Street Talk

Street Talk: Winners, losers and in-betweens in Snyder’s SOS speech

Targets acquired.

January 17, 2014
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According to our friends at Inside Michigan Politics, there were some pretty clear winners and losers following Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address Thursday night. As they see it:

The winners: Senior citizens and Republicans. Seniors took their lumps in 2011 when Snyder pushed the unpopular pension tax. In IMP's bipartisan poll last November, Snyder trailed Democrat Mark Schauer by 10 points with voters 65+ — typically a GOP stronghold. This year, Snyder tried to win seniors back, promising a “special message” for them and advocating more funding for seniors’ home-delivered meals.

Democrats have been banging the drum for three years about Republicans’ $1.4 billion tax hike on individuals to pay for business tax cuts. But Snyder promised tax relief for middle-class families, although he notably buried this at the bottom of his speech since he’s still not a big fan. The tax cut is expected to be minimal, but in politics, that doesn't matter. Republicans can still trumpet that they did it, snatching a powerful issue from Dems in November.

The losers: Roads and the gay community. The centerpiece of Snyder’s 2013 SOS was raising more than $1 billion a year to fix Michigan’s bumpy roads. But Republicans and Democrats alike cringed at the tax and fee hikes it would take to get there, and no progress has been made. This year, Snyder may have spent a minute on roads and made a plea for “relentless positive action” on the issue. But it’s clear not much is going to happen, at least not until after the election.

Some Republicans have expressed interest in adding gays to the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act barring discrimination in jobs and housing, as 75 percent of Michigan voters support it. But Snyder, who signed a bill banning gay partner benefits for public workers, again ignored that issue in his speech. At the beginning, Snyder appeared to make an oblique reference to GOP National Committeeman Dave Agema, though not by name, who has compared gays to alcoholics and stated that Muslims haven’t contributed anything to society. The governor criticized “incivility.”

In terms of a split decision, that goes to the Tea Party.Members of these conservative groups must have been wincing at the beginning of Snyder’s address, as he touted a “greatest hits” of things they oppose — the new public bridge from Detroit to Canada, Medicaid expansion and a new state office for immigration. But toward the end, Snyder threw them some red meat by encouraging the state House and Senate to pass (non-binding) resolutions supporting a federal Balanced Budget Amendment. That was the biggest applause line of the night.

Pedal to the metal

Metal recycling? What?

In his State of the State message, Snyder slipped in a brief and very mysterious comment on how Michigan is encouraging legislative action regarding metal recycling.

Regarding what about metal recycling? More than one Michigander was somewhat perplexed about that. Was the One Tough Nerd raising an environmental issue?

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

However, we would like to think that he was obviously referring to a Jan. 6 Business Journal story (also seen on broadcast partner WZZM TV 13) headlined, “Businesses want law upgraded to deter scrap metal theft.”

The article penned by Business Journal reporter Pete Daly delved into a revised law that’s in the works to make it more difficult for people to sell scrap metal that doesn’t really belong to them. Stuff like aluminum bleacher seating, manhole covers and catalytic converters.

Next time, Gov. Snyder, feel free to quote directly from the article!

Two if by Land

You can tell the political season is heating up.

U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land spent the past week railing on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ recent comments that Michiganders struggling to comply with President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should simply “get in line.”

Sebelius held a press conference in Detroit last Wednesday and was asked what Michiganders who were worried about being fined, lacking coverage due to website glitches, or missing the tax credit deadline due to system overloads, could do to gain compliance. According to Land, her response to them was, “get in line.”

Will this be the most memorable sound bite of the campaign against Gary Peters? Too early to tell, but it’s a good start!

Land claims more than 225,000 Michigan families have lost their insurance plans due to Obamacare, “despite Congressman Peters and President Obama promising otherwise.”

Then, the Republican candidate (who, by the way, raised nearly $1.7 million in campaign funds last quarter), pretty much set about identifying each one of those 225,000 people.

OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but the former Kent County clerk did almost singlehandedly fill the email inboxes of every reporter and editor in West Michigan with the stories of people who are now allegedly without health insurance. Curiously, each missive contained a pair of examples, or the electronic damage could have been twice as bad.

Cookie fortunes

The storefront shop in downtown business incubator MoDiv for Monica’s Gourmet Cookies, home of the to-die-for Trio cookie (butterscotch, chocolate and peanut butter chips all in one), is no more.

The small space reportedly was set to close over the weekend. But that doesn’t mean the tasty treats created by Monica Mitidieri are gone. They’re still available in grocery stores throughout Michigan (as well as Big Bob’s Pizza in East Grand Rapids).

But the downtown foot traffic apparently wasn’t enough to support the venture. Yes, ArtPrize and the like brought plenty of customers to the Division Avenue cookie stand, but it’s the “down” times (like winter) that proved toughest.

Cookies fans might get a second chance, however, as word on the street is that Monica’s is applying to the city for a food cart permit. That should add a little more class to Blues on the Mall.

Safe and secure?

This is simply a hypothetical exercise, but it poses some interesting thoughts.

If a terrorist attack were to occur in West Michigan, what would be the likely targets?

Mike Moll, protective security advisor, Michigan District, for the Department of Homeland Security, visited with Downtown Rotary members last week on the topic of the Boston Marathon bombing and how that affected Grand Rapids.

He said Homeland Security personnel were “worried” about the Fifth Third River Bank Run, which is the second-largest road race in the country, shortly after the twin blasts in Boston. But that went off without a hitch.

He also mentioned the power plant in Ludington as a site that would likely be on terrorists’ radar because the facility is mostly run by water, which is unusual for a power source.

And if it were up to him, Moll said the first place he’d look would be the Soo Locks, because approximately 5 percent of the country’s ore is moved through there.

But what about locally? Moll said the best potential target in West Michigan would probably be the interchange of U.S. 131 and I-96, although there are some who would argue that area is already incapacitated during certain times of the day.

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