Rent Seeking

If we can convince you that smoking is good and get you to eat for breakfast what we want you to, then we can definitely get you to support this.

Take a good look at the picture below.

Edward Bernays Image

He’s going to factor heavily in this post (and more importantly, what YOU can do to protect your pocketbook).

{Continued below the fold}

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Because giving them even more money has always solved Detroit’s problems.

Hold onto your wallets because the fun is set to begin again tomorrow.

Last week the Michigan House, in response to the temper tantrum thrown by the Detroit Federation of Teachers (which to be fair, was in response to the gross ineptitude of one Judge Steven Rhodes), passed yet another in a long line of “life preservers” to the failed Detroit Public School district.

Despite having been “locked out” by administration (seriously, that is what the DFT was using as a speaking point on every local talking head show last weekend), things went back to normal by Wednesday.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the concept of how calling in sick en masse is somehow the equivalent of being “locked out” from your place of employment…but I digress.

Unlike the bailout proposed by the Michigan Senate, the House package is about $200-million lighter than the Senate’s, and is choked so full of poison-pill provisions that it is guaranteed to cause even more problems.

 

Bus roll over

“Not to worry! With a little elbow grease and some friendly verbal persuasion, we’ll have you upright and humming along the road in no time,” our relentlessly positive Gov Snyder allegedly remarked about the latest DPS bailout.

{More below the fold}

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Whoopie Ti Yi Yo, Git Along Little Dogies

Cattle Roundup Image 1

Whoopee Ti Yi Yo, Git Along Little Dogies

Some boys goes up the trail for pleasure,
But that’s where you get it most awfully wrong;
For you haven’t any idea the trouble they give us
While we go driving them all along.

Whoopee Ti Yi Yo, Git Along Little Dogies

When the night comes on and we hold them on the bedground,
These little dogies that roll on so slow;
Roll up the herd and cut out the strays,
And roll the little dogies that never rolled before.

Whoopee Ti Yi Yo, Git Along Little Dogies

Traditional 19th Century American Cowboy Cattle Drive Song

Rhodes Image 1aMichigan’s tax-and-spend establishment continues to demonstrate world class tactical flexibility as they pursue their dubious ends. Their latest tour de force is the setup for the impending Detroit Public Schools bailout. Michigan’s legislators are being driven like cattle.

The new state appointed emergency transition manager of the Detroit Public Schools, retired U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven W. Rhodes, announced that the district would shut down on April 8th due to a lack of funds. This chilling announcement came a week after Governor Snyder appointed him to replace Darnell Early, who resigned at the end of February. Darnell Early, for some reason, failed to inform Michigan of the April 8th drop dead date. Judge Rhodes made his announcement four weeks in advance of the projected shutdown in a full court press to get a bailout from our State Legislature.

Detroit Public Schools LogoThe first problem here is the State Legislature is scheduled to take two weeks off in the four weeks leading up to April 8th. The last week of March and the first week of April. Judge Rhodes certainly knew this, so the dilatory announcement is unquestionably a deliberate effort to stampede the Michigan Legislature into immediately delivering $ 50 – 70 million to DPS, no questions asked. Two weeks is not a reasonable legislative time frame, rather it is herding legislators like cattle on a two week drive. An echo of the tactics used by Judge Rhodes to ram through the bungled Detroit bankruptcy.

Governor Snyder has been floating an inchoate plan to rescue the Detroit Public Schools since the middle of last year; one which originally envisioned the creation of a ‘bad debt’ shell district and a new, debt free district by cellular division. Wasn’t really well received anywhere, even after he added dissolution of the much hated Education Achievement Authority. As his problems in the Flint water fiasco have mounted, Governor Snyder decided to wash his hands of the DPS situation by throwing $ 700 million at them to extinguish their ‘operating’ debt and return control to the next generation of local thieves elected school board members.

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Emergency Managers, Emergency Management

Synonyms for Headlee Evasion

Darnell Early

Darnell Early

La victoria trova cento padri, a nessuno vuole riconoscere l’insuccesso
A victory finds 100 fathers, nobody claims credit for a failure.
Galezzo Ciano, 2o Conte di Cortellazzo e Buccari, Diary (1942)

The left wing meme on the Flint Water fiasco is that Governor Snyder seized absolute control of Flint and installed doctrinaire Republican viceroys who ruthlessly slashed Flint’s payroll and expenditures without any regard for the residents.

If only this were so.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

The Flint emergency managers had only one common thread in their backgrounds, long records of administration in government and the nonprofit sectors. No productive experience. Experts at spending other people’s money. Well paid experts.  Outright Democrats or chameleons politically; typical politics of the bureaucratic class. Look at the backgrounds of the Flint emergency managers:

Edward Kurtz

Michael K. Brown

Edward Kurtz, again

Michael K. Brown, again

Darnell Early

Gerald (Jerry) Ambrose

Emergency managers are not viceroys with absolute powers. The evolution of emergency management in Michigan was frustrated by public union opposition. Five successive laws, one repealed by referendum. The law in force during the critical Flint water fiasco decisions is PA 436 of 2012. The powers it confers upon emergency managers are:

MCL 141.1549, Section 9

(2) Upon appointment, an emergency manager shall act for and in the place and stead of the governing body and the office of chief administrative officer of the local government. The emergency manager shall have broad powers in receivership to rectify the financial emergency and to assure the fiscal accountability of the local government and the local government’s capacity to provide or cause to be provided necessary governmental services essential to the public health, safety, and welfare. Following appointment of an emergency manager and during the pendency of receivership, the governing body and the chief administrative officer of the local government shall not exercise any of the powers of those offices except as may be specifically authorized in writing by the emergency manager or as otherwise provided by this act and are subject to any conditions required by the emergency manager.

The emergency managers replace the mayors, council, and chief administrative officers of the municipal governments. While this does indeed give them extraordinary powers of control, their control is anything but absolute. The municipal charter continues in effect and continues to protect the prerogatives of lesser bureaucrats. The vague statutory powers of emergency managers beyond replacing the mayor, council, and chief administrative officer poses unremitting legal jeopardy to emergency managers. Encourages timidity and bureaucratic subterfuge. Not absolute control.

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Bureaucratic Capture In The Flint Water Fiasco, An Echo Of Proposal 1

Snyder's Email Dump Is Most Notable for What It Doesn't Show: Management

Snyder Steudle Image 1Governor Snyder went way out on a political limb supporting Proposal 2015-01. By the time this limb broke off at the polls on May 5th, his only remaining allies were MDoT, MITA, and Michigan’s nitwit media.

MDoT’s Director, Kirk T. Steudle, P.E. received lavish, flattering coverage in our nitwit media throughout the road funding proposal campaign. The Transportation Asset Management Council, an MDoT tool, packaged an avalanche of lies in glossy pamphlets for public consumption. An entirely fictitious Washington think tank, TRIP, used inside MDoT information to issue even more incredulous lies. Governor Snyder parroted these titillating lies thoughout his Proposal 1 media campaign. He was entirely comfortable promoting the agenda of his ‘technical experts’.

Pre SB 571 campaign finance law allowed us to watch MITA spend $ 5.4 million supporting this turkey, more than half the total spent by Safe Roads Yes! The Michigan Infrastructure and Transporatation Association is ostensibly a bunch of independent, competitive contractors. Somehow a fractious bunch of competitors planned and executed a well coordinated – if entirely devious – political campaign.

How did they coordinate?

How did this presage the Flint water fiasco?

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Headlee Evasion Caused Flint’s Water Quality Fiasco

Water Has A Very Special Attribute In Southeast Michigan

Water is Money Image 6You probably think the water which comes out of the taps in your house is for drinking and washing. You would be wrong. Michigan drinking water is first and foremost a mechanism for Michigan politicians to evade limits imposed upon them by the Headlee Amendment. You probably think Michigan water systems have quality as their top concern. You would be wrong. Michigan water departments are directed to maximize revenue by their political masters. These unfortunate facts are the genesis of Flint’s sorry water quality.

Michigan’s lefties and the ignorati in our media have fabricated a popular history of the Flint water situation which begins with Governor Snyder and his emergency managers on 25 April 2014, the date Flint started drawing its drinking water from the Flint River. Craven emergency managers appointed by Governor Snyder plotted to poison Flint residents to save a few bucks. The truth is rather different.

The history of this calamity actually begins in 1978, when the Headlee Amendment to Michigan’s Constitution was passed by outraged Michigan voters.

You Betcha! (26)Nuh Uh.(3)

Hey, wait a minute…why are we doing this again?!?

If you are gullible enough to buy into Gov. Snyder’s, along with the Michigan GOP’s (working behind the scenes, of course), hype surrounding the “saving” of Detroit through a massive Michigan Taxpayer bailout via the “Grand Bargain“, a little more than a year later you would think things were humming along wonderfully and everything in The D was just swell.

Well, let me be among the first to smash those rose-colored glasses they have been distributing to the masses, knock that cup of Kool Aid in your hands to the ground and show everyone why it all is about to come crashing down…hard…again.

{Continued after the fold}

*** Quick Note: I’ve received a few messages asking me why I referred to EX-Detroit Federation of Teachers President as being “recently reinstated“.

There is an upcoming “hearing” with the American Federation of Teachers next week to consider the matter of his reinstatement. I’ve been told that hearing is nothing really more than a formality at this point, but that he is not currently officially back in his old position.

It should also be noted that the size, scope and frequency of these “sickouts” are next to impossible to orchestrate and coordinate without significant union involvement. So take Steve Conn’s “official” status with the DFT for what you will.***

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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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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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