Thursday, May 06, 2010

Dillon Campaign Looks to Blame City Leaders for Consequences of Budget Cuts

It's somewhat surprising that the Dillon campaign would stoop so low as to employ the "Blame the Victim" strategy against Michigan's city leaders, when Andy himself has proven to be the master at passing the buck on his responsibility to our state and the safety of our citizens. In light of the Dillon campaign's allegations that Mayor Virg Bernero is somehow negligent because his city has been forced to make budget cuts and one scumball slipped through the cracks, it's important to rise above the details in this tactic and point out that this has been Andy's style of leadership all along - quick to point the finger of blame at others (especially fellow Democrats), while he makes all kinds of excuses for his own behavior.

The Dillon campaign wants to talk about "priorities". The Dillon campaign wants to talk about "tough decisions". OK. Let's do that. Let's show how Andy Dillon wears the mantle of responsibility when it comes to his decision to submit all control of the budget to the "drown government" Republicans in the Senate, and ask local leaders and citizens alike to shoulder the burden for his lack of leadership when it comes to protecting crucial services. If he wants to question our city's leaders decisions, it's only fair that we look at how he has dealt with questions about his own.

Last year, after promising us the they would fight for a budget that protects Michigan's priorities in public safety, education and health care, Andy Dillon and and his selected batch of House Democrats rolled over for the Senate Republicans at the last minute and cut revenue sharing to Michigan cities by another 11%. This came after eight years of cuts had reduced the amount of revenue sharing available to Michigan cities by $3 billion dollars, and "cost some 2,000 local police officers and 2,400 local firefighters their jobs." City leaders across the state have had to make agonizing decisions as they scramble to keep their citizens safe; eliminating crucial jobs and services, holding special elections to beg the voters for revenue, while lawmakers in Lansing continued to pass the problems right on down the line.

So, it's a bit curious that Speaker Dillon would question Bernero's leadership, when he seemingly can't be held responsible for his leadership of the House. According to Andy, when it comes to taking those tough votes, why, it must be the Governor's fault!

"The governor never built relationships (with legislators)," Dillon said. "That's why it's difficult for her to get votes when she needs them."

Ah. So when it came to protecting public safety, House Democrats under Dillon's leadership somehow couldn't be bothered to consider the needs of their constituents. It's an admission that the games being played in Lansing are more important than doing the right thing for the state - and that Dillon lacks the ability to rally his own people. Makes you wonder how he was ever elected leader of that chamber, doesn't it?

But that's not all. There is more blame to be had here. After Bishop "broke his deal" in 2007, for some reason, Speaker Dillon choose to enter into another "deal" last year - and lo and behold, Mike Bishop turned around and did it again! Imagine!

But Bishop broke that deal, Dillon said, only giving revenue increases a cursory look without any serious consideration.

“Bishop was saying if they send (revenue plans) over, we’ll consider it,” Dillon said. “Well we did it last year and the consideration wasn’t very thoughtful. So we got a problem. Bishop, last year, was very direct. He said ‘There’s not one vote in my caucus for taxes.’ And then I said, ‘If I sent (revenue proposals) over, would you put them up for a vote?’” Dillon said. “He wouldn’t even promise that.”

If that is the case, sounds like Dillon entered into a very shaky "deal" - and then wanted to blame Bishop because it didn't happen. No matter. Either way, Speaker Dillon's judgment led him to trust someone who has more than proven themselves to be untrustworthy, and the citizens of Michigan, as well as city leaders like Virg Bernero, ultimately will pay the price for that bad decision.

Turns out that Dillon was more than ready to give Republican Bishop a pass on breaking any deal though. It's was all about Bishop's future career, you see, and that made Dillon's failures of judgment OK. And when it really comes down to it, it was you, citizens of Michigan, who are at fault here. After the Democrats in the House asked for your vote and told you that they would lead in the legislature and protect vital services, you were supposed to beg them to do their jobs!

Dillon said he counted on public pressure to force Republicans to approve more revenue to restore cuts to schools, Medicaid, revenue sharing and the Michigan Promise college scholarship.

But "the pressure's not building," he said. "The problem that's causing is people assume they can accept these cuts. It's business as usual in the capital, but these cuts are real."

Let's recap. When it comes to Speaker Dillon's decisions about budget priorities - it's the Governor's fault, it's Mike Bishop's fault, it's the public's fault. Dillon has zero responsibility here, even though he is the Speaker of the House. Now, he wants to question Bernero's leadership and budget priorities. And this comes after Dillon passed a budget with deep cuts to our cities (not to mention education) - and then made all kinds of excuses for his behavior.

Just think, if he somehow gets elected to be governor, and then predictably lays down on the job once again, well, that will be your fault too. Plenty of blame to go around when it comes to Dillon's failures - just as long as you don't scrutinize Andy. He can't be held responsible for himself. Don't say you weren't warned.