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.

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