Sweden, and it became a global movement.
Walt Sorg 58:29
And Governor Kasich is quite open about the fact that he will support democrats if he thinks they are one good people and two, that their intentions are good. And you can live with them on a policy point of view. He In fact, did endorse Joe Biden for president he spoke at the Democratic National Convention last year, he was interviewed on our sister podcast to Republic if you can keep it. By the way this week on that podcast, their guests will be a another former governor, and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis should be a most interesting discussion with somebody who's been a big part of the political scene for a long time.
Christine Barry 59:05
Let's get a little bit local, Michigan county cities and townships are beginning to grasp the reality that help from Washington is really on the way, millions of dollars pour into Michigan as part of the beiden COVID Relief Act. A lot of the money will fill gaps created in local budgets by a pandemic. But there's also substantial money for locally controlled relief for small businesses, as well as investment in things like fixing roads and bridges. And well, so I'm going to refer people I'm going to ask people to see a bridge resource bridge magazine research that that we will link to in our show notes because it has the numbers broken down for all the counties like dollars per person, that kind of thing, as well as some details on the restrictions for the use of this money. So for example, the money is is restricted in ways like it can't be used to strengthen pension funds, but you can use the money to To replace old water systems, fix some roads, that kind of thing. They're talking about how they can create this local grant system for businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. You know, from a personal perspective, that's going to be really interesting to me to see how this all gets handled that handled if the business grants are handled fairly and everything because, you know, I used to blog, local politics, and it's interesting how decisions are made. So this should be fun to watch. And it's also very exciting. I'll just add one more thing that when we went remote, when our school district went remote, last year, we had double digits, we were in the double digits for kids that didn't have robust broadband at home. So we can invest in that kind of infrastructure, even in sidewalks like, like, there are a lot of areas where the houses are close enough to town where you could walk in or close enough to a store where you could walk, but there's no sidewalk. So you're either in the ditch or in the road or something. If you can invest in those kinds of things, you can make a difference in your community for, you know, a couple generations. I mean, this is this is exciting.
Walt Sorg 1:01:08
I like the fact that there's a lot of flexibility for local governments to figure out how best to invest this money and invest is a really important word. This is not to be used for operations, although they can use it to fill gaps left, because of revenue shortfalls created by the pandemic, especially in the income tax cities, they have been devastated by the loss of revenue, because income tax collections are weighed down. But they're even in Lansing. I'm on the city's public service board. And we were talking about this a few days ago. There will be money in there so that we can invest in our infrastructure. And investing in our infrastructure is different from operations, because yes, we're borrowing using borrowed money, basically money that the federal government is borrowing from bondholders, but it's sort of like taking out a second mortgage on your home to fix the roof. That is something that makes financial sense in a lot of situations. And certainly things like fixing the roads fixing sewers. The president wants to get rid of lead pipes for water service in the country. Those kinds of things are investments that pay off for 2030 4050 years. And we can do that using money that can be borrowed virtually for free. Interest rates are so low, so I really like it. Although you might my friend Mark Grebner, who's the on the Ingham County Commission, he joked we're gonna have to buy buckets to hand out money from after hearing that Ingham County alone was in line for $57 million from the federal government. But I know that money is not going to be wasted. They're not going to just throw it away on useless short term projects that create a little short term gain. It's going to be invested in our community with the dividends being paid for for many, many, many months. And many many years after this. And finally, in our notes today, one of Michigan's least visible members of Congress, millionaire self funder Lisa McClain, is making national news for all the wrong reasons. The headline in Raw Story today was Michigan maga lawmaker ignoring COVID crisis in her district to push Trump conspiracies. What Lisa McClain is doing is focusing on everything but the the COVID situation. She's talking a lot about immigration. She is one of the people who signed on to the lawsuits, challenging whether or not the election was even legitimate. She voted against certifying the votes of several states for President of the United States and the electoral Congress. And she really downplays the whole COVID thing. She says she heard the claim make a bizarre comparison between COVID-19 and children who drowned according to this person. Now this is hearsay, but according to the person Coronavirus story COVID kill less than 250 children, said McClain, whereas 800 Kids drowned each year in America, but we don't ban swimming pools. I just flat as dumb. But Lisa McClain's got a lot of money and she's in a district where Republicans always going to win so we'll link to the story. It's, it's it's kind of unfortunate.
Christine Barry 1:04:08
It's just another case of celebrity maga, you know, they just say things because they're pandering to that base that likes to hear stupid things. So they say stupid things. It's almost like it's almost like the worst of reality TV Walt.
Walt Sorg 1:04:23
It's getting a sex trafficker as the keynote speaker at your conference, which of course just happened Matt Gaetz speaking to a Republican women's conference. And of course, it's it symbolically was great because the conference was held in a country club owned by the previous president. And they're gonna they had a reception over the weekend as well at the private club in Palm Beach, owned by the previous president. And reportedly at that event, he spent most of his time whining about the election again and had been stolen from him. And also viciously attacking mitch mcconnell of all people for being dumb. I'll say a lot of nasty things about mitch mcconnell but dumb ain't one of them. He's one of the smartest,
Christine Barry 1:05:05
I think is slimy AF but he you have to give that man credit for the horrible things that he has done that will last for decades.
Walt Sorg 1:05:16
He's the john Engler of DC
Christine Barry 1:05:18
Yeah, yeah, people said the same things about john Engler when he was governor too. You got a fear that man and you got to give him credit for the long lasting impact that he has changing things around. Things that you're not really looking at.
Walt Sorg 1:05:33
on that happy note. Let's say goodbye.
Christine Barry 1:05:36
Let's say goodbye. Yes, please. That's a wrap. I can't take any more bad news. To learn more about today's topics head on over to our website that's at Michigan Policast calm we've got some polls over there link that you can take a look at. have information about the guns, gun actions we were talking about. There are other links all kinds of tweets videos, memes providing background on today's topics.
Walt Sorg 1:05:59
No recipes for this week.
Christine Barry 1:06:01
Maybe I'll find a recipe. Okay, cuz that would you like the recipe?
Walt Sorg 1:06:05
You had like something that's kind of heart-healthy this week? How's that?
Christine Barry 1:06:08
Boring, but I'll do it.
Walt Sorg 1:06:10
as always, we welcome your comments. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment via our Facebook page or scream at us on Twitter. And make sure you subscribe to our sister podcast to Republic if you can keep it with longtime Michigan political insiders. Jeff Timmer and Mark Brewer, as previously noted their guests this week on the podcast that drops on Wednesday will be 1988 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Dukakis, as you may recall, was obliterated by George HW Bush in the election. But he set the stage for the election four years later with Bill Clinton. And so I think he was kind of a transformational candidate in a weird sort of way for the democrats who have been absolutely demolished by Ronald Reagan. And we're still limping when he ran, but divide the time the next four years were over. It was Bill Clinton, and the massive time of prosperity in America. And since the election of Bill Clinton, Republicans have only won the popular vote once for President of the United States. Anyway, you can find their podcasts on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, tune in I Heart Radio Stitcher, and probably a few other places as well.
Christine Barry 1:07:18
We're out of here. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you next week.
Michigan Policast with Walt Sorg and Christine Barry is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.