Flint Water Fiasco

Who Rules Michigan?

The Administrative State or the People?

The titanic political struggle unfolding in Washington is sucking the oxygen out of Michigan politics, but is analogous to the central political struggle which has been playing out here in Michigan for 48 years. Political media breathlessly report on a struggle between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans. This struggle is not between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, nor RINOs and true believers. The Democrats, liberals, and RINOs are completely discredited in Michigan, as they are across most of the United States. All that remains of them is jammed into the Hillary archipelago.

The present political struggle is between the people and the administrative state. Call it bureaucracy, deep state, or administrative state: they are unelected government employees, their agents in the media, and the select beneficiaries of government largess. Their opponents in this struggle are the majority of Americans and Michiganders who pay the price for the administrative state; a now seething mass whose ascendancy was a rude surprise to the administrative state.

The outcome of the struggle in Washington is yet to be determined, but in Michigan the administrative state is clearly winning despite its total responsibility for the Flint water fiasco. The administrative state owns Governor Snyder body and soul. The administrative state will stop at nothing to manipulate the Michigan Legislature when the chips are down. Refractory (but innocent) legislators are expelled before legal process while cooperative (but guilty) legislators sit unfettered until legal process is completed.

How else can you explain the PA 177 of 2015 road tax package, indistinguishable from the soundly trounced Proposal 2015-01? Or the bogus Detroit bankruptcy which somehow neglected a $ 491 million financial hole which will haunt the city with a vengeance in 2024? Half the city’s annual budget. Or the refusal of Michigan government units at all levels to even consider tax reductions due to the simmering public employee pension catastrophe? Those pensions enjoyed by members of the administrative state are but a distant memory to the Michiganders who pay them.  Indeed, all of Michigan’s units of government are jacking up fees to get around Headlee Amendment taxation limits.

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Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste

Flint Lead Remediation Effort Morphs Into An Attack On Hunting, Target Shooting, Fishing, And Even Churches

brian-calley

Michigan’s elites have clearly not absorbed the lesson of November 8th, yet.

The Michigan’s Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board issued their final report last week. Chairman Brian Calley and his team of 14 politicians experts were empanelled by Executive Order 2016-09 to demonstrate that Governor Snyder actually cared about the Flint children exposed to lead, by his previously empanelled team of professional incompetents experts. The CLPEB’s recommendations are a liberal wish list of expensive dreams mostly unrelated to the underlying cause of the Flint water fiasco: government incompetence.

But the CLPEB did put forth the effort to launch an attack on hunting, target shooting, sport fishing, and even religion. Recommended on page 22 of their final report:

Prohibit lead in fishing tackle, establish a fishing tackle trade-in program to encourage consumers and industries to transition away from lead-based tackle, and encourage further study of lead in fishing tackle.

Establish regulations to protect against lead exposures through the use of firearms by:

o Establishing an ammunition trade-in program.
o Establishing a wild game meat testing program for donated products.
o Developing a health education program and public education materials for lead exposures in hunting and wild game consumption.

Recommended on page 26 of their final report:

In post-1978 homes, dust, soil, and water testing should be conducted at the time of transfer of the property or upon the occurrence of some other reliable event, or whenever there are indications of a high-risk activity, such as stained-glass window work or ammunition reloading, being done in the home.

Here we have the elites punishing their subjects for the mistakes of the elites. Michigan government at its finest.

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Same As It Ever Was

Why would we expect anything else from the party of Clinton?

Flint Water ImageDemocrats have been screaming about Republican leadership’s failure on the Flint water issue.

While we have no overreaching love for the governerd, who brought us expansion of Obamacare, lost our insurer of last resort, broke the law for his ‘roads’ funding boondoggle, and still hands out money like its not his own, it was not Rick Snyder who put lead in the pipes of Flint.  He took credit for the failure of his bureaucracy to properly assess a fast developing public health issue, but he surely did not cause the problem.

Was it the bureaucracy itself?  Yes.  Decades of poor decision making by those who have by hook or crook made their life’s work to be the decimation of ‘Buick City.’  Poor planning and perhaps a little power mongering graft?  From Reuters:

“Henderson’s lawsuit alleged that Mayor Karen Weaver ordered her assistant and a volunteer to redirect donors from a local fund set up to help families affected by the water crisis to her political action committee instead.

The lawsuit charged that the city employee was “specifically directed” to instruct people “step-by-step” to donate to the mayor’s “Karenabout Flint” fund through its website, rather than the Charity Safe Water/Safe Homes fund through the city’s website.

Sure thing.

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Bad Optics = Serious Political Jeopardy

Proper Prior Political Planning Prevents..............

Snyder ImageOur zillionaire Governor is hitting up the Michigan Treasury for $ 1.5 million to cover the cost of really excellent lawyers who are mounting his criminal defense in the Flint water fiasco. Yesterday, he suggested that the two MDEQ employees criminally charged in the Flint water fiasco will no longer receive State paid legal representation. The State had been paying for outside counsel for Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby since AG Schuette stripped them of direct state assistant AG legal counsel in February.

Apparently, the distinction here is actually being criminally charged. Snyder hasn’t been, but Busch and Prysby just got charged.. AG Schuette could not resist piling on with the same common law misconduct in office felony charge used against Courser and Gamrat, but the actual substance of the statutory charges here are lying and tampering with evidence.

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21st Century Education Commission

This Summer's Dog and Pony Shows Commence With A Brazen Common Core Promotion

Dog and Poney Show Image 4Governor Snyder announced his 21st Century Education Commission in Executive Order 2016-6 last week. According to his press release:

“The commission will be responsible for analyzing top performing education systems in the nation, identifying issues impacting Michigan’s academic success, and recommending changes to restructure Michigan’s education system.”

You will be forgiven for harboring suspicions that this is another vehicle to promote Common Core. It is. Same type of political сове́т that did such a fine job promoting Proposal 2015-01.  Remember TAMC?  This playbook is getting old.

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RICO !!!

It's Spring and Lawsuits Are Busting Out All Over

Blind Justice Image 3Just a few short weeks ago, it appeared that the Presidential race and State House elections would dominate political news in Michigan for the rest of the year. Now it appears that courtrooms in Detroit and Lansing will provide compelling political drama as well. Drama which is going to cost Michigan taxpayers a bunch of money.

There have been a number of lawsuits filed over the Flint water fiasco (over 71!), but yesterday a consortium of law firms filed a Federal class action lawsuit on behalf of Flint residents using the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. This represents a whole new level of legal pain. Civil RICO provides for treble damages when a pattern of racketeering is proven to have occurred over time. It also guarantees the plaintiffs’ lawyers fees, a small fact which assures that civil RICO lawsuits will be pursued with enthusiasm to the bitter end. Conviction applies the stigma of typical previous RICO defendants, such as mobsters and drug kingpins, to a losing defendant. Michigan, at large, is a defendant in this suit. Capisce?

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An Ill Portent From Michigan’s Presidential Primary

Massive Democratic Turnout on March 8th Puts Control of the Michigan House in Play

Dead Elephant Image 4aYesterday’s Presidential primary in Michigan broke the participation record set back in 1972’s Presidential primary – both in absolute terms and as a percentage of registered voters participating. While the League of Women Voters types will laud this, the establishments in both the Republican and Democratic Parties are flummoxed. Donald Trump crushed John Kasich and Bernie Sanders beat Hillary. Establishment candidates failed. Both party establishments are scrambling to finesse the insubordination of their voters.

Pundits figure that the Democratic Party establishment can bring their obstreperous base to heel, but few figure the Republican Party establishment will have any corresponding success. The prospective success or failure of their counterinsurgency warfare, and its effect upon November, fixates the press and both establishments.

But there is a less obvious, very ill portent here for Michigan Republicans.

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Bitter Consequences

Scorched Earth Politics Isolates the Republican Establishment in Michigan

Mitt Romney Image 1Anyone who watched or listened to Mitt Romney’s lame assault on Donald Trump yesterday had to wince at the Obamacare architect and gun control proponent questioning the bona fides of the current Republican front runner. Hypocrisy at its finest. A blatant violation of Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment. A testament to the abject desperation coursing through the Republican establishment today. Stark evidence of how few friends the Republican establishment actually owns has.

Just how did the Republican establishment get themselves into this predicament?

What does their predicament portend in Michigan politics?

This year’s Presidential nomination process demonstrates convincingly that money is no longer a substitute for actual human support in a political process where the great unwashed get to vote. Money – and the TV advertising it bought – had a 40 year run buying elections, but this elixir of modern American politics is no longer working. ¡Jeb! is very expensive history. The great unwashed are in open revolt.

Ace over at the Ace of Spades HQ blog offered the very best analysis of the national Republican establishment’s current predicament, which compelled Mitt’s embarrassing performance yesterday. You should read it in its entirety, but in a nutshell:

The Republican establishment has no one credible to make their case against Donald Trump. Absolutely no one who has even a shred of credibility with Trump supporters. They sent Mitt Romney out on yesterday’s kamikaze mission because they had nothing better to offer. Then they will have to spend a mountain of wealth with no real prospects of success. And engage in strong arm tactics. Making an embarrassing spectacle of themselves.

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Because

Just to be clear.

A while back this site left the rah-rah part of the neighborhood.

Rightmi.com stopped being the default cheerleader for the Michigan GOP as a matter of principle.  Particularly since the primary part of the MiGOP has all but abandoned its tenets and reason to exist.  What exists now is a shell of pseudo conservatism, and a mockery of the platform under which the party pretends to exist.  Arguably, we still prefer the Republicans who run on conservative platforms but the party mechanism makes it tougher to sort them out.

There is some seriously spoiled fruit in the party.  Snyder is no ‘Republican,’ yet his ‘purchasing’ of, and carrying the flag as one, is enough to fool the soft stupid on both sides of the aisle.  The machinery in place to keep Republicans in majority has corrupted the ability to recruit and retain true conservative leadership as well.  Ronna Romney does her part to keep those crazy doctrinaire Republicans in check using party money and resources.

In fact, its one of the reasons I am changing my phone service to a different carrier.  It allows me to block solicitations for the MiGOP, and these calls usually come from outside the state anyhow.

Having said all that, I still believe today’s loyalist Democrats are the bane of intellectual development.  Even more so than the blind loyalist Republicans who still support bad apples no matter what..  Flint, Detroit, etc..  The inability to look at the results of generational liberal rule and deduce the higher incompetency rate is beyond mind blowing.

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The Dismal Science Confutes Emergency Management in Flint

The entire world now knows what crass bureaucratic stupidity, feeble political direction, and witless press coverage did to Flint. We have demonstrated that Flint’s politicians and financial managers made terrible decisions in an effort to replace plunging tax revenue, which had reached statutory and constitutional rate limitations.

Flint Water Bill 1The foremost source of revenue expanded was Flint’s water & sewerage charges. Annual free cash flow from water & sewerage charges was increased from nil to $ 28.7 million (bottoms of page 3-13) over the decade from 2004 [FY2005 CAFR, large file] to 2014 [FY2015 CAFR, large file]. The big jump in free cash flow from water & sewerage charges occurred in 2014 as a consequence of Flint River sourcing. Flint only had to pay the DW&SD pirates for water up to April 25th in 2014. Annual free cash flow from water & sewerage charges in 2013 [FY 2014 CAFR, large file] was only $ 9.4 million when they paid DW&SD all year. Why Flint resourced to the Flint River in one number: $ 19.3 million more in cash flow. And most of this $ 19.3 million is now gone with the return to DW&SD water. We will know how much gone later this year.

That $ 28.7 million in free cash flow during 2014 was a 77% markup on actual Flint water & sewerage costs. Only $ 7 million of it was used for infrastructure, mostly to prepare for the now abandoned Flint River sourcing. Only $ 2 million of it was used to pay off water & sewerage debt. The remaining $ 18.5 million was used by other Flint city departments and applied to other Flint obligations. That $ 18.5 million dollars became 22% of all Flint City revenues. Greater than any other source of revenue, greater than income tax revenue, greater than property tax revenue, greater than State revenue sharing, greater than Federal revenue sharing. That $ 28.7 million dollars was the only reason Flint was able to exit emergency management. That and a $ 65.3 million theft from restatement of Flint’s water and sewerage enterprise fund net positions, from their 2014 CAFR to their 2015 CAFR (compare ending 2014 to beginning 2015 net positions on the bottom of pages 3-13).

Let’s consider a counterfactual. Suppose that Michigan’s bureaucrats and political leaders were actually competent and, under the unrelenting scrutiny of a watchful press, arranged for proper chemistry controls of Flint River sourced water. No Flint residents were exposed to lead, no one died from legionella pneumophila, and Flint residents sang the praises of their new water. Its tough to ignore recent history, but do so for a moment so we can explore a very important question:

Would the financial reorganization of Flint under its popularly elected politicians and emergency managers have worked?

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