But on the porch of the Grand Hotel, conversation quickly turned to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the eight felony counts against him involving his conduct in office, and the crisis that has griped the city for months.
"It's what people want to talk about," said Detroit Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel, who was flanked by her council staffers.
... we have learned what is really important to the conference attendees.
The issue getting the most support was not about politics, manufacturing or education.
"We have made arrangements with the Grand Hotel that televisions will be available to watch the Red Wings and the Pistons," Leslie Murphy, president of Murphy Consulting and chairwoman of the policy conference, told the roughly 1,700 people who had registered.
Her announcement was met with cheers and applause.
And while Mike Bishop was trying to mislead people on the mess the Senate Republicans have created with the tax situation...
"Yes, we are going to do something," said Bishop, R-Rochester. "There's a lot to be done. It's a new tax and we knew there would have to be adjustments."
... it comes out that due to "legislative bickering", Michigan is going to miss out on millions of dollars in federal money that would have went to airport construction projects.
More than 100 Michigan airports could be on the verge of losing tens of millions of dollars in federal money for improvements because the Legislature remains deadlocked in a game of election-year politics.
At the very least, major projects may be delayed until 2009 since the construction season has been shortened by lawmakers' inability to compromise.
Airports have until Sunday to tell the Federal Aviation Administration their intention to use federal funding to extend runways and make other upgrades. But the airports do not have the money because the Legislature adjourned Wednesday without allocating it and does not plan to return until next week.
How much we talking here? $163 million, $56 million of that is discretionary, meaning the FAA could give it to some other state. Take a look at Wayne County for example.
"We are becoming extremely alarmed about this," said Michael Conway, spokesman for the Wayne County Airport Authority, which operates Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Willow Run Airport. The airports are set to get $59 million in federal funds, $44 million of which could go to other states.
"Here's the federal government willing to give money to a state with a struggling economy," Conway said. "How can you fumble that? It's beyond me how the Legislature can't agree to accept it."
Basically, House Democrats want to include money for college construction projects in the capital outlay budgets, and the Senate won't go along with that. So back and forth they have sent these bills; House members wanting money for their districts in this election year, and Senate Republicans blocking that under the guise of not wanting to "borrow money". Yeah, right. Republicans are all about borrowing the money - what makes them think that people will believe they have suddenly had a change of heart on that front? Mike got one thing right-
"People think we don't know how to run the government," Bishop said.
Gee, Mike, wonder why they would think that. Maybe it's because you can't seem to get anything done. The renewable portfolio standard and energy bills, the Great Lakes water compact, the smoking bill, these capital outlay budgets, all left undone while you guys live it up and at the same time have the audacity to complain about the state of the Michigan economy.
It's simply more obstruction and stalling on the part of the Senate - as I've said before, Republicans need things to be bad in Michigan. They have no interest in progress or helping the citizens of Michigan; lack of action creates more problems and therefore election issues for them to use. It costs us everyday in money and jobs; these airport projects are just one example.
Have fun at the party. We'll be waiting when you get back.