Summer Of Love

August 2, 2002
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Raise your hand if you like Gov. JohnEngler right now.

Didn’t think so.

Somehow, the good (lame duck) guv has managed to water off just about everyone, regardless of political affiliation. At this rate, BudSelig will have a higher approval rating by the end of the month.

West Michigan, that hotbed of conservative Republicans? Not happy. In fact, government officials who are bemoaning the loss of state funding in the form of revenue sharing are downright angry.

City officials from Grandville to Ionia say Engler’s power trip will handcuff them when it comes to providing services for the local populace.

Fire and police cuts are on the way, unless the House and Senate vote to override the governor.

Indicative of the love emanating from West Michigan was a comment by Ionia City Manager TomWieczorek, whose town stands to lose $900,000 in revenue sharing. Ionia gets about twice the amount of revenue because it plays host to a correctional facility.

“I hope they don’t have a fire over there,” Wieczorek said, insinuating that the state might as well plan on taking care of its own prison.

Wieczorek said he’s been assured by lawmakers that the veto is “nothing personal,” but said the issue becomes very personal when he has to let go of staff members, tell others to take early retirement and cut back on the hours of nearly everyone.

So, where will the mighty guv turn for support?

Probably not his trusted lieutenant, DickPosthumus, the West Michigan alum who is waging his own campaign for the state’s power seat.

Word has it that Engler flew solo on this decision, leaving Posthumus in the unenviable position of defending something in which he had no say.

If that’s the case, then the nifty little headline from the Michigan Democratic Party has it all wrong. Last week’s press release read, “Engler/Posthumus, Drunk With Power, Try To Coerce Voters.”

Maybe only half the team was imbibing.

Mark Brewer, MDP chair, said Engler and Posthumus negotiated in bad faith with the Legislature, saying the cigarette tax increase would preserve revenue sharing funds. He said the cuts are a clear move by the administration to influence the outcome of several ballot issues in the upcoming election.

“This is just another in a long line of Republican attempts to coerce voters and tamper with elections, regardless of the consequences in literally every Michigan county, city, village and township,” Brewer said. “The Engler/Posthumus administration is playing games with the rights of Michigan voters and the safety of every community and family in Michigan.”

Hey, tell us how you really feel.

Or how about this from Healthy Michigan, one of those ballot issues (tobacco money) to which Brewer is referring: “Governor Should Stop Grandstanding and Punishing the Poor.”

The beginning of that missive reads, “Gov. John Engler should stop grandstanding and start governing and end his reign of terror on Michigan’s poorest families, Citizens for a Healthy Michigan said shortly after the governor’s ‘mean’ and ‘transparent’ vetoes of key budget issues.”

Ooohh, “reign of terror.” Really like that one.

OK, how about a group hug from the Republicans?

Uh, don’t think so.

Local legislators are lobbying the House and Senate leaders to set up an override vote.

Rep. JerryKooiman, R-Grand Rapids, has spoken to Speaker of the House RickJohnson several times and, in a letter to Johnson, appears ready to buck the good guv.

“In the case of the city of Grand Rapids, failure to override the veto of the governor will likely result in the layoff of 150 staff positions,” Kooiman wrote. “Because the city is already one month into their new budget year, they cannot wait until after the November election to determine whether to lay off those employees, because with the need for notice under federal worker protection lawas, they would be almost halfway through their budget year before they laid off those workers. They will likely issue notices and lay off those individuals within the next 45 days in an effort of fiscal discipline.”

Kooiman told Johnson it’s nothing personal. “I am sure the legislature would exercise the same fiscal discipline if the sate of Michigan found itself in a similar situation.”

Ouch.

And we’re only in August!

At the current rate, we can only wonder how much more macho chest-thumping and saber-rattling we can expect from the guv in the months ahead. And to think that he hasn’t even begun to fight what’s expected to become the biggest brawl and political main event of the year — reforming Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Perhaps the best way to settle that one is through one of those Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts. Bet FOX would carry that one live, too.

  • In the wake of Sept. 11, there has been a lot of flag waving, speech giving, button wearing and a renewed sense of community pride.

Here’s another suggested show of patriotism: Get out and vote tomorrow.

Secretary of State CandiceMiller predicted last week that voter turnout throughout the state tomorrow will be about 1.5 million, or nearly 22 percent of Michigan’s registered voters.

“Making these projections is not an exact science,” Miller said. “It involves looking at past primary elections with an eye on the current election environment.”

Maybe she’s not taking into account Sept. 11.

  • This week’s grbj.com survey pointed out that the daily newspaper said the community should deliberate long and hard over whether City Hall and the Kent County administration building should be preserved as historic sites rather than being razed to make way for a new hotel.

More than 64 percent of the online respondents strongly disagreed, and another 6 percent disagreed somewhat. About 12 percent agreed somewhat, and a like number had no opinion. Another 6 percent agreed strongly.

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