Thursday, April 29, 2010

Campaign Stunt? Mike Bishop Ignores Serious Issues to Play Partisan Games

Your schools are being cut to shreds, layoffs of teachers and the loss of important classes loom as administrators wait for Lansing to finish both the early retirement legislation and the general education budget. Your city is pulling cops and firefighters off the streets, raising your insurance rates and putting your safety at risk, as city leaders wait for Lansing to see if revenue sharing will be cut again. Your roads are falling apart as transportation officials wait for Lansing to come up with funding. And on and on and on. These are just a few examples of the serious issues that are facing the state - and as of now, they are all being ignored so Mike Bishop can continue to play his partisan games and wreak havoc in office.

For those of us who have been reporting on Mike Bishop's activities for the past few years, this is nothing new. After all, it was Republican grandstanding on the part of Mike Bishop and Craig DeRoche that led to the shutdown of government in 2007, and the subsequent creation of the MBT surcharge. It was Mike Bishop, continuation budget in hand, who shut down the government in 2009 out of pure spite alone. It has been Mike Bishop, constantly saying "No!" to any sort of compromise on anything, ever, even over something as inconsequential as to where the texting ban fees will go. He knows that the House will never stand up to him, and he knows the press won't report it, so he has decided to be a one-man wrecking crew and keep Lansing dysfunctional to fit his extreme right-wing mantra that "government doesn't work."

Want to know why Lansing is broken? Look no farther than the behavior of Mike Bishop during his time in office. Yesterday was just another example in an endless series of examples on how he has diligently worked to keep our state government from addressing Michigan's problems. Instead of focusing on serious issues, Bishop chose to waste another day on gubernatorial appointments, rejecting well-qualified candidates out-of-hand, without hearing, just to... make the papers? Be a jerk? Continue his own private war on Governor Granholm? Distract people from the fact that the Republicans want Lansing to fail? What is it with this guy that he can't behave like an adult?

Perhaps it was to beat on the dead horse of his failing campaign for Attorney General. When you have media figures like Tim Skubick saying that Bill Schuette with his raft of big money endorsements is the "likely GOP nominee" for AG, well, Bishop has to do something to draw attention to himself, right? Time for another patented Bishop Hissy Fit.

His Senate colleagues called him out on it yesterday. Here's Deb Cherry:

In addition, it shows that we are having another unproductive and self-serving day in the State Senate. After focusing a full session day on this last week, Senate Republican leadership continues to focus on this political issue instead of addressing the bills to create jobs and help Michigan workers. To be honest, I am extremely disappointed and a little embarrassed that the Republican majority is expending so much effort on an issue that barely resonates outside the Capitol, let alone Lansing.

Mike Prusi brought up the Michigan Constitution, a valid and appropriate question for someone running to be Attorney General. You would think.

The Michigan Senate has not rejected university appointments without hearing in recent history. Over the last 20 years, no gubernatorial appointee—and that includes Governors of both political parties who have made appointments to the boards of control—has been rejected without at least giving them a hearing. The Constitution calls for fair and equitable treatment. If anybody can look me in the eye and say this is fair and equitable treatment of qualified appointees, I would ask you to reexamine your position. There has been no fair and equitable treatment.

Prusi also pointed out what many have already mentioned; what Governor Granholm is doing is common procedure, and that Engler made appointments right up until the very last second of his term. Current Republican Senators Garcia and Sanborn voted to approve those appointees during the last hours of the Engler administration, and, believe it or not - Republican Senator Kahn was one of those appointees. Doesn't get any more hypocritical than that.

Bruce Patterson was the lone Republican to stand up and vote against Bishop's unconstitutional behavior, and Senator Switalski also decried the "partisan hypocrisy" on display as he urged the chamber to pay attention to important issues. The governor's office called Bishop out in no uncertain terms.

"The citizens of this state and our state universities are the real losers today," Granholm press secretary Liz Boyd said in a statement. "Sen. Bishop rejected qualified appointees to serve our state universities, making them nothing more than partisan political pawns.

"He chose to ignore the advice of an attorney in his own caucus and rejected sitting board members like Doug Roberts, who Republicans have confirmed in the past, just to make a partisan point.

"Given his penchant for pushing such a personal, partisan agenda, it's no surprise that he is unwilling to work on bipartisan solutions to the more demanding issues, like the state budget, that are facing the state of Michigan."

Mike Bishop has made it very clear over the past three years that he has no intention of working to solve Michigan's problems. He will continue to obstruct progress until the day that he has to leave office. The only consolation the people of Michigan have is that he will most likely lose his race for Attorney General, and we won't have to worry about him abusing his power and position after December.

Until then, the added consolation is that he will drag every one of his enablers in the Legislature down with him. Republican polling firm Rasmussen indicates voters want them gone...

Fifty-five percent (55%) say it would be better for Michigan if most incumbents in the state legislature were defeated this November. Only 12% say it would be better for the state if most were reelected.

... and this number should continue to grow, as the year drags on and the lawmakers refuse to address the serious issues facing our state. Those that lose their elections this fall by virtue of their incumbency in Lansing may start to regret all the times they didn't stand up to Bishop's continuous obstruction of progress.

Maybe that is how it should be. We need lawmakers who will call out this kind of behavior for what it is. So far, only the Senate Democrats live up to that task. The silence and acceptance of Bishop's behavior by the leadership in the House has been nothing short of appalling - and they are going to pay a price for it this fall.

Too bad the people of this state have to continue to pay the price for it now.