Question 1): Last week, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission finally released its maps for Michigan’s 13 Congressional Districts, 38 state Senate seats, and 110 enclaves in the state House of Representatives. How has the ICRC done so far, and will the maps hold up?
Answer 1)): Obviously, holding closed-door meetings, only to be told by virtually EVERYBODY, especially the state Supreme Court, that they can’t do that, was an embarrassing blunder. Whatever else the commissioners may do in coming months, they’ve got to clean up that mess. But all that, plus other missteps they’ve made, pale in comparison with the ultimate question — whether their maps will pass muster in various courts of law in coming months. We’re not not even close to the end of the process. The maps released last week have already unleashed an avalanche of new criticism, particularly on the ICRC’s novel interpretation of the Voting Rights Act. A torrent of of litigation is about to begin. Every aspect of the commissioners’ work will be scrutinized, and any errors in procedure will be used to invalidate their work. In the end, commissioners may decide that defending and justifying their final product was actually more time-consuming and energy-draining than creating the maps in the first place.
Question 2): Is James Craig’s gubernatorial campaign fatally flawed? Is the former Detroit Police Chief as miserable a candidate as he seems to be? Can he do anything to turn things around?
Answer 2): The initial game plan of Craig’s handlers seemed to be that he was the instant prohibitive favorite to land the Republican nomination for Governor. However, in the last half of 2021 he’s squandered most if not all of that perception. He doesn’t seem able to connect with Trump Republicans other than through his Johnny One Note ‘law and order’ issue, and he hasn’t been able to put together a coherent agenda otherwise that will enable him to gain the support of more traditional mainstream Republicans in a GOP primary, much less in the general election. There are two likely outcomes for whomever the 2022 Republican candidate for Governor is: win by just enough, or get blown out like Republican nominee Bill Lucas in 1986. Yes, Craig can get some help by tying Gretchen Whitmer to President Joe Biden every chance he gets, but he needs to do a lot more than that — he needs to develop skills that he has given no evidence he possesses, such as holding media events where he can give evidence that he can engage in give-and-take on difficult issues. To paraphrase what someone once said, he can run but he can’t hide. It’s already caught up with him.
Question 3): Michigan’s national image seems to have become: ‘You can’t drink the water here.’ Half a dozen years ago, Democrats hoped that then-Gov. Rick Snyder’s troubles with the Flint Water Crisis could permanently damage his and the Republican Party’s reputation in a way that that would cost them at the polls. So, now, considering the Whitmer administration’s missteps with Benton Harbor’s water system, can the current governor avoid being blamed, whether she deserves it or not?
Answer 3:) No administration can escape blame for current conditions on a number of issues if things go wrong. Voters see the latest news and wonder “Why, if you’re in charge, are things not being fixed?” Whatever is fouled up at the time ultimately ends up on a list of problems that seem worse ‘under this Governor.’ And because Michigan’s identity is largely associated with the Great Lakes and our many inland lakes, our national image is uniquely tied to that issue, and any damage to that reputation seems to linger longer. If there are multiple communities experiencing issues with their water systems — especially drinking water — that’s a net negative for the governor. No question, Whitmer has to get her act together on the water issue, or else it will plague her campaign right up to November. Remember, Snyder never had to face voters on the Flint situation because he had already been re-elected and was term-limited. Whitmer, however will be seeking four more years.
Question 4): ) Lake Superior State University in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has had a lot of fun over the past four and a half decades publishing an annual year-end lighthearted list of words and phrases that should be “banished” from common usage. What were the 10 “winners” this year chosen from among more than 1,250 submissions of overused, misused and generally groan-inducing words or phrases?
Answer 4): According to the Associated Press, LSSU judges this year have a message for texting and tweeting Americans: Your “Wait, what?” joke is lame. “Wait, what?” irritated the judges, who felt the phrase, intended to show astonishment or disbelief, is overused. “I hate it,” one wrote. Another added: “I don’t want to wait.”
The second slot went to another misused and overused phrase: “No worries.” Nominators said it’s dismissive. “If I’m not worried, I don’t want anyone telling me not to worry,” one contributor said. “If I am upset, I want to discuss being upset.”
The university began compiling an annual list in 1976. Past nods have gone to “détente,” “surely,” “classic,” “bromance,” and “COVID-19.”
There are only three entries associated with COVID this year after the pandemic dominated last year’s list.
“One possible takeaway from all this about the act and art and science of disclosing something is that ‘The more things change, the more things stay the same,’ said Peter Szatmary, executive director of marketing and communications at the Sault Ste. Marie university. “At the very least, it’s complicated.”
“New normal” is ranked No. 8, and nominators criticized its overuse and questioned the logic behind the phrase. “After a couple of years, is any of this really ‘new’?” one wrote.
“You’re on mute,” and “supply chain,” rounded out the list — a nod to our continued reliance on virtual meetings and widely reported shortages of consumer products ranging from computer chips to furniture.
“Supply chain issues have become the scapegoat of everything that doesn’t happen or arrive on time and of every shortage,” one nominator said.
dan murphy says
Safe drinking water, along with sound sewer and water infrastructure issues, have been “topics for discussion” over many generations. However, Governors and Legislators of both Parties have escaped responsibility ,and accountability of bringing about solutions.
John Duncan says
New non-phrases could be….I’m so excited,. Landscape,. to die for,.
We need an Independent type governor. No more Republicans please. Stop the whitmer bashing and boot Tim Skubeck. Wait for more choices, stop thinking like you know everything . Granholm saved our water rights ……. No one since has helped with that. And yes I’m a retired State employee, who worked in Water Quality. Tighten down on pollutors, such as Dow, Dupont,. Monsanto…. fund the watchdogs !
John C Stewart says
In-depth analysis and insight. Can’t thank you enough. I say my best Presbyterian prayers for you -Bill Ballenger- on Sunday night because that is when I think you are writing “The Ballenger Report”
TIMOTHY K SULLIVAN says
Nice article, as usual, Bill.
As for Question 1, the ICRC did get three of the Supremes to agree with them (would be interesting if the Freep holds that against them the next time they run).
As for lawsuits, David Eggert is reporting some current and former black lawmakers have already said they will file suit. But their biggest problem is who defends them.
Their in-house counsel or Nessel? If that is what they have, I’d bet against the ICRC winning.
The problem is Detroit having ~ 630,000 people in it, making it impossible to get two congressional districts more or less set in Detroit without creating the gerrymandered abortion of Rep. Lawrence’s current CD to get to majority/minority status. It would be funny if to achieve what the aforementioned lawmakers want in their lawsuit leaves with us a gerrymandered mess worse than what is coming out of Illinois, but unlike their giving us GOP dominated state legislature which is what the 2010 redistricting did.
As for Question 2, Chief Craig is discovering police politics is not the same as the politics that gets one elected to public office. I don’t know if he can learn this quickly or not. His press people should be harping on the $8.5 BILLION lost in COVID UIA fraud and pointing out how many cops, firefighters, teachers and the like could be hired with that money. It would require that he hopes we all ignore what Snyder did to UIA and how it as an agency has not recovered from his reign of error.
As for Question 3, you got a bunch of Federal money. I would suggest we clean up the water, get rid of the lead pipes and go after the polluters. That should be the first thing Gov. Whitmer does, then pointing out the lax regulations, the stripping of various departments of staff needed to enforce even the stripped down regs done in the name of placating business has been a disaster. And it has.
That would make for some interesting politics. Who knows, maybe Detroit TV stations will seriously dedicate resources to covering state government again. Jim Kiertzner could use some help.
The days of Frank Kelley are looong gooone!
Kurt Van Koevering says
The Redistricting Committe is another example of how out of touch our government has become. In the western side of the state the 89th district has only two blocks in one township included in the district. How are the poll workers going to distribute ballots for that precinct. Think about how cumbersome it is going to become for our clerks to tabulate ballots. We hear about all the untabulated ballots in 2020, just wait until 2022.