Michigan’s Local Leaders Turn Against Zombie Republican Lawmakers

The Courser-Gamrat affair, while tawdry in its details, remains the act of two nutty freshmen lawmakers, and simply does not rise to the ethically criminal category found in the dereliction of duty of Republican leadership in Lansing.

Blame, Only Where Blame is Due

As predicted, the Michigan shit show known as the Courser-Gamrat Affair is now slated to suck all the oxygen out of the legislature, preventing the already inept body from getting around to roads, among other apparently impossible legislative aerobic feats. The recalcitrant Tea Party duo’s refusal to step down will certainly occupy the whimsies of the less-than-august, term-limited body of lawmakers well into their fall session.

The House committee appointed to further investigate on the topic of any tangential wrongdoing stemming from Gamrat and Courser’s original sin, will likely recommend either censure or expulsion — culminating in days, if not weeks, of moral posturing, amid promises to act quickly over concern that the continued presence of the lusty lawmakers will further erode the legislature’s already subterranean approval rating among voters.

But, it will not be the Tea Party twosome that ultimately tanks public opinion on Michigan’s 98th Legislature — lawmaker’s themselves should really earn full credit there, plus bonus points, for their inertial bankruptcy.

Local leaders are publicly saying as much.

It’s the Zombie Lawmakers, Not the Lovebirds, Destroying Lansing’s Image


Approximation: Michigan’s Republican Leadership

City, county, and township leaders across Michigan are increasingly fed-up with month after month of ideologue-based blather and inaction out of Lansing. The no-new-tax Norquist-pledge-takers have rendered a sizable number of elected officials as mere zombie lawmakers — do-nothing placeholders for their locked-in districts, priority issues be damned.

A new poll by Michigan Public Policy Survey, conducted by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy out of the University of Michigan, found rising ire and frustration among local units of government over the incompetence and incessant political incantations at the state level.

Just how poorly are Michigan’s lawmakers perceived? MPPS has been tracking it over the years. There was a significant shift with this new legislature — in the wrong direction.

Local on the legislature chart

Source: Michigan Public Policy Survey, August 2015

Here are some local leader comments on the problems with Lansing published in the August 2015 MPPS report:

“Legislators are not governing. They are beholden to special interests and short-term issues. There isn’t any political will to address the structural issues facing the state. The State cannot cut its way out of the situation.”

“Priorities of the current legislature are too focused on an extreme partisan agenda rather than what’s best for the State.”

“The State of Michigan has taken money away from local governments through reductions in revenue sharing and personal property tax revenue. They then said it is the local governments’ fault for having financial woes. They are trying to lead from a top down approach to restrict local government autonomy to make decisions. They need to focus on reducing laws and regulations that restrict growth and waste business and people’s time.”

“While we are led to believe things in urban areas of Michigan and Michigan in general are improving, there is no indication of this at all in my area. High unemployment, no job opportunities, very low wages, nothing has changed. If anything gotten worse due to suspension of unemployment benefits and still no jobs, no sign of changes are seen. As most who live in this area have said, we are always in a recession so we never know any different, we live the same all the time. I think the things that have been changed to allow politicians to profess the false claims of improvement are things that affect normal everyday people trying to make a living.”

In recent months, MPPS has also conducted a number of other surveys of local leaders to take their temperature on specific Michigan issues. Back in February, they queried on the topic of roads and infrastructure funding. The results were stark — roads are a major priority in the state. Some comments:

“Have been just patching, but it is a losing deal. We’ll have to go to gravel for a quarter of roads within two years!”

“We put more money from the general fund into roads and streets this year. I’m concerned that we’re not paying down enough for our long term pension obligations and OPEB to maintain the roads.”

“Cut costs on operating and cut departments such as our police department.”

“Our roads have deteriorated and we have gone from well-maintained, properlyDSCF1045 repaired roads to quick fixes and cheap patching. We have a 1.5 extra voted millage that helps, but support from [the] County for road maintenance has greatly diminished.”

“Turned 4 miles of local hard surface roads back to gravel. Reduced road improvement miles due to increased costs and less general fund money to use on road projects. Delayed, indefinitely, ditch cleaning and maintenance due to lack of funds and reduced man power.”

“We apply for as many grants as are available. All our local and major road work in the last few years has been done with grant dollars or it does not get done.”

“Allowed roads to deteriorate [and] undertake some borrowing to ensure cash is available to match federal funding.” 

The Courser-Gamrat affair, while tawdry in its details, remains the act of two nutty freshmen lawmakers, and simply does not rise to the ethically criminal category found in the dereliction of duty of Republican leadership in Lansing.

Not surprisingly, a March 2015 MPPS survey found that more than 4 out of 10 local officials question the ethics of Michigan’s lawmakers.

DSCN0444Amy Kerr Hardin

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One Response to Michigan’s Local Leaders Turn Against Zombie Republican Lawmakers

  1. I wish it was easy to email your articles to others.

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