Wednesday, March 24, 2010

L. Brooks Patterson Tells Bishop to Back Off on the MEGA Outrage

Teabagger Extraordinaire Republican Tom McMillin, in reaction to the news that convicted embezzler Greg Short of RASCO had received a $9.1 million dollar MEGA tax credit:

“We want to find out what we can do to get back the taxpayers’ $9.1 million,” the Rochester Hills Republican told The Associated Press.

This was the first indication that Republicans were going to immediately turn this situation into their next piece of "Pandering Outrage Performance Art". Representative McMillin should know that no cash upfront is involved in granting MEGA credits; companies receive a tax credit based on the number of jobs they create - and that comes after verification that they have created the jobs. No jobs, no tax credit. The taxpayers never lost any money on this deal, so either McMillin doesn't know how this program works and therefore should not speak to it, or he was embellishing the severity to rile up "the base".

Same goes for Mike Bishop. Lagging in his race for Attorney General and just looking for an excuse to get some juicy publicity, he jumped on the story as well, calling for immediate investigations to "every credit package awarded by the state", and off we go down the distraction trail once again.

MEDC and Governor Granholm immediately moved to review procedures, and were very forthcoming in admitting that mistakes were made here. Embezzler Greg Short had omitted the fact that he was on parole, and had provided convincing financial evidence to the MEGA board that he was in fact credible. While details on the finances can't be released due to an upcoming State Police investigation, MEDC CEO Greg Main told a House Committee that "we were provided information that suggests he did have the cash", as well as offers from the competing states of Virginia and New York.

Granholm has signed an executive order that changes MEDC procedures to make sure this doesn't happen again. Main has offered to resign, gentleman that he is, but this was a case of a con artist that fooled the entire system, not the fault of one particular employee. It also should be pointed out that most of the companies that apply for credits are already established; Of the 600 credits awarded since the year 1994, only 20 are start up businesses, and those have come in the past couple of years. Going to do background checks on GM? Or an international company like Fiat? Of course not.

Mistakes were made, that is true. And they are being corrected. Now the worry becomes that the roadblocks the Legislature wants to put in place, and perhaps the continued trumpeting of this issue by people that are caught up in election season fever, are going to scare away potential new deals (and jobs) as Republicans may try to milk this for all it's worth.

Enter L. Brooks Patterson, who is going to grab Senator Bishop by the scruff of his neck and tell him to "knock it off". From Gongwer:

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) has said a Senate committee will review every credit awarded, but Mr. Patterson said he was meeting with Mr. Bishop to encourage them not to be too extreme in the review.

Don't mess with Brooks. Brooks is a big fan of MEDC. Oakland County has been on the receiving end of many economic deals, and they don't want new ones held up in any way, shape or form. Patterson admits that this could have happened to him as well.

But any government that engages in trying to attract companies runs the risk of such a scandal occurring, Mr. Patterson said, including Oakland County. “I’m sure my turn’s coming one of these days,” he said.

“This guy was a con man, that was his modus operandi, and that’s what got him into trouble in the first place, and he’s good at what he does,” Mr. Patterson said, “because he conned the M.E.D.C. and the governor.”

And he even admits that our economy is on the upswing.

“These folks are being courted,” he said. The scandal of the potential fraud could not have erupted at a worst time for the state, he said. Because Michigan’s economy is so weak it desperately needs all the new developments it can capture, and because the economy is starting to show some life some companies are indicating interest in the state."

Man, I hate it when Brooks Patterson is the voice of reason. He's a lot more fun when he's all riled up and being bombastic - but he is correct in this instance. You pry too much into company finances, or delay the process, and we will lose business.

So, knock off the show, Republicans. You too, tag-along Dillon. Yes, we need to conduct background checks, especially on the start-ups, and that will be done - but we don't need any continued attempts to score political points here. Time to take our lumps and quietly move on.