COVID-19, the economy, the Big Lie and voter suppression. John Lindstrom on the ballot initiative abuse.

May 24, 2021

Michigan Policast for Monday, May 24, 2021

  • Masks and vaccinations
  • National and state economic updates
  • The Big Lie and voter suppression
  • John Lindstrom on Michigan's alarming ballot initiative law
  • January 6 commission
  • Political notes
  • Transcript

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Jump to a topic:

Masks and vaccinations

The story of the syphilis study at Tuskegee

National and state economic updates






The Big Lie and voter suppression





John Lindstrom on Michigan's alarming ballot initiative law

January 6 commission







Political notes



At this point, the question isn’t whether the @MIGOP embraces extremism, it’s how many amongst their ranks are in line with these unhinged sentiments. Since no one's been brave enough to call Maddock’s latest antics out, we have our answer.

— Lavora Barnes (@LavoraBarnes) May 19, 2021




Interesting stuff:







(Raw transcript, you may find some errors)


Gretchen Whitmer  00:04

Light is getting back to normal.


Walt Sorg  00:06

Vax on,  mask off, but not quite yet.  I Walt Sorg.


Joe Biden  00:11

The future the auto industry electric. There's no turning back.


Christine Barry  00:16

Joe Biden's trip to Dearborn launches what may be a game changer for autos and for Michigan, and he scores some major political points in the process. I'm Christine Barry.


Walt Sorg  00:26

Also this week investigating the January 6 assault on the Capitol turns partisan and splits Michigan's Republicans, state legislative republicans finally agreed to actually do their job and pass a budget and Rashida to leave those from the fringes of Congress center stage.


Christine Barry  00:43

We'll also take a look at the latest political games in Lansing including a new election truther candidate for governor and we'll be joined by veteran capital journalist john Lindstrom to talk about a huge anti democracy loophole in the state's constitution.



This is Michigan Policast with Walt Sorg in Christine Barry, Michigan politics and policy and the National stories impacting our pleasant peninsula.


Christine Barry  01:09

After more than a year of mask mandates, contentious restrictions on businesses and non stop political sniping from the legislature. We are finally on the brink of getting back to a much more normal life,


Gretchen Whitmer  01:21

we will maintain our mass rule is already announced but otherwise lift all mitigation measures on outdoor gatherings and only retain a 50% capacity limit on indoor establishments. That means that an indoor social gathering like a wedding or a funeral or a conference, or a graduation party, will be allowed to resume at 50% capacity through the month of June. In June, people who are not yet fully vaccinated are required to continue to mask up when they're indoors on July one, that is when we will take our final step, we will lift the broad mask and gatherings order and will no longer impose broad mitigation measures during the pandemic. Unless of course, unanticipated circumstances arise. We do not expect that to happen.


Garlin Gilchrist II  02:13

Christine in the news of what is happening in Michigan across the nation is just absolutely amazing. The numbers of infections, the numbers of hospitalizations are plummeting. The death statistics haven't quite gone down as quickly. There's always a two or three week time lag on that. But all in all, it seems like the vaccines have succeeded far beyond what we could have hoped.


Christine Barry  02:34

Yeah, things are definitely looking better. It looks like we're over 57% vaccinated now. I'm not confident we'll be at herd immunity by fall. A handful of health professionals have also expressed skepticism over opening things up to the extent that the governor announced although I didn't think people would go through another Fourth of July under restrictions anyway. But I mean, we're we're heading in the right direction. And I'm not as concerned about the variants as I was before. I think people are going to do what they personally feel safe doing regardless, but I do like where we're going from the pandemic numbers standpoint, as well as the standpoint of what the governor's orders look like


Garlin Gilchrist II  03:15

one of the things the governor rejected during that presentation that she made when she announced that she was changing the restrictions in light of the CDC recommendations. She said we weren't going to do a lottery in Michigan like they're doing in Ohio. She may rethink that now. Ohio says that since they announced that million dollar a week lottery for five weeks, their vaccination rate has gone up 28% amongst Ohioans 16 and older, that is a huge increase. And I think you can probably say it's directly attributable to the longshot prospects of winning that million bucks. What the heck, 5 million bucks out of all the COVID money that we've got in Michigan seems to me like it would be just a tremendous investment. If it got us up to where we actually had like 75 80% of adults vaccinated.


Christine Barry  04:05

Yeah, I think, you know, I really was like, Oh, that's a silly idea. Which is why I'm not in charge of this policy, I suppose. But if it does help get people who are generally just, you know, they're not in a hurry to get it or they're indifferent. They're not really worried about getting sick, then a lottery Yeah, why not go and get your vaccination, if you're not opposed to it?


Garlin Gilchrist II  04:33

Why not? According to the Ohio Department of Health, the weekend prior to the announcement of vaccinations dropped by 25% in the state compared to the weekend preceding that. The weekend after the announcement. vaccinations were up 28% for the same age group, compared to the weekend prior. It worked. And congratulations to Governor dewine and his team for coming up with that. I was like you I was a little skeptical whether it would work. And I know there are concerns that it may even seem to be a little coarse have to bribe people to get vaccinated. But I'm of a mindset that whatever it takes to get people vaccinated is fine with me, I can go with it as long as it's illegal. And that makes a lot of sense. We will post on our website, links to the latest data, both from bridge magazine, the State Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the New York Times, no matter where you look on those numbers for the United States. And for Michigan, it's really, really good news. And clearly for the governor, this is good news as well, because she's been tried to stay one step ahead of the legislature. And their demands that we reopen Michigan, and every time they make a demand, she is able to use the data to justify being one step ahead of them before they even get a bill passed. Now,


Christine Barry  05:49

clearly, she has been on top of all of the information as soon as she gets it. I don't know that she's always presented it in a strategically, you know, strong way. But it's really good just to see that we're in this position. And I'm, I'm happy about that. I do want to mention one thing about the lottery. Last week, we talked more about the ethical considerations in southern Michigan Public Health officials who had concerns about what you had mentioned whether we're coercing people into getting vaccinations. So if you want more information on that last week's episode would be a good place to get some links.


Garlin Gilchrist II  06:32

Absolutely. What I think in terms of the governor's approach to this, it reminds me in a very positive way of Sarah Palin, remember that old mine of hers that hockey moms were a pit bulls with lipstick. That's the way she's really handled this, she's been a pit bull with lipstick, and has taken no guff from the legislature or from the who hasn't worried about the polls, although they've generally been supportive, and has managed to pet the toughest skin in Michigan, and when all the shots that she has taken, and criticisms up to the point of having death threats in a plot to assassinate her, despite all of that she's done what she thought was right. And I think that the next few weeks are going to demonstrate she was right, and that by the Fourth of July, we're actually going to be back to normal, although I am quite certain we're really gonna have a two tiered society, for those who refuse to get vaccinated. And for those who are unable to because of their particular circumstances, it's almost like they're gonna have second class citizenship in a lot of ways. And it's on them. It's in most cases, it's their choice. There are some people who can't take the vaccine because their auto immune compromised or something like that. But for the most part, I really wonder how much discrimination there's going to be against people who refuse to get vaccinated or don't want to prove that they've been vaccinated.


Christine Barry  07:51

People who have an auto immune disorder or for whatever reason cannot be vaccinated generally don't have a problem with informing people who need to know that they're more understanding of how the system works. If you simply refuse to get vaccinated because of whatever reason, then, you know, you deal with the consequences. This is a public health concern. You know, it's not like we're trying to get into your business of religion or anything like that. It's a public health concern. It's killed how many hundreds of 1000s of Americans now?


Garlin Gilchrist II  08:25

Yeah, we also have to be cautious to the governor warns that this isn't necessarily over it looks like it's heading towards a successful conclusion. But we are not there yet.


Gretchen Whitmer  08:36

The vaccine is the best way to keep you and your family and the most vulnerable among us, safe from COVID-19. Recently, the Pfizer vaccine, manufactured right here in Michigan, was authorized for children ages 12 to 1610s of 1000s of kids have already gotten their shots. And I encourage all parents with kids in that age range to speak to your doctors about this vaccine. While millions of Michiganders have already gotten vaccinated. I know that many people still have questions where some just want to wait it out. I want to speak to those people and answer some of their questions. These vaccines are safe. Over 116 million Americans have taken it. It's been rigorously tested and is trusted by doctors. Like other vaccines before it for polio and smallpox. The vaccine represents hope and healing. And even if you've had COVID, you should still get vaccinated to protect yourself from variants, and repeat infections. And if you want to know more, I encourage you to speak with your family doctor and learn how vaccines can save your life and the lives of the people you love.


Garlin Gilchrist II  09:48

And the effectiveness of the vaccine isn't just a good health news for the state of Michigan in the country. It's also very good for the state's economy. Lieutenant Governor garlin Gilchrist and the governor are basking in In what looks like an economic boom in Michigan, just yesterday, we


Garlin Gilchrist II  10:04

saw how Michigan's economy is moving forward. As our unemployment rate is lower than national average. We've added jobs for three consecutive months 968,000 jobs have been added over the past year. That is real progress. Progress are getting Michiganders and our economy back to normal.


Christine Barry  10:25

And the shrinking unemployment rate means that those collecting unemployment will once again be required to be actively seeking employment. Those work search requirements return on May 30. But things are looking much better. Now three straight months of employment gains are beating the national average in terms of reducing unemployment. Now we've got stimulus money going to work for us. So hopefully things will keep going in the right direction.


Garlin Gilchrist II  10:52

Now the rules for people on unemployment continuing to collect unemployment are actually fairly loose. In addition to actually applying for jobs. First of all, people only have to normally would only have to apply for a job once a week. But they can also do other things. Instead, they can attend a jobs fair, create a profile or resume on a professional networking site, participate in an online job search workshops or seminars. And there are waivers, of course, for people who are unable to seek employment for one reason or another parent of a child attending school remotely because the school is closed, although hopefully that's no longer going to be a problem, unable to work because of allowable COVID related reasons, or they're self employed and receiving pandemic unemployment assistance. It's not as draconian as what they're doing in many other states, which is the republican governors have basically cut off the federal supplemental to anybody who is unemployed, because they say wrongly, that that is the major reason why there is a worker shortage. And there's a lot of data indicate there are other reasons for worker shortages. People are not seeking work, in some cases, for health reasons, they are afraid to go back to where they work,


Christine Barry  12:03

things aren't necessarily good, just because employment, i mean unemployment is going down, we still have higher unemployment than before the pandemic, but for the reasons that you say, we also have supply chain issues, Chip shortages, and the essential worker gigs aren't as in demand as they were, wages are still historically low. That's a problem that, you know, was here before the pandemic. And, you know, as far as the work environment and employment right now, some employers have offered bonuses or raised, you know, raise wages to get people and generally supported by the Michigan Republicans, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Mackinac center, is that, we just need to eliminate those state incentives to not work like you mentioned, Republican governors just cutting off the federal supplement money. And that's just, you know, that's just not true. I mean, Brian Calley, who is head of the Michigan Small Business Association, said that the problem with trying to give incentives to get people to come back into the labor market is that the employer can't compete with unemployment benefits, because the employer can't offer a work environment with 100% time off. And obviously, that's true. There are people who just don't want to work, I get that you get that well, but those people weren't going to work anyway. You know, if this is a capitalist society, we should employ the capitalist solution, which is to, you know, raise wages.


Garlin Gilchrist II  13:37

Yeah, the jobs they can fill are the ones that pay sub poverty level wages, they can't get people to fill those jobs. And they wonder why the problem is, yeah, there's


Christine Barry  13:47

no single time, sick time.


Garlin Gilchrist II  13:49

No retirement plans, don't maternity leave, or family leave, no nothing. And in a lot of cases, they work these people 30 hours a week, so they don't have to pay any fringes at all. And they wonder why they can't fill the when they want somebody to come to work for 12 bucks an hour, and that person is trying to support a family. You can't do it on 12 bucks an hour, you can't it's hard to do it on 15.


Christine Barry  14:12

And not just you know that at the individual worker level, but at the overall policy level, they always support things that are anti worker. So, you know, I would like to see this be a learning like a lesson for them. But I don't think they're gonna take that opportunity. And I think they're just going to continue to say that socialism is killing their business. And I'm speaking generally, of course, a lot of employers have not taken that route at all. But you know, generally speaking, we have people who are quote unquote, pro business and it's not so much pro business as it is just anti worker.


Garlin Gilchrist II  14:52

Michigan's economy got a big boost during the week from President Joe Biden. He flew into Dearborn to speak on the eve of Ford's booster. Medic vehicle launched since the Mustang was launched 57 years ago, the all electric f 150 pickup. For more than 30 years the F 150 has been the best selling vehicle in America with a base price under $40,000. This new vehicle is definitely aiming at the same mass market.


Joe Biden  15:20

The future the auto industry is electric. There's no turning back. And as Rory says the American auto industry is at a crossroads. The real question is whether it will lead or fall behind in the race the future, or whether we'll build these vehicles in the batteries that go in them here in the United States rely on other countries. Whether the jobs to build these vehicles and batteries are good paying union jobs with benefits, jobs will sustain and grow the middle class. They roll back the standards we said roll backs that the Ford Motor Company opposed despite bipartisan support for consumer incentives. They let the Federal Tax Credit expire, penalizing auto workers for selling the most electric vehicles at the time. They announced infrastructure week. And they announced it and announced it and announced it announced it every week for four years didn't do a damn thing. Didn't get the job done.


Christine Barry  16:24

The President used the opportunity to again emphasize his American jobs and infrastructure plan for making sure American manufacturers aren't left behind.


Joe Biden  16:35

Folks. The rest of the world is moving fast. They're moving ahead. They're not waiting for the United States of America, government, labor industry working together have to step up. And we have a playbook. That will work. We're going to set a new pace for electric vehicles. That means reversing the previous administration is short sighted rollback of vehicle emissions and efficiency standards. Setting strong clear targets where we need to go. It means passing the American jobs plan.


Garlin Gilchrist II  17:15

That trip was really amazing. It was a huge win win win for the President. I think his impromptu ride in the f1 50 is no surprise to those who know Joe Biden. He loves cars he loves to drive fast. He's got a vintage Corvette is one of his prized possessions. And apparently he got up to about 80 miles an hour in that f150 I know from having owned an electric vehicle in the past I had one of the original Chevy volts. That it is amazing when you step on the accelerator you've got instant 100% torque unlike with a gas engine, and those things take off like a banshee zero to 30 I could be the Corvette with my volt after that of course the Corvette would catch up with me because it was much more powerful vehicle but this f 150 is just amazing. Rachel Maddow did a whole half hour on it. The Night of the the president speech a complete with an interview for the chief engineer a Chinese immigrant By the way, who is responsible for the construction of this vehicle. And there's a lot of interesting people saying this is the game changer for electric vehicles. It's not just Tesla owners anymore or people who drive the transitional vehicles like I did with the volt which is part battery and Part A like a part gasoline that this is a mainstream vehicle at a mainstream price. That is really going to change the landscape.


Christine Barry  18:36

As a rural Democrat. I don't even see myself getting an electric truck. I have to see the power in them before I can because like my experience while is that electric things are simply not as powerful.


Garlin Gilchrist II  18:50

This f 150 is more powerful than the gasoline version. The best selling pickup truck in America for 30 years best not the best truck. Best Seller can


Christine Barry  19:00

It's not as American is apple pie baseball hotdogs Chevrolet


Garlin Gilchrist II  19:03

yeah okay okay okay, but it's been trucks and I drive I drive a Chevy by the way.


Christine Barry  19:09

I understand. I think there has to be more marketing around it before people like me will start to accept it as a powerful vehicle. I can't imagine my my Silverado being electric and being as powerful as it is as a gas engine. I don't want to stick with gas engines don't get me wrong. I just think I need to see some major demonstrations.


Garlin Gilchrist II  19:34

Yeah, they did a demo with a prototype of the truck about a year ago where it was used just off the line type truck nothing special was used to tow one 100 freight cars, over a million pounds they used to tow the tow 2 million pounds with it. And it is according to Ford it is more powerful than any pickup truck they have ever produced. So we will see I think what the way they're going to market it is they're going to turn it over to some good old boys. And those good old boys, you know, whether it's country music stars, or it says athletes who appeal to that audience. You know, I just see somebody like Blake Shelton driving around or one of these trucks and doing an ad for it. And also a lot of a lot of the vehicles give us some credibility.


Christine Barry  20:20

You know what I'll look into it, I'll look for some videos, see if we can get them in the show notes. I want to make it a big conversation about electric vehicles because I do believe in them I do believe they're the future but as a as a rural Democrat, it's like really hard to, I should say as rural liberal really, like really hard to get my head around that electric vehicle being the answer for country roads and farm work.


Garlin Gilchrist II  20:44

Take a look at the Rachel Maddow Show segment that from that night, nearly a half hour on this and she's she drives a pickup. She drives an F 150 and has for many years, and she was all a gaga over this thing. There's also though a little notice potential advanced for Michigan's economy coming out of this announcement that really hasn't been covered much. Ford Motor Company and SK innovation, a Korean company have announced a joint venture to build electric car batteries in the United States. And the car batteries are a lot of the value added. That's where a lot of the profit is and work a lot of the jobs are and right now an awful lot of our batteries and battery components are being imported from China. This is a big deal. This is something Jennifer Granholm has been fighting for now for more than 20 years was to build the battery industry in Michigan. Right now most of the battery industry in the United States is in the state of Michigan, this could be really huge because this is where the r&d is being developed in the United States.


Christine Barry  21:41

Yeah, I remember one of her state of the state addresses she stood up and showed a battery. And some people were you know, rolling their eyes at it not thinking much about it. When her she was in our confirmation hearings that one senator was grilling her about the battery company that was here that he said then was sold to the Chinese. So we invested in China. And that was that was not true. None of that was true. But you know, if anything has been learned in the last year, Walt it has to be how vulnerable The United States is in in terms of supply chain and infrastructure. Because between the pandemic, the blocked canals, the ransomware attacks, it does seem more urgent than ever for US companies to bring supply capabilities and some redundancy, if not in house than at least in the country. And we know that these companies will do it in a way that makes them money. And it brings some good PR through job creation buy American that kind of thing. And that's a good thing. But the part that is focusing on the stability of the supply chain, and our infrastructure seems much more urgent now than just a couple of years ago.


Garlin Gilchrist II  22:53

You know, we could see with what's happening right now with the microchips that the auto industry and other industries can't get right now. And it is resulting in some layoffs. The last thing I'll say about Jennifer Granholm when it comes to batteries, she is just like the Energizer Bunny, she just keeps on going.


Christine Barry  23:12

Well, that Biden event was a win win for both the president and Ford. And it was a special moment for Congresswoman rasheeda to leave. Until now she was branded as being on the fringes of Congress as a member of that far left quote unquote squad. But as the only member of congress of Palestinian descent, that changed. Now, if you recall, Rashida Talib was born in Detroit, but her parents immigrated to the US. She served in our state house, and then she won john conyers seat after he resigned. And of course, she's known for some of the more radical sounding things, she said, we're going to impeach them for all that. And she is, like I said, part of the group that embraces the democratic socialists of America and the Bernie Sanders platforms. So when she had the opportunity, though, to speak to the President, about the conflict in the Middle East, it did elevate her and perhaps bring her into a circle of greater relevance on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. She got roughly eight minutes of talking to him in what appeared to be a very sincere conversation. I mean, it was quite a moment to see the only Palestinian American stand there and talk to a United States President about Israel. And this is somebody who's supported like a one state solution and stuff.


Garlin Gilchrist II  24:35

This is quite a contrast to the previous guy in so many ways. First of all, Joe Biden clearly was listening sincerely, to what Congresswoman totally had to say. And secondly, I was thinking about how the previous guy would have handled trying to get a ceasefire in the Middle East. And I came to the conclusion is that he probably would have put out one or two inflammatory tweets and then said is Son in law over there to try to figure the whole thing out. Joe Biden, on the other hand, engaged in more traditional diplomacy behind the scenes, made countless phone calls to the to the Middle East to talk to the power brokers there, his team was talking to their counterparts over there, and when push came to shove, now it's it's certainly not over by any means. But they got the job done for now there is a ceasefire in place. It's nice to have, we were able to talk to our allies again. I mean, it is just so refreshing to have competence back in the Oval Office,


Christine Barry  25:30

it is easier to sleep knowing that there is a competent person in charge. But I remember in college talking about the Middle East, and one of my friends said, there will never be peace in the Middle East. And I didn't really think I didn't give it that much importance, but I remembered it. And just looking back on that. Now I feel like man I so many people have been killed. I am not. I don't speak about the Middle East because I'm just not. I'm just ignorant of it. And anything I say will sound ignorant. But I do know that far too many people have died over this. And far too many of them are little kids.


Garlin Gilchrist II  26:13

It's like the old Edwin Starr's on war. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Yeah. Okay. The battle over voting rights continues on multiple fronts. In Arizona, where they've got that incredibly insane audit, they call it an audit. It's a sham audit of Maricopa County, the Secretary of State of Arizona, a Republican, by the way, so that Maricopa County because of this audit, and the way it is totally incompetent, cyber ninja company is handling the machinery and everything, they need to toss out all of their voting equipment, because it's no longer secure. You've got no idea how the cyber ninjas may have altered the voting machines, no ideas of how they may have damaged the machines. And that is going to cost the taxpayers of Arizona probably of Maricopa County, untold millions of dollars to replace that equipment, because now, if you want to have doubts about election integrity, they've created a reason to truly doubt the election integrity by compromising this equipment.


Christine Barry  27:16

If that equipment is replaced, you know, some people are going to say that proves that there's fraud because they had to replace the equipment. It's just so stupid that they're still doing this. There's the numbers just don't support the claim that there is a problem. And and here in Michigan, we have, oh my gosh, we have our own problems. 39 voter suppression bills in the Michigan legislature right now. Secretary of State has a breakdown of those bills on the state website, we'll have that in the show notes. 39 voter suppression bills. It's It's crazy.


Garlin Gilchrist II  27:49

One of the most obvious attempts to basically nullify African American voters and urban voters is a bill which would require no longer counting ballots after noon of the day after the election, so that in a county say a large county like Wayne County, all the ballots wouldn't get counted. Because the volumes that large and so many people voting by absentee ballot, there's no way they can get it done by noon the next day. So in effect, you would be denying the right of untold 1000s of people in Wayne County to have their votes counted. And of course, Republicans want this, Joe Biden carried the city of Detroit was something like 95% of the total vote. And that's something they don't like this is the most obvious attempt to rig the election in their favor of anything you can imagine. If this bill had been in effect, this last election, Joe Biden would not have won Michigan, because of course, whose margin was provided in large part by his margin in Wayne County. And they didn't finish the vote, counting and for a couple of days, because the volume, which is so great, and that's just one out of 39 there's so many of them that are just so horrific. You say though there's no problem that needs to be fixed. Actually, there is a problem. The problem isn't the law. The problem isn't the conduct of the elections. The problem is a former president of the United States campaigning incessantly for months, to tell them that it was rigged. They need to fix the problem. And the problem could be fixed by getting Donald Trump to shut up. Pure and simple. He is the problem. It's not the law.


Christine Barry  29:22

Well, that's part of it. But I think we've seen just in so many different ways, where Trump as a symbol, doesn't matter if he comes out now. And well, if he shuts up or if he comes out and says there was no election fraud at all. It's been shown that and we just didn't do a good enough job. He could come out and actually be a human and say those things, and people still wouldn't believe it. They're in their minds. It would have just been, oh my god, they got to Trump. And they would still believe there was fraud, because like as a symbol, he means more than whatever comes out of his stupid face.


Garlin Gilchrist II  29:59

Yeah, and In Antrim County, a circuit court judge by the name of Kevin ellsen heimer is thrown out of court once again, any claims that the election and then from County was compromised in any way. Although nationally, a lot of the true believers continue to cite it because they're being lied to by their leaders. And if anybody doubts judge on Alzheimer's allegiances, he's a former Republican member of the Michigan legislature. Still in the background, state Republicans have a plan to bypass both the governor and the voters using a constitutional loophole to enact a law by simply gathering the signatures of 5% or so of all Michigan residents. One of the people looking on this loophole with alarm is longtime state capitol journalist of my good friend john Lindstrom, he's covered Michigan government for more than 40 years. And we've talked over the weekend.


Walt Sorg  30:49

john was such a pleasure to have you on the Policast. So you and I go way, way back since the 1970s, hanging around the state capitol, watching the good things and the bad things about state government. And I think one thing we agree on is that one of the very bad things is this loophole in the state constitution, which allows for the legislature to completely bypass the democratic process and jam through any law they want. All it takes is a few million dollars to collect signatures.


John Lindstrom  31:20

And that is certainly developed into one of the very bad things but yeah, initially, I think people took people honestly and they they expected that this would, wouldn't be a problem. But we have seen over the years, that there are an awful lot of very wealthy people who if they have an issue that they want to, they want to get on the ballot or or get passed, they can they can fund a petition signature campaign we had that some years ago with bear hunting. rich guy was opposed to bear hunting. So he financed the petition in this state to get it banned. The Constitution takes the premise that if you have signatures of registered voters, equivalent to 10% of the total vote for governor and the previous gubernatorial election, then that speaks to the will of the people. That means all the people want this put into place in theory anyway, it has been increasingly abused. In most recent years now, of course, Republicans have controlled the legislature during that timeframe. But that's not to say that if the situation were reversed, and democrats want to move something that they couldn't get through past a republican governor that they might not try the same thing. It's it's one of those things where I think that when you have a proposal, and you've gathered the petition signatures, then things should go to the people to vote on. They should make the being the final decider on on this issue.


Garlin Gilchrist II  32:47

You have a situation as well with the legislature being able to further abuse this process with what's been known as adopt and amend.


John Lindstrom  32:57

Yeah, that's a new one. And, and that one is really, really tricky. The history behind that is in 2018, there was a proposal that in fact, the petition signature organizers wanted to go to the voters and and there's there's no question why they wanted to help boost turnout in the 2018 election. And they had proposals to increase the minimum wage on a schedule up to $15 an hour and to require that corporations provide sick time to their employees. What the legislature did is they adopted the proposals, they passed them they it became then law.


Walt Sorg  33:34

So again, there was no referendum on it.


John Lindstrom  33:37

There was no referendum. It was simply set it was simply passed. And And interestingly, the supporters before the legislature passed it urged them to just put it on the ballot and and let it go before the people. Well, the legislature then passed it. This was in the the final months of Governor Snyder's administration and the republicans were held on to the legislature. Everyone knew what the intent was. And that intent was to change the bills change the change the new law. And and here's the kicker, if a proposal goes to the people, and is passed, it can only be amended or repealed by the legislature on a three fourths majority, a super majority. That's a lot of votes like 88 in the house, and I forget about 30 on the Senate, if it is not if it does not go on the ballot, and it is passed into law, then in effect, it is like any other law and it can be amended and repealed if need be, or if desired by a majority of those elected and serving so 56 in the house and 20 in the Senate. That is what they did. Now the question came down to could you actually amend the bill to change its intent. The intent was that there'd be a schedule to increase raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and do so relatively quickly. I think it was by 2022, if I remember correctly, and then on sick time, an active schedule on which sick time would be enacted. What then Attorney General Bill Schuette did was initially issue and opinion saying that the legislature could amend those provisions, but in effect, they still had to stay within the meaning of the Act. So that's what they did. They amended it, there's still a schedule to increase the minimum wage, but it sets it way out. I mean, back I think that will hit $15 an hour by about 2030. And the sick time provisions remain, but they are very, very weak and effect. So legally, is they they still stayed within the meaning of the statute. But clearly, the meaning of the statute has been changed all around. There's been arguments, they've pushed on Attorney General Nestle, to review that, that opinion and change that opinion. So far, she has not acted on it. There's now even a court case to challenge the meaning of that opinion. We'll see what happens with that, you know, to avoid this kind of shenanigans, and you can even argue outright malice in the intent of the legislature, the best thing to do is to amend the provision all together and take that permission to let the legislature enact that petition into law. And it is not subject to a gubernatorial veto. Just take that away and say it has to go to the voters, the voters like the provision, they'll pass it if they don't like the provision, they'll vote against it.


Garlin Gilchrist II  36:39

I know when we were putting together the constitutional amendment on redistricting, one of the things we took into account was a lot of people complaining at our town halls about this very tactic by the legislature. As a result, rather than taking our petition drive and making it just a simple change in law. We wrote a very detailed constitutional amendment, because people didn't trust the legislature to deal in good faith with anything they passed. Seems to me that the that's that's another blow to democratic, small rule of government, when people simply don't trust the process to do what it's supposed to do. The Constitution starts with the words all political power is inherent in the people. And if you're not careful, that's not true.


John Lindstrom  37:21

I myself, I'm very, very cautious in voting on on constitutional amendments. I did vote for the voters, not politicians. amendment simply because I had seen what had gone on with redistricting and I thought that needed to be changed.


Walt Sorg  37:35

I know where you live. So you were –


John Lindstrom  37:39

Yeah, I have to admit, and I do that they're saying things in that proposal, I wouldn't change myself. But that's me. There are some other things which have been added to the Constitution, one of which I did vote for, which, in reality, shouldn't have been in the constitution just shouldn't have had to be in the Constitution. But again, I think these, this was a situation where the supporters of the proposal and I'm specifically talking about the Constitutional Amendment, which authorizes the use of stem cells and research in this state, that the authors of the amendment decided they couldn't trust legislature, on if they if they did a citizen's initiative, and presented it to the legislature that they wouldn't pass it at that time, and either repeal it or amended. So if that loophole was was powerful enough that they thought we have to go for a constitutional amendment, which of course was adopted. But again, as I say, you know, you read through the constitution that's supposed to deal with overall principles that one seems or two, that you have a very specific thing dealing with the question of research on what could be life saving and life changing medical advances. But again, I think it's because of the issue with the Constitution. So I think that that is, as another argument for changing the constitution to avoid that, because you could theoretically have a lot of this kind of stuff being added to the Constitution, things that just simply are not constitutional worthy. They should be handled as statutes as laws, not not constitutional principles.


Garlin Gilchrist II  39:16

The other unintended consequences of this being put into our Constitution. It was intended to be a an allowance for the voters, the grassroots to make changes, and it was made very difficult. And I know from having been there, that if you're truly a grassroots group, collecting those signatures, and getting it on the ballot is tough. But if you've got a lot of money, it's a piece of cake.


John Lindstrom  39:39

It's you know, I'm sure people are familiar with, you know, going someplace in here, you got some guys incredibly, for example, here in the Lansing or the Wharton center, to go to a play or show or concert Do you pull into the parking garage? If it's the signature gathering time, here's some chap who has got like 10 or 15 different petitions laid out depending on the areas and they'll say, where do you live. And if you say you live in East Lansing, or you live in Lansing, or you live in openness, he hands you a petition and says here, you know, this is what we're trying to do once you sign this for us. And these guys get paid,


Walt Sorg  40:16

and they're under no obligation to tell you the truth about what's in a petition.


John Lindstrom  40:20

No they're not I mean, you have to have the opportunity to read the petition. But some of the petitions are quite lengthy and very complex. And yes, there have been situations where there was a big controversy you and I will remember it over something called reformed Michigan government now, about 12-13 years ago, and this was something actually created by our friend Mark Brewer and other Democrats, and this was a massive rewrite of many, many sections of the Constitution is so much so that the the Supreme Court held that it it was not envisioned by the Constitution that in effect, what they were calling for, was was something that should only be handled by a constitutional convention. The distributors of these petitions, several friends of mine talked about, you know, they go to the library, and somebody would say, Would you sign a petition dealing with legislative pay, which was a provision in the proposal, but they didn't get into all of the many other proposals that dealt with various functions of how the government was going to work at all. All it was was, do you want to deal with something dealing with legislative pay? You mentioned prevailing wage, and was a controversy involving one of their efforts and seven petition signatures. Of course, in their case, the prevailing wage case, there was a situation where there was actually names made up and added to the petitions,


Garlin Gilchrist II  41:35

they also get paid people to sign the petition. This is a petition to give more money to our schools.


John Lindstrom  41:41

Yes, that's true. They did, they did. So I mean, you know, you you, you find yourself in a situation where, you know, again, if you're not going to read a petition, and and honest to God, if you're coming out of the grocery store, which is where a lot of these people will be located or Home Depot, which is where I've been, people have asked me to sign petitions, do you have the time? Are you going to stand there and take the five or 10 minutes, they may require to read through the petition to actually know what it is you're signing? If you've if you stay current with the news. And you understand that people are distributing petitions on a particular issue? Well, then you might know enough on your own design. But an awful lot of people, as you and I know are not current on the news. They are not following what's going on. And so you can come up to them and say this deals with money for the school. So this deals with equal rights, and this deals with legislative pay. And they may just go say, Okay, I'm good for that. I'll do that.


Garlin Gilchrist II  42:37

John we can continue this conversation for hours, which we probably shall add some nearby bar in the near future. I thank you so much for joining us on the Policast.


John Lindstrom  42:45

You're welcome. Thank you.


Christine Barry  42:47

And our thanks to john Lindstrom for his insights that is a guy I admire so much. I just really appreciate him joining the show, Walt. So thank you for that.


Walt Sorg  42:55

He'll be back. He'll be back.


Christine Barry  42:57

That's good. That's good. The US House voted to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 Riot nine of Michigan's 14 House members supported the inquiry, and Oakland County Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin believes that Republicans are fearful of getting the entire story out


Rashida Tlaib  43:18

the idea that he said aloud that were there are senators who are worried about voting for this because they're scared it will get weaponized in an election. I mean, this is the time where you put on your big boy pants and you do what you need to do for the country, like the country needs to understand what happened on January 6, so that it doesn't happen again. And I guess maybe it's because I'm from a very independently minded district, I don't give a lot of credit to people who are scared of their base. And that keeps them from doing the right thing for the country. I'm sorry that the midterms are something that are you know, prohibiting people from doing the right thing. But I don't accept that as an excuse.


Christine Barry  43:53

That view is shared by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell



Republican leadership work this bill very hard. I had colleagues from Michigan who felt the detroit news that they were leaning towards voting it at their arms broken and didn't vote for it. This is a day of infamy quite frankly, for democracy. And it we just we have to figure out how it happened to make sure it never ever, ever happens again. By the way, another good reason to look at the filibuster. Why does it take 60 votes to get anything done in the United States Senate.


Garlin Gilchrist II  44:29

Amen on that. Debbie Dingell, by the way, was hospitalized for emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer The day after that interview on msnbc. And she reports now she did an interview over the weekend with a radio station in Detroit, indicating that she's doing just fine and we'll be out of the hospital in a couple of days. Of course, our best wishes to Debbie Dingell for full recovery. Despite the heavy hand of the Republican leadership in the house to Michigan republicans voted yes on the bill Fred Upton Peter Meyer, both of whom, of course, also voted to impeach the former president Meyer spoke on the House floor and shared video of his speech with his constituents on his Twitter page, because he's not running away from this issue.


Peter Meijer  45:12

The imperative to have a public objective fact based investigation of the Capitol tech is not a partisan issue. And it should never be treated as such that this mob attacked the Capitol with the encouragement of prominent elected officials a chilling reminder of President Reagan's warning that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. Unfortunately, many who rightly criticized and condemned the attack that they have walked back their words are softened their speech. But even more troubling, there has been an active effort to whitewash and rewrite the shameful events of that day to avoid accountability and turn away from difficult truths.


Walt Sorg  45:46

Meyer was interviewed also over the weekend on CNN on State of the Union, I would have pulled an excerpt from it, but the whole interview is very good, highly recommend it. There's a link to that interview on our website, on our sister podcast A Republic, if you Can Keep It, longtime top tier republican campaign consultant, Steve Schmidt, you remember him he was john mccain's campaign manager. He went one step further than Slotkin or Dingell, he said, a lot of Republicans aren't just afraid of this for political reasons, because of the impact on the midterm elections. But also because they weren't just targets of the insurrection, they helped make it happen.


Steve Schmidt  46:23

I don't know what the number is. But I promise you, the number is more than 10 members of Congress, when they do a thorough investigation about what happened on the sex, we'll have been in constant communication with the insurrectionist with the people who came and beat policemen and, and we would find all of that out. I don't know if that number is 10 members of the Republican conference, or it's 32 members of the Republican conference, but it's some number that genda double digits, which shocked at the conscience. They're utterly scared to death of it.


Garlin Gilchrist II  46:57

And they should be the cuckoo caucus. I wouldn't put anything past them. Because they are just that you've got the thing that from Georgia, comparing the wearing of masks on the House floor, to the branding of Jews with a yellow star prior to the beginning of the Holocaust. I mean, how absurd can you get that's just it's just totally disgusting. But I gotta tell you, Christie in the speech I love the most. And I know it's gone viral. And a lot of people have already seen it. But I really wanted to play an excerpt again. And that is congressman Tim Ryan. During the debate on this bill, the congressman from Ohio is going to be running for the United States Senate


Tim Ryan  47:34

Holy cow. incoherence. No idea what you're talking about Ben Ghazi you guys Chase, the former Secretary of State all over the country, spent millions of dollars we have people scaling the Capitol hitting the Capitol Police with lead pipes across the head, and we can't get bipartisanship. What else has to happen in this country? Cops, this is a slap in the face to every rank and file cop in the United States. If we're going to take on China, if we're going to rebuild the country, if we're going to reverse climate change, we need two political parties in this country that are both living in reality, and you ain't one of them.


Walt Sorg  48:18

What more can you say? That pretty much sums it Oh,


Christine Barry  48:21

good lord day whose people they start saying that it was tourists and things got out of hand. Are you kidding me? These people were wearing Trump flags like capes. They're lunatics. I kind of chuckled earlier in the show. when I had mentioned the riot because I was thinking I can't believe that people are trying to deny that this is what it what it was. But there you have it. Now, one other point I wanted to make Steve Schmidt also pointed out that Liz Cheney voted with Trump 90% of the time. And as you know, Liz Cheney has lost her as her leadership position in the caucus. Republicans turned against her not because of policy, but because of her lack of support of the cult of Trump. So Schmidt makes a compelling argument about what's going to happen if the republicans do take power next year. This is on the Lincoln Project website. And I will go ahead and have a link to it. It's a really, really good read.


Garlin Gilchrist II  49:22

If the republicans take the House of Representatives and 22 they will vote to impeach Joe Biden, and they will come up with some cock and bull story to justify the impeachment. And it's going to be even worse than the clinton impeachment which was pretty ridiculous to begin with. Let's move on. And go back to the state capitol. Some of the things that are going on there in the world of political insanity.


Christine Barry  49:44

Yes, another stupid fight started by the childlike republicans in the legislature. First of all, they want to create a $20 million fund for defense attorneys who are working for state employees. And this is likely due to the fact that Rick Snyder and And some of his administration are facing charges for their roles in the poisoning of Flint. Now there are some Democrats who do agree that employees of the state who are facing charges for work they did on behalf of the state should be defended by the state. I don't agree with that. I think it's best that people understand that if they violate a law, or they knowingly create a crisis, so they can benefit politically, they should have to defend themselves. If the state has to defend something, it should be the state that's being sued. And the AG's office should be involved. And if there are criminal charges, I don't think the state commits crimes, but individuals do, I don't know. But that $20 million fund is about 19% of the budget that they proposed for the Attorney General. Now alongside this, they're also changing the way the attorney general budget works so that they can control what happens in her office. What they're doing is changing various line items and so on. So instead of having say a big line item for a particular budget, they're breaking it down into very specific things. But at least in the senate are looking at giving her an annual budget, the House Republicans are more aggressive. they're proposing only a quarterly budget. And they're very detailed. They're talking about what can be spent on PFAS what can be spent on sexual assault, what can be spent on human trafficking. It's nuts. And finally a third bill proposed by my guy Tom Barrett, this is just gross would require the governor to notify lawmakers when she's leaving the state and this is stupid Walt.


Walt Sorg  51:32

it's unconstitutional.


Christine Barry  51:33

There's always a governor in place. These are the same lawmakers who take pictures and attend fundraising events with people who plan to kill her. It's unprecedented. And it's just baby stuff. Yeah.


Walt Sorg  51:46

Anyone know when the governor leaves the state, the Lieutenant Governor becomes the Acting Governor of Michigan. It happens all the time when george romney way back when he was running for president. Bill Milliken was the Acting Governor of Michigan a lot. There was even a situation during the Milliken administration where both Milliken and his lieutenant governor Jim brickley left and the Secretary of State was the Acting Governor. It's set up in the constitution this way this bill is total political circus and nothing else.


Walt Sorg  52:14

And on the limiting of the budget of the Attorney General, one of the areas where the legislature wants to cut funding, the Attorney General's efforts to go after people who abuse and neglect children and also her efforts to prosecute clergy who abuse children. Apparently they think those two things are okay. The No need even to comment on that how absurd that is. Speaking of political nut cases, our very own co chair of the Michigan Republican Party me Sean Maddock is getting some heat right now for a post on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, nine days ago, actually, as we record this, calling for Michigan to secede from the United States, I guess she's got a picture on a series of pictures on there with Nigel Faraj, who led the Brexit movement in England were Brexit pulled out of the European Union. And she said maybe it's time for MI exit America's tried it once before. It was called the Civil War. Time to end our Governor's tyrannical rule. Hashtag Nigel Faraj. Again, what more needs to be said, she is certainly a piece of work.


Christine Barry  53:23

Oh, well, you know what if it was ME exit? That'd be great. You know, I totally support MeShawn leaving. So I would be glad for that. But I like what lavoro Barnes had to say about that. Michigan republicans will call for anything and be seen with anyone, regardless of the harm it may do to push to pursue their goal of undermining Whitmer. And I paraphrase that a little bit I have the actual quote the actual quote a little bit longer. But that's that's, that sums it up right there don't do anything. How embarrassing.


Garlin Gilchrist II  53:57

I'd at least think twice if she'd called for us to become a part of Canada. But that's a different story for different not only kidding, but they do have universal health care in Canada, and they're much more polite than the rest of the United States. So a another wing nut story we've got we got all sorts of the cuckoo caucus in the news these days. Another candidate


Christine Barry  54:18

for governor doozy This is a doozy. Okay, this is Tudor Dixon. She's a conservative media personality. And she announced that she would be running for governor she announced on fox news as you do. Her platform is that she doesn't like the governor. Her pronouns are she and her. Now she didn't say that. But you should ask her about that on Twitter, and see what happens. As I think that would be funny. But yeah, she's not. I mean, there's just that's it. There's no there's no platform. I don't think she really goes anywhere. Maybe she does. She has a voice.


Garlin Gilchrist II  54:56

You know, this republic is really shaping up to be a doozy. Why don't we do some good news? Sounds great. Okay, first of all, the governor and the legislature have finally come to an agreement on a bunch of things relating to the budget and also to COVID-19. The governor has agreed to back off from some permanent workplace rules relating to the pandemic for COVID-19, which is something that republicans wanted, given the state of the effectiveness of the vaccine, everything that's going on, it was kind of an easy concession for her to make, I think she probably would have done it even without pressure from the legislature. But we can call that a joint victory for both the legislature and the governor, just to keep them quiet. They've also made peace on the budget. And the republicans have graciously allowed the governor to participate in discussions leading up to passage of budget bills, something that you would think would be kind of automatic, but she's been pretty much shut out on budget talks. So they've been passing bills, the CI vetoes and sends it back. And we've talked about this tennis match before. So there is progress there. And it's especially important because they've got lots of money, in addition to the billions that are coming in from the federal stimulus, but $6 billion for the state as well as 4 billion for locals, the state now is collecting a lot more money in tax revenue than was anticipated to the tune of about $2 billion this year and a billion and a half next year, that can fix a lot of roads, it can restore a lot of cuts to school districts or to revenue sharing. I mean, there's a lot of need out there. And you have this much additional revenue without having a tax increases. Good news for everybody.


Christine Barry  56:35

It is it's great. And when I first looked at this, I was a bit taken aback because the republican narrative coming out of it was that they had won this huge victory. And they totally dominated everything. And then I actually looked at what was going on. And I'm like, well, this is this is actually a win for Michigan, I think, you know, now we can move on. I think we were at a place with COVID, where we had done almost all the work we had to do anyway. I mean, as far as policy, restrictions, mitigation, that kind of thing. And now it's time to get that, that money into play. So I don't know, you know, what kind of space they're willing to give her at the quote unquote, table. But it's good that we're just moving forward.


Garlin Gilchrist II  57:24

Also related to that budget deal. And the total state of government economics in Michigan is all that federal money that's coming in for the local governments. And some words of caution. At a webinar organized by msus Institute of Public Policy and social research, municipal finance experts caution local governments about the difference between spending and investing. Eric ludolph is executive director of the nonpartisan and highly respected citizens Research Council of Michigan.


Eric Lupher  57:54

There's not a clear prohibition, but a strong advisory from groups like ours and others that it should not be used for ongoing projects. This money is very temporary, it's going to come in in two phases, but then it goes away. There's very slim chance unless we have a COVID 2022, something like that, that there's not going to be extra money coming. So don't build your budget on having this money long term.


Eric Lupher  58:22

And, Christine, you've got some good news in the education world for the state of Michigan.


Christine Barry  58:26

Yes, it's really exciting. Actually, Governor Whitmer's education incentives are working over 70,000 people have applied for Michigan reconnect, which is a tuition free community college education, and another 120,000 residents who are frontline workers in the early and most dangerous months of the pandemic have applied for a separate free tuition program. And that was rolled out specifically for them as a benefit for the dangerous work that they were doing. These numbers exceed what what was expected and that is super exciting to see so many people hungry for an education. And to see that the state is is doing it actually is just awesome.


Garlin Gilchrist II  59:10

It's a tremendous investment in Michigan's future. An educated workforce is a more prosperous and productive workforce. It's really simple. And spending 510 $15,000 to help somebody get a two year degree seems to me one of the easiest things that we could do it are really good Michigan's economy long term


Christine Barry  59:28

and a two year degree can provide a really good quality of living. Yeah.


Garlin Gilchrist II  59:33

High five figures easily. Registered Nurse welder, auto mechanic. I mean, there's a lot of hands on things blue collar jobs that pay really well if you've got that additional training. Finally this week, the Michigan Supreme Court has agreed to take up a petition for relief by the state's redistricting panel. They want a three month extension of the deadline to publicize and print the legislative and congressional That would be used in 2022. That of course, because the census data has been delayed, and this puts the Supreme Court in a really awkward place, they in effect would be overturning the constitution on a temporary basis. And I think the only way they could do that would be to say there's a superseding federal issue of one person, one vote that if they don't wait, that one person, one vote, which is mandated by the Federal Constitution and supreme US Supreme Court rulings would be subverted by using incomplete or out of date data. For drawing the maps. It's a tough call for the court Republicans have filed a lawsuit which sympathizes with the claim of the Secretary of State and the redistricting panel, but at the same time, says the supreme court does not have it within its power to suspend the Michigan constitution. Actually, I think they probably do if they base it on the Federal Constitution, which supersedes anything in the Michigan constitution. But that's going to be a very interesting rolling when it comes up, I would not venture a guess as to where they're gonna go.


Christine Barry  1:01:02

Well, on that happy note, you want to call it a day,


Walt Sorg  1:01:05

Yeah let's call it a day.


Christine Barry  1:01:06

Well, we've got links to everything that we've talked about in our show notes. So if you have any questions, you want to fact check us in anything, you can go to www dot Michigan and see where we're getting our information. Plus, I'll see if I could get some sort of video evidence that shows that you don't have to push Fords down the road. The electric engine does work. Please take a moment to rate the podcast if you liked it. on itunes, so that it helps us with our rankings. We appreciate it.


Garlin Gilchrist II  1:01:36

And make sure you subscribe to our sister podcast a republic if you couldn't keep it with longtime Michigan political insiders Jeff Timur and Mark Brewer. Their guest this week will be the senior member of Michigan's congressional delegation. When democrat Dan told me, you can find their podcast wherever you get your podcasts including wherever you got this one.


Christine Barry  1:01:55

And that's it for this week. Thank you so much for joining us. We'll see you next week.



The Michigan Policast with Christine Barry and Walt Sorg is a production of Michigan citizens for a better tomorrow.


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