Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that It Is Too Cold Outside

Well, I did it again. For the third time, I wrote resolutions that were adopted at the Kent County Democratic Convention and forwarded to the Michigan Democratoic Party Resolutions Committee.

What's likely going to happen is that the State Resolutions Committee will include them in the packet of resolutions we will adopt en masse at the State Convention in two weeks (though with some changes, including "be it resolved that the Michigan Democratic Party...")

The other resolutions we adopted have to do with the building of a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor; an "America Needs Jobs" resolution introduced by someone in the AFL-CIO; forming an MDP "precinct delegates caucus;" the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Act (guess what Republicans want to do with that); opposing making Michigan a "right" to work (for less) state; and corporate personhood.



WHEREAS, founded by Thomas Jefferson, the Democratic Party envisions an America in which all people enjoy the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;”

WHEREAS, in his first two years in office, President Barack Obama has led the United States with character, courage, and competence during an extraordinary time in our nation’s history;

WHEREAS, President Obama and the Democratic-controlled 111th Congress worked together to pass an unusually high number of wide-ranging bills into law, including but not limited to: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act; the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act; the Credit Card Accountability, Reform, and Disclosure Act; the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act; the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act; the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act; the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal Act; the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act; and the Food Safety Modernization Act;

WHEREAS, other accomplishments have included, but are not limited to, an end to the combat mission in Iraq, expanded protections for the environment, renewal of the START Treaty with Russia, reform of the student financial aid system, and increased transparency and decreased waste and fraud in the federal government;

WHEREAS, 2010 saw more private-sector jobs created in one year than during the entire presidency of George W. Bush;

WHEREAS, in 2009 President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize, an award bestowed upon only three other US Presidents since its inception 110 years ago;

WHEREAS, in his 2011 State of the Union Address, titled “Winning the Future,” President Obama laid out a visionary agenda that seeks to address the challenges that remain, including keeping America on the road to recovery, reducing America’s dependence on foreign energy, improving education, and strengthening America’s relations with other nations.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Kent County Democratic Party congratulates President Obama on the historic achievements of his first two years as President;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Kent County Democratic Party opposes any and all attempts to do away with these historic achievements; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Kent County Democratic Party reaffirms its support for President Obama and his efforts to achieve Jefferson’s vision of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


WHEREAS, Jennifer Granholm served the people of Michigan with distinction during her years as Governor, Attorney General, County Corporation Council, and clerk for Judge Damon Keith;

WHEREAS, John Cherry served the people of Michigan with distinction during his time as Lieutenant Governor, State Senator, State Representative, and aide to State Sen. Gary Corbin;

WHEREAS, the Granholm-Cherry Administration led Michigan through some of the most trying times Michigan has seen, marked by massive unemployment and structural budget deficits;

WHEREAS, the Granholm-Cherry Administration’s focus on diversifying Michigan’s economy has yielded growth for the clean energy, healthcare, tourism, and film sectors, among many others;

WHEREAS, the Granholm-Cherry Administration helped to create or save more than 650,000 jobs thanks to such efforts as the 21st Century Jobs Fund, No Worker Left Behind, and numerous trips overseas to encourage companies to invest in Michigan;

WHEREAS, the Granholm-Cherry Administration’s focus on education, including a law signed in 2006 that raised high school standards, has yielded an increase in the popularity of Advanced Placement courses in high schools, record university and college enrollment, increased scores on standardized tests, and a lower high school dropout rate;

WHEREAS, despite the enormous budgetary challenges facing state government, no person was removed from Michigan’s ‘safety net;’

WHEREAS, at the time she left office, Michigan’s unemployment rate was dropping three times as fast as the national unemployment rate;

WHEREAS, 80% of the goals Governor Granholm laid out in her State of the State addresses were achieved, despite the fact that throughout her governorship, Republicans controlled the State Senate and, in her first term, the State House of Representatives;

WHEREAS, the State of Michigan received a number of accolades for these efforts, including: Being named one of the best managed states in the nation (Governing Magazine); an increase in Michigan’s ranking as a business friendly state, from 27th in 2003 to 17th in 2010 (Tax Foundation), and being named one of the top three states for business expansions (Site Selection Magazine);

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Kent County Democratic Party wishes to thank Jennifer M. Granholm, John D. Cherry, Jr., and members of their administration for all they did for the people of the state of Michigan for the past eight years, while wishing them the best in their future endeavors.


The Pressure Is On Amash

Just two weeks after becomong a member of Congress, the pressure is already on Justin Amash to see if he will actually live up to what he calls his principles.

Amash was notorious in the Michigan House for being the lone vote against many peopular bills - including bills that would have created jobs and allowed people to be treated with dignity and respect (one about burials of US military veterans comes to mind). He even admitted (sorry, I can't find the source) that he would often vote against a bill because he didn't have the time to read the entire bill - despite the relative brevity of state legislation as opposed to congressional legislation.

Oftentimes he'd say that he was acting on his principles.

Well, today (Wednesday), Amash faces a test of what he calls his principles.

Today, Justin Amash will choose whether to continue the reputation he earned in Lansing, and oppose that which many of his colleagues (or at least in this case, presumably a majority) support. A bill which, if it were to become law, would cost taxpayers $130 billion over ten years - more than $800,000 per congressional district per day for the next decade.

Very soon, we will see if Amash meant it when he said he wanted reduced government spending - or if he is just another politician who will say things to get the conservative vote and forsake his principles.

Very soon, we will see whether Amash supports his Party or his country.

Very soon, we will see if Vern Ehlers was right in questioning Amash's readiness "to step into the job immediately."

Ball's in your court, Justin!


Two quarters of profitability - and 400 jobs lost

Okay, maybe this can't be blamed on our new governor, Rick Snyder. But given some people's penchant for blaming his predecessor for all the jobs lost when she was in office, one wonders when they will blame Snyder for Steelcase's decision to cut 400 jobs here in Kentwood.

The company made the announcement Wednesday morning. Officials say 750 jobs will be cut nationwide. Plants in Ontario, Canada and Grand Prairie, Texas will also lose jobs. Some of the work will move to Mexico, as well as a plant in Alabama.

Yep - where the wages are cheaper. Same story as before. But then it gets puzzling (emphasis mine):
Despite two straight quarters of profitability and other signs the nation's economy may be recovering, a Steelcase spokesperson said the changes in the way people buy office furniture necessitates the need for further downsizing.

Yep, things are looking up - but we still gotta get rid of those workers who make more than 2% or 5% or whatever % of what the CEO makes!

Meanwhile, Kentwood Mayor Richard Root (a Republican, by the way, though Kentwood elections are nonpartisan) said:
"It's sad, but it's a business decision," Root told 24 Hour News 8.

Business decision? They've been profitable for two straight quarters! There had to be something else to it. Such as the need to pay CEO James Hackett $792,000 per year.

Whatever is going on, Rick Snyder has to be blamed for this, correct? After all, it was Snyder whose supporters often criticized the previous governor for all the job losses that she couldn't stop!


Michigan voters to elect three Justices in 2012

Governor Snyder is appointing state Supreme Court justice Maura Corrigan to a spot in his cabinet:

Gov. Rick Snyder has named Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan as director of the state's Department of Human Services, calling her a "true champion of children and families."

The GOP governor said Thursday he'll name a replacement for the court before Corrigan steps down Jan. 14. Corrigan is one of four Republicans on the seven-member court and has been deeply involved in children's issues while a justice.

One aspect of this that isn't often mentioned is that this will result in a special election for this seat on the 2012 ballot. This means that we will have three seats to elect in the 2012 election - those held by Marilyn Kelly and Stephen Markman, which will be for eight-year terms (through 1/1/2021); and one for the seat held by Corrigan's yet-to-be-named successor, which will be for the remaining two years of Corrigan's 2007-2015 term. (Note that the 2-year partial term will be listed separately from the 8-year regular terms).

While we're on this topic, Justice Marilyn Kelly, a Democrat, is over 70, so she won't be able to run again. That means we will have an open seat on the Court in 2012 - one that you know the other party will contend very heavily. And you know they will campaign for all three of their candidates together, like they did for Bob Young and Mary Beth Kelly (as opposed to the fragmented approach MDP leaders took in 2010).

In 2012, what is now a 4-3 Republican majority could turn into a 4-3 Democratic majority again - or it could be a 5-2 majority for either side. Since incumbency is much less of a guarantee for incumbents than it was just a few years ago, let's see what we can make of this!


You Did A Lot of Good, Jen: A Farewell to Gov. Granholm

First Lady Abigail Bartlet is chatting with her husband, Jed, as the Sun rises on the day he is to leave office. After wondering out loud why an outdoor inauguration is held in the middle of January, the outgoing First Couple pause for a moment before Abby says to the President, "You did a lot of good, Jed."

"A lot of good."

That, of course, is from the opening scene of the series finale of The West Wing. But that scene could easily be played out this morning in Michigan's Governor's Residence, with Dan Mulhern telling his wife that "You did a lot of good, Jen. A lot of good."

The circumstances are different, and unlike Bartlet making way for a fellow Democrat, Granholm is succeeded by a Republican (although one who claims to be a moderate - the proof will be in the pudding). But in her eight years guiding this state through some of its most challenging times, Jennifer Mulhern Granholm has great reason to be proud of all the good that she has done. I know I am proud of her, as I was before and always will be. So as she leaves office at noon today, I would like to introduce you to one of the most visionary leaders Michigan has had.

A Rising Star

October 5, 2000.

Mom and I waited several hours to see the Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, energize a crowd of supporters in traditionally Republican West Michigan. Fresh off his first of three debates with George W. Bush, Gore did not disappoint those of us who crowded into Calder Plaza.

But while he may have been the star of the show, someone else played a supporting role that proved her to be a rising star in politics and the Democratic Party. A rising star who energized the crowd by presenting a "top 10" list of reasons why she was proud to support Gore. That star was the state's Attorney General, Jennifer Granholm.

In early 2001, Granholm announced that she would run for Governor. Running on the slogan of "Protecting Our Families, Educating Our Kids," Granholm faced off against a field of Democratic candidates that included David Bonior, the longtiome congressman and (important in Michigan) friend of labor, and Jim Blanchard, the two-term Governor from the 1980s who served as President Clinton's first Ambassador to Canada. (Two other candidates garnered too little support to get on the ballot.)

Behind in the early polls, she won the primary by a convincing 20 points. Despite her early lead in the general-election polls against Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, Posthumus closed the gap considerably. Thankfully, on Election Day 2002 - a day that would otherwise turn out less than ideal for Democrats - Jennifer Granholm was elected the state's first female governor.

On January 1, 2003, at noon, US Appeals Court Judge Damon Keith swore in his former Clerk, Jennifer Granholm, as the 47th Governor of the State of Michigan. I remember being in my basement, watching as Granholm repeated the oath from Judge Keith, concluding with Keith saying, "So Help Me..." followed by Granholm's "So help me..." and then, both of them together, exclaiming, "God!"

In front of a cheering crowd at the State Capitol, a great leader took her place in Michigan history and began eight years of dedication and service to the most wonderful state in the union. And I, a high school sophomore at the time, couldn't be happier to meet her, along with First Gentleman (and author) Dan Mulhern and Lt. Gov. John Cherry at a family celebration two days after she took office.

An Accomplished Leader

Granholm's eight years as Governor of Michigan could be best described as "Greatness through Challenge" - the title of one of her early State of the State addresses. To say the least, her tenure has been one of enormous challenge - high unemployment, massive structural budget deficits, and a legislature that was at least partially in Republican hands throughout her tenure.

And yet, what she has accomplished is astounding.

(The above link is the source for many of the following facts and figures.)

It's no secret that Michigan has been one of the most economically ravaged states in the nation - thanks in part to the state's dependence on manufacturing. Through such efforts as the 21st Century Jobs Fund, the creation of which Granholm spearheaded, Michigan has saved more than 650,000 jobs. She has also created the No Worker Left Behind program, which has helped to retrain workers who have been laid off. While Michigan's unemployment rate is now around 12%, one can hardly imagine how much worse it would have been without her leadership. What would have happened if we'd had a governor who did not think government could do anything for the economy?

But what to do about diversifying our economy to make it less dependent on a sector that has not done well? And what about the many environmental issues that we as humans face, but that many politicians choose to ignore? Thankfully, Granholm has made diversifying Michigan's economy a top priority. Her chief focus has been establishing a solid footing for an emerging alternative industry in Michigan.

She was also responsible for helping to grow such industries as medicine and tourism. In the past eight years, thanks in part to Granholm's leadership, Grand Rapids has become home to the Medical Mile, where research in health and medicine has found a home. Granholm also oversaw the creation of the Pure Michigan campaign, rated one of the best and most successful tourism campaigns in the nation.

Then there's the issue of education. While the national conversation on education often focuses on bureaucratic matters, Granholm has instead focused on students. Understanding that a sound education system is a must for 21st-century America, Granholm shepherded into law legislation that has raised the standards in our schools so that students will be better prepared for college. As a result, dropout rates are on the decline, while college enrollment is at a record high. She has also shown leadership in supporting higher education, with the Michigan Promise Scholarship (now defunct, but no less loved by students) and the Cherry Commission on Higher Education, of which Lt. Gov. John Cherry played a leading role.

While other states have cut their budgets on the backs of the less fortunate, Granholm has left the safety net untouched. She reached a deal in 2007 to address the state's structural deficit by raising the state's income tax rate from 3.9% to 4.35%. She understands that government does have a role to play in the quality of life of our citizens, so she chose the route that was more difficult. For her courage, I will always be thankful.

It's worth noting that Michigan is now ranked as having the 17th best business climate in the nation, up from 27th place at the end of the supposedly 'pro-business' John Engler's 12-year tenure. Ours is also the third best state when it comes to bringing new businesses. In the past few months, our unemployment rate has dropped three times as fast as the national rate.

But how successful has she really been as a leader? Consider this: Despite a Legislature where the Senate has been in Republican hands since 1983 and remained so throughout her tenure, and despite the state House being in Republican hands in her first term, 80% of the proposals she laid out in State of the State addresses became policy.

The Comeback Kid

Still, not much more tells the story of how tough Granholm is than the difficult campaign she faced in 2006.

In the spring of 2005, the Democratic Party was in shambles. George W. Bush - yes, George W. Bush - had just been given a second term. Michigan did not appear to be recovering from the 2001 recession as quickly as the rest of the country. Granholm, once immensely popular, faced the very real possibility of a decisive defeat at the polls in November 2006.

Heir to the Amway fortune, the wealthy Dick DeVos announced his campaign in June of 2005. DeVos started airing ads in February of 2006 - after all of his Republican opponents had dropped out of the race, and nearly a year before the general election itself. By April, the race was a dead heat.

But this Governor had willpower on her side.

Interesting side note: One of my favorite memories of my college years at Central Michigan University occurred on my final night of my first semester as a freshman at CMU. All but done with the semester, save for an in-class freshman composition essay for which we really couldn't study, I decided to head out into the cold and snow to the house of Dr. Charles Novitski. Dr. Novitski was faculty advisor for the College Democrats at CMU, a group with which I became involved soon after coming to campus that fall. Dr. Novitski was hosting a social gathering to assist Granholm's re-election campaign the following year. She spoke through a live stream to social gatherings around the state that were similar to this one. That night was a catalyst of sorts for my involvement in the Isabella County Democratic Party, with which I have made many great memories and met many great friends.

Anyway, as the campaign progressed, the summer showed signs that Granholm could be in for a trouncing at the polls. But after she and the state Democrats started airing ads and getting their message across, she started to come back. After her dominating performance in a debate in early October, she took the lead, never to look back.

On Election Night 2006, as a number of CMU and Isabella Democrats gathered at the Bird, perhaps Mt. Pleasant's most popular bar, we watched as the returns from around the nation came in. Down went Santorum. Down went DeWine. Republican control of the House was in peril, and the Senate looked like it could flip. Then, after 9PM (when the polls had closed in the western UP), I looked at CNN's election results ticker.

Michigan. Governor. Checkmark by Granholm's name. "There's Jenny! She won!" I declared, the comeback complete. Granholm cruised to a 56-42% re-election victory. The only thing that would beat that is what happened two years later.

A Bright Future

On that cool day at Calder Plaza in 2000, I saw in Jennifer Granholm a leader with a bright future. Now that her time as Governor is over, I still see a leader whose future is just as bright as ever. Speculation abounds that President Obama has a spot for her in the Cabinet, at least in his second term (if he wins, of course). Her name was mentioned for a Supreme Court appointment. She has said that she does have a job lined up for after she leaves office, but that she won't announce that until later this month. Before that happens, she and her family will take a vacation in a warmer climate.

These have obviously been very difficult years here in Michigan. And I won't pretend she was perfect. But Jennifer M. Granholm has shown all of us how to lead with dignity, grace, and levelheadedness. The woman who promised to protect or families and educate our kids, has done so. A leader of character, Granholm leaves a legacy of which we can all be proud.

So as I recall that Gore rally in 2000, as I recall her election and inauguration in 2002 and 2003, as I recall the times I met her, the social gathering at Dr. Novitski's house, her 2006 triumph, and other great times, I recall a visionary leader whose time as Governor has concluded, but whose legacy will last for decades to come.

Thank you, Ms. Granholm, for all you have done for Michigan. We will miss you very much. All the best to you and your family!