Government Incompetence

Chemistry, The Problem is C-H-E-M-I-S-T-R-Y

Flint Water Quality is Now a Presidential Campaign Issue

Lab Rat Image 4Governor Snyder’s many attempts to deflect responsibility and and tamp down adverse media coverage of the Flint water situation are failing miserably. Snyder cannot make a public appearance without getting peppered with antagonistic questions about the circumstances behind the Flint water sourcing change. National International media are now all over this story, and their coverage is ugly. Democrats are having a field day promoting the ‘uncaring Republican’ meme. This story is going to really hurt the Republican Party’s 2016 Presidential nominee unless it is spiked quickly. Hillary Clinton is already using it.

Snyder’s ineptitude at handling the Flint situation, plunging from a deep hole into the abyss, also creates great risks for taxpayers across Michigan. We have already pointed out that skilled, predatory legal vultures are circling the Michigan Treasury. The torrent of adverse publicity will predispose any jury they impanel to hammer the State of Michigan financially. Now a variety of self-interested parties within and without Flint are proposing an avalanche of new, State-paid goodies for the citizens of Flint. These acts of contrition will be paid for by Michigan taxpayers who played no role in the Flint water situation and will not receive any benefit from a lavish expenditure of their hard earned dollars.

Snyder’s political career is over, but he will enjoy his remaining days living in well earned obscurity akin to his mentor Bill Milliken. You can safely bet that our accountant-in-chief will use his single real world skill to avoid paying the penance for his decisions. Michigan taxpayers, Republicans, and conservatives will take the big hit here.

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Gordie Howe Bridge On A Slow Roll to Oblivion

Canadian Economic Collapse and Extravagant Liberal Party Campaign Promises Doom Governor Snyder's Bridge

The estimated cost of constructing the NITC DRIC Gordie Howe Bridge between Detroit and Windsor has now more than tripled since the Canada agreed to fund the entire cost back in June 2012. Its total cost, including interest payments, is now over four times the 2012 estimate. The recent, sharp collapse in the value of the Loonie – the Canadian currency – is being blamed. But it appears that deliberate lying cost underestimation in 2012 and project creep over the last 30 months play a much bigger role in the eyepopping new cost estimates.USDCAD

Financial markets trade the U.S. Dollar and the Canadian Dollar back and forth as ‘USDCAD‘, which is the equal value ratio of Loonies per greenback. The higher USDCAD is, the weaker the Loonie. USDCAD is now quoted around 1.40 (1.4 Loonies per greenback). The Loonie was 37% stronger back in June 2012 when Governor Snyder and then Canadian Prime Minister Harper worked out their agreement; USDCAD was then about 1.02.

Direct construction costs are now estimated to be C$ 2 billion ($ 1.43 billion USD) higher than the C$ 973 million ($ 950 million USD) estimate touted back in 2012. A 37% increase due to currency adjustments would be only $ 360 million (USD), so we know the 2012 deliberate lie underestimation was in the vicinity of $ 1.64 billion (USD). Additionally, the collapse of the Loonie now requires the establishment of a C$ 1.5 billion ($ 1.07 billion USD) reserve to offset the expected rise in Canadian dollar denominated bond interest rates. The Canadian government bond yield curve has doubled at its short end since the middle of September 2015 in response to the collapse of the Loonie. The Gordie Howe Bridge will be financed at those higher Canadian bond interest rates. The total Canadian government cost estimate is now C$ 4.8 billion ($ 3.43 billion USD).Snyder Harper Image

Harper’s Conservative government was defeated in October of last year after NDP voters abandoned their own party for the elysian promises of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party. Virtually the same promises our Dear Leader made in 2008 – ‘Hope and Change’ recycled for a northern audience. Harsh reality is already wrecking the promises Trudeau made to win the October election, so will the Canadian government continue to throw money at an unneeded bridge?

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Vultures Over Michigan

Senate Joint Resolution M: Paying for Michigan's Role in the Flint Water Disaster with Roads Funding?

Vulture Image 1Four Republican Michigan State Senators introduced Senate Joint Resolution M on December 15th to abrogate the just enacted PA 179 (HB 4370) deal which will eventually apply $ 600 million from State General Fund to roads repairs.  SJR M replaces this funding by raising the Michigan sales tax from 6% to 7%. The four Republican Senators are:

Ken Horn, District 32
Rick Jones, District 24
Darwin Booher, District 35
Mike Green, District 31

Senator Ken Horn

Senator Ken Horn

All four of these Republican Senators voted for every bill in the PA 174 – 180 road funding deal on November 3rd. But now, less than two months later, they want a different – all tax – funding arrangement for additional road work. Legislators’ remorse? Maybe not. Or perhaps remorse over a different situation?

First term Senator Horn was interviewed by Jake Neher of Michigan Radio on Senate Joint Resolution M:

Horn thinks the current plan relies too heavily on shifting money from other areas of the budget – especially with some big expenses on the horizon.
“That has me a little bit nervous,” he said. “If we tie our hands with $600 million out of the general fund, how do we ever manage new expenses?”

What “big….new expenses” cropped up in Senator Horn’s mind over the last 60 days?

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2015: Year Of The Big Lie

The Etiquette of Lying Evolved in Michigan This Year

hcedhbcaThomas Sowell just dismissed 2015 as the “Year of the Big Lie”. His view is national, but his observation certainly applies to Michigan politics this year as well.

MDEQ Director Dan Wyant resigned yesterday in an act of contrition over his department’s prevarications about Flint water processing and quality.  The Flint Water Advisory Task Force found the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality failed to ensure safe drinking water in the City of Flint.  He was followed out the door yesterday evening by his mouthpiece, MDEQ Communications Director Brad Wurfel. The really egregious MDEQ lies were actually formulated by Stephen Busch, a civil service classified ‘engineer’ in the MDEQ Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Office. No word on his fate, but don’t hold your breath; he is a classified civil servant.

By contrast, MDoT Director Kirk Steudle gets to spend a gusher of new taxpayer dollars gulled from our State Legislature, after his blizzard of lies supporting Proposal 2015-01 failed to impress Michigan voters. Our legislators were far less discerning than their constituents. Director Steudle was all over Michigan in the first quarter poor mouthing MDoT’s resources. He relentlessly promoted an entirely bogus assessment methodology to portray Michigan road conditions in the worst possible light. All the while, the Michigan Auditor General was having a field day revealing MDoT nonfeasance, misfeasance, and waste.

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Fast and Loose in the Michigan Senate

Switch Subsidy Bill Passage Was A Senate Rules Violation

David Knezek ImageIn their slobbering rush to deliver tax breaks for one very specific data center last Thursday, the Michigan Senate violated its own rules regarding the consideration of appropriations bills. The Knezek amendment to SB 616, S-1:

Enacting section 1. The legislature shall annually appropriate sufficient funds from the state general fund to the state school aid fund created in section 11 of article IX of the state constitution of 1963 to fully compensate for any loss of revenue to the state school aid fund resulting from the enactment of this amendatory act.

converted SB 616 into an appropriations bill according to the definition in Michigan’s 1963 Constitution, in its Article IV, Section 31.

Michigan Senate Rule 3.602 requires:

“Any bill requiring an appropriation to carry out its intended purpose shall be considered an appropriation bill (See Constitution Article IV, Section 31). Appropriations bills, when reported back to the Senate favorably by a committee other than the Committee on Appropriations, shall, together with amendments proposed by that committee, be referred to the Committee on Appropriations for consideration.

Michael Kowall Image 2Senator Kowall moved a suspension of the Senate Rules after the noon recess on Thursday to bring nine bills on to Third Reading, including SB 616. From Senate Journal 106, page 1910: “be placed on their immediate passage at the head of the Third Reading of the Bills calendar.” was his motion. Senate Journal 106 indicates that his request was passed by a majority. This allowed final action and passage on SB 616 in the Senate that day.

Reading the record, it would appear that Senator Kowall was suspending Rule 3.207 to consider SB 616 and the eight other bills which had been placed on to ‘General Orders’ that morning for final passage under ‘Third Reading’, out of normal order. Senate Rule 3.207 requires a one day delay between the ‘Second Reading’ (‘General Orders’), and the ‘Third Reading’ (‘Final Action’). Suspending this prescribed one day delay is a common practice when time is of the essence.

Senator Kowall had already moved that morning, before recess, to place SB 616 and the same eight other bills then under ‘Committee Reports’ (‘First Reading’) under ‘General Orders’ (‘Second Reading’), so they could be on that day’s calendar. Also out of normal order, but again a common practice when time is of the essence.

But did either of Senator Kowall’s two suspension motions suspend Michigan Senate Rule 3.602?

Is Michigan Senate Rule 3.602 a fundamental rule as defined by Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure? Mason’s is the underlying body of rules adopted by the Michigan Senate when their own rules are mute on an issue.  Fundamental rules cannot be suspended according to Mason’s and all the other accepted bodies of parliamentary rules.

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Lie of the Month: “We’re talking about introducing an entirely new industry to Michigan”

Pandora's Box Has Been Opened

Pandoras Box Image 2Actually, no. There are at least 28 third party data centers already up and operating in Michigan. The House Fiscal Agency thinks there are 40, but didn’t specify them. None of these 28+ existing data centers required the tax breaks just reported out of the Michigan House Committee on Tax Policy to get up and running.  But Switch SuperNAP does? Why?

The promoters of Switch SuperNAP’s tax break package launched their campaign back in November with a heavy emphasis on the ‘new industry’ angle. This whopper seems to have been originated by Switch’s spokesman Roger Martin:

“It is a tough issue,” Switch spokesman Roger Martin said. “There’s no question about it. We’re talking about introducing an entirely new industry to Michigan, something that is the future of this country and of this world. It’s a good, vigorous debate.”

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Switch SuperNAP Michigan Data Center: Chaos in the Offing

A Few Details Michigan's Legislators Might Want to Consider

Steelcase Pyramid Image 3
Michigan’s nitwit media have been gushing over the announcement last Thursday that Switch, LLC will purchase the erstwhile Steelcase Pyramid southwest of Grand Rapids and convert the site into one of their state-of-the-art SuperNAP cloud computing data centers. The ‘information economy’ has been touted as Michigan’s future by no less than Michael Dell. He was in Detroit to address the Economic Club after his company purchased EMC Corporation, another major data center operator with three facilities in Michigan, in a blow out $ 67 billion buyout. Switch SuperNAP promoters, notably The Right Place, Incorporated, are touting 1,000 new jobs in Gaines Township, but this should be regarded wth the same skepticism as any other MEDC clone employment prediction. No one has said anything about financing, but there is good reason to believe that Michigan will be asked to ‘participate’ here as well.

Steelcase vacated their distinctive Corporate Development Center in 2012 and sold it to to Norman Properties in May. Norman Properties, in turn, has agreed to sell this property to Switch LLC, pending the approval of State tax breaks. Those tax breaks have been introduced in the Michigan House by Representatives VerHeulin, Yonker, and Schor. Identical tax break legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Hildenbrand, Schuitmaker, and MacGregor. These legislators are targeting quick passage in the legislative session which convenes after their Thanksgiving break. They might want to consider a few details before they lunge further forward.

This being RightMI, you might think this post is about those tax breaks. You would be wrong. There is actually a critical flaw in this project which will injure Consumer’s Energy electricity customers all across West Michigan. A couple of other issues exist as well, but they pale in comparison to the electricity consumption of this project.  Those tax breaks are a lost cause in American politics today – not even worth protesting.

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The Only Genuine Flint Water Expert: Josiah Willard Gibbs

Albert Einstein Called Him "The Greatest Mind in American History."

Josiah Willard Gibbs 1839 - 1903

Josiah Willard Gibbs
1839 – 1903

The second phase of Governor Snyder’s plan to restore Flint’s damaged water infrastructure was announced today. Michigan’s taxpayers will pay the pirates at Detroit Water & Sewerage $ 6 million to reconnect the Flint water system to DW&SD’s Lake Huron water supply. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will ante up $ 4 million more and the City of Flint will will pay $ 2 million extra as well. Governor Snyder said: “The technical experts helping the city on its water advisory all agree this move back to the Great Lakes Water Authority provides the best public health protection for children and families.”   Note that our devious Governor gives you the impression that the funds will be going to the GLWA.  No, they will all be going straight to the pirates at DW&SD unless Flint’s new Karegnondi water pipeline is seriously delayed.

As we pointed out last week, the Flint water distribution system has been seriously damaged by 17 months of amateur chemistry and government incompetence after resourcing their water supply to the Flint River. Incompetent control of water chemistry after April 2014 has dissolved protective pipe linings, allowing lead, iron and steel corrosion which has released lead and iron compounds into Flint’s water on its way to customers. A process called leaching. The finished water coming out of the Flint Water Treatment Plant is seemingly fine, but it certainly isn’t by the time it arrives at their customer’s taps.

Because the damage to Flint’s water infrastructure commenced with this resourcing, a hue and cry went up to reconnect Flint to Detroit water. A logical fallacy. Detroit water did not damage Flint’s water infrastructure when it was used prior to April 2014, at least as far as we know. (Do we really know?) However it cannot – by itself – repair the damage done since. Flint pipes may not have been corroding before April 2014, but they certainly are now. Detroit water is controlled just enough to prevent damage to water infrastructure, but not enough to repair damaged infrastructure.  Flint is going to require a distinctly different water chemistry than Detroit.

The technical experts are touting corrosion control plans to stop the corrosion in Flint’s water distribution piping. By corrosion control, they intend to load up Flint’s water with orthophosphate forming chemicals to prevent further corrosion and attempt to restore the protective scale linings in Flint’s water piping. This is the EPA’s stock recommended practice, derived from their statistical analysis of water systems across the nation. The problem here is those statistical analyses were made of more or less functional water distribution systems. Not a heavily damaged system like Flint’s. Flint’s water problems are an ex novo case. The only recent case of lead pipe leaching even close occurred in Washington, DC, but is enough different in its particulars that Washington’s corrective actions do not provide an assured plan of action for Flint.

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Flint Water Quality – Michigan Taxpayers Are Going To Pay For It

Amateur Chemistry, MDEQ Lies, All Around Government Incompetence, Social Justice Warriors => Everything Goes Wrong

Mad Chemistry Image 1
Usually, when the words ‘Flint’ and ‘lead poisoning’ are used in the same sentence you get a mental image of homicides by gunshot. Likewise, in Michigan, ‘amateur’ and ‘chemistry’ conjures up images of an illegal meth lab fire. Now, however, we have allegations that the City of Flint’s amateur drinking water chemistry is causing high lead levels in children.  This story has exploded over the last week and, as usual, the ignorati in the main stream media and Michigan politics are clueless.

Flint’s emergency financial manager switched the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in April 2014, an attempt to save the ruined city $ 30 million a year – the vigorish being extracted by the pirates at the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department. The same extortion which motivated the Detroit suburbs to create the Great Lakes Water Authority. Using river water was an intermediate step, with the ultimate goal of Flint joining the new Karegnondi Water Authority and resuming Lake Huron sourcing after the new KWA pipeline is completed in 2016.

Unfortunately, Emergency Financial Manager Ed Kurtz did not realize that river water would require much different preparation than the Lake Huron water they had been supplied by DW&SD. He rose in life as the leader of a business school, not as a chemist. It doesn’t appear that Flint Water Treatment Plant’s staff water chemists had a clue, either. Comments made by Governor Snyder at the presser for his Supreme Court nominee Joan Larsen suggest he was neck deep in this decision and also completely oblivious to the technical issues.

Flint residents protested immediately, complaining of poor taste, foul odors, and turbidity (lack of clarity). Much of this unrest was part of a long term drive to oust the emergency financial manager running Flint, the paramount goal of the city’s social justice warriors. It didn’t help that Ed Kurtz raised water rates about 50%, emulating DW&SD’s obscene fees on top of maximum taxes piracy. Public outrage has increased in Flint ever since. Genesee Circuit Court Judge Archie Hayman enjoined Flint’s water rate hike, throwing Flint’s finances back into disorder. Since Judge Haymen’s order was left in place by the Appeals Court and went into effect, Flint water collections have dropped by $ 1.75 million a month.

In all fairness to EFM Kurtz, part of his rate increase was intended to replenish $ 15.7 million which had been transferred from the Flint water fund in 2007 to pay a sewerage overflow settlement. However this entire situation was almost certainly an attempt to quickly balance Flint’s books and wrap up emergency financial management. Lansing was certainly sweating EFM Kurtz to conclude Flint’s restoration in order to shut down the social justice warriors before our 2014 election.

So what is happening here, technically? Will Detroit water fix Flint’s problems? (Hint: No)

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Who’s Missing?

Governor Snyder's New Pipeline Safety Advisory Board: Long on Bureaucrats & Special Interests, Short on Technical Talent

Ruptured Section of Enbridge Pipeline 6B Recovered from Calhoun County, MI. NTSB Image

Ruptured Section of Enbridge Pipeline 6B Recovered from Calhoun County, MI. NTSB Image

Governor Snyder filed Executive Order 2015-12 with the Secretary of State yesterday to create a Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board under the aegis of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. A response to the disastrous 2010 Enbridge Pipeline 6B rupture in Calhoun County and the agitation against Enbridge Pipeline 5, which transects the Straits of Mackinac.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Schuette completed a binding legal agreement with Enbridge to prevent Enbridge Pipeline 5 from being used to transport ‘heavy crude oil’ under the Straits of Mackinac. This agreement formally implements the first recommendation of the Michigan DEQ Petroleum Pipeline Task Force Report released in July to ban heavy crude oil in Line 5. Sounds good, but Enbridge Pipeline 5 does not now have the pumping horsepower for heavy crude transmission, and the weight of the crude has very little to do with pipeline integrity. Corrosive constituents in the crude, biofouling, and a host of other technical issues are far more important determinants of pipeline integrity. This agreement has great optics, but little consequence.

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