Archive for February, 2019

Walls and Bridges

Walls and Bridges

It’s true. Michigan is building a new bridge with Canada — the Gordie Howe Bridge between Detroit and Windsor. And Canada is indeed paying for it. In fact, credit where credit is due, that’s how Governor Snyder made the deal happen — with his own kind of end run around a legislature reluctant to fund it. (The legislative branch constitutionally must appropriate funds, but Canada is taking care of the up front costs.)

That’s mostly where similarities end between the bridge and the wall with Mexico. The bridge is a bridge: a forward-looking, economically positive structure designed to promote commerce and connection among neighbors. The wall is, well, it’s hard to tell what the heck that is. A 30 foot concrete barrier from “sea to shining sea”? A series of steel slats in specific locations? A metaphor to stoke dread and fear? Whatever, a wall is generally not intended to promote commerce and connection among neighbors.

I juxtapose the bridge and the wall not for the parallels, but for the differences. With the President intent on pursuing a decidedly negative agenda, elsewhere in America (specifically here in Michigan) forward-looking efforts continue to develop. And not only forward-looking, but fully constitutional as well! Oh there is so much we can help you with, Mr. President. I guess we’ll see you in court so we can talk about it.

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The Promise for Michigan Government Transparency

I can tell you that the cartoon this week is not partisan, but that’s really for you to decide. On the surface, it’s me quoting the current Democrat leader directly and without comment, then dinging the two previous Republican leaders. But I had a deeper aim. It all started with Governor Whitmer’s state-of-the-state address this week.

As far are “state-of” speeches go, it was pretty standard fare — a laundry list of goals and intentions. For an editorial cartoon, that’s really not much to work with. But the one point that really resonated with me was her promise (and I heard it as a promise) to make the executive and legislative branches accountable to the freedom of information act (FOIA).

It occurred to me that the disasters Michigan has faced in the recent past have all been made much, much worse from leaders trying to manage and hide information: Flint Water crisis, Detroit schools, campaign finance laws, Larry Nassar, to name a few.

And while former Governor Rick Snyder former Senate Leader Arlan Meekhof are obviously not solely to blame, they were certainly among the least transparent leaders Michigan has ever had. And that’s what I’m calling them out on — not their party affiliation, but their actual record.

So let’s make a point of remembering the FOIA part of Whitmer’s address. Because often the one making the promise turns into the worst offender. (“Drain the swamp” anyone?) If the governor is ambitious enough to promise transparency, we need to be ambitious enough to hold her accountable.


An Analogy for the Trumpian Political Culture

An Analogy for Our Trumpian Political Culture

It appears the snow has finally stopped falling here in West Michigan. In a day or two it is supposed to turn reasonably warm enough for me to attend to the non-priority snow removal issues — the roof, patios, walkways. Before the rains come. And then the next freeze cycle. Oy!

In the meantime, the driveway and the front walk aren’t gonna clear themselves. This has been proven out over and over this week. If you need me, I’ll be outside.