Bill Schuette, Flint, Rick Snyder — May 31, 2017 at 9:42 pm

Michigan needs a legislature of and for the people, not Calley’s corporate cronies


Conservative hopes to cash in by promising Lansing to the lobbyists

You could argue that Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and I just have a slight difference of opinion.

Calley is proposing a ballot initiative that would amend the state’s constitution to give the state legislature most of the year off. I’d rather give most of this legislature — all of the Republican majority, in fact — the entire year off.

Hell, if it were up to me, these sad bags of flesh would never work in anything resembling public service again. And I ‘d encourage Rick Snyder to pack his buddy Calley in a child seat before he zooms off on the getaway from our state the ex-governor will almost certainty make the moment he’s done with his second term.

The Republican Party acts as if we aren’t aware that its dominance of our state’s government since 2011 has led to the poisoning of our seventh-largest city. Amidst a myriad of other failures, only cloaked by the success of President Obama’s auto rescue and Medicaid expansion, Michigan’s schools have seen the worst test score gains in America.

Obviously, these massive failures weren’t the result of an overactive government too involved in everybody’s business, but the opposite. Michigan’s GOP is a party that has been captured by corporate interests and immune to any serious oversight by voters, thanks to its built-in advantages from gerrymandering and billionaire backers.

Conservatives always attack government’s ability to function as they seek employment in it. But our legislature is a uniquely safe target for Calley, who is nearly indistinguishable in his lack of charm and admirable accomplishments from his chief rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination Bill Schuette.

Instead of fixing our roads or making a reasonable effort to get Flint water they can drink from the tap, our state lawmakers have fixated on more giveaways for the rich and a bill that bans banning plastic bags.

By backing this corporatist wet dream in front of the state’s political elite at the Mackinac Policy Conference , Calley hopes to raise his profile among special interests and kickstart his fundraising. But his plan to have our legislature meet only 90 days a year would, as Michigan Radio‘s Jack Lessenberry notes, do the nearly impossible — it would make our situation in Michigan even worse:

Since they could only meet for a few weeks every year, and wouldn’t be paid enough to live on, all our lawmakers would have to be retired or have full-time jobs. Not many jobs allow you to take off for a few weeks every so often.

Nor is anyone going to seriously cripple their career for a part-time political job that can only last six to eight years. So what we would get is incompetents and lobbyists. This would also amount to a serious transfer of power away from the people’s directly elected representatives to the governor and, especially, the special interests.

This plan would cut out the middle man and transition Michigan directly to a government of, by and for the lobbyists.

The notion of public service seems quaint in a era where the president of the United States’ only preparation for his job was avoiding taxes and stealing the valor of other generous donors, but we need to be doing more to Michigan’s government transparent and responsive to the people. Not less.

Brian Calley may look forward to our representatives copying and pasting legislation from anti-worker and fundamentalist “think tanks” even more often than they do now.

But here’s a wild idea: How about we elect people who want to work full-time on the behalf of the people? It would a nice change from the last 7 years in this state.

[Photo by Bill Rice | Flickr]