Deck slanted toward one-party government in Michigan

Last Sunday, the New York Times published an in-depth article on the rapidly growing number of states in which one political party – usually the GOP – controls all of state government.

That’s now the case in Michigan, where Republican Rick Snyder is governor and the GOP runs both houses of the legislature, and has a majority on the state Supreme Court.

The Times article traces the machinations of both political parties in setting up elaborate national networks that raise, distribute and deploy millions – mostly secret and unreported – aimed at one-party domination of state governments.

And it is working. There’s now single party control of the governorship and legislature in 36 of the 50 states, the most in 60 years. Of those, Democrats rule in 13, Republicans in 23.

Here’s how this worked in Michigan in 2010, according to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a non-partisan watchdog group headed by Rich Robinson. A political action committee set up by the national Republican Governors Association raised $8.4 million, virtually all from wealthy out-of-state donors. Most of this money was transferred to the Michigan Republican Party.

Meanwhile, Michigan political donors sent $8.5 million back to the Republican Governors Association, roughly what the group then spent in “independent” advertising to help elect Rick Snyder, on top of the money transferred directly to the Michigan GOP.

Robinson says he thinks the system was designed to help Michigan Republican business contributors, who could not give directly to the Snyder campaign, exchange their money for contributions from out-of-state individual donors, who legally could donate. Robinson thinks the system was designed to hide the actual sources of money from public disclosure and to grease a political system increasingly funded by big checks from donors far away.

With midterm elections coming up this year in every state, including Michigan, this system shows how clear-eyed and sophisticated today’s political donors are in realizing they’ll get more bang for their bucks by focusing on state elections than on persistent partisan trench warfare in Washington.

If you succeed in getting one-party government in a state, it’s possible to get a lot done for a relatively small investment.

Here’s one example: In Michigan, for example, our one-party government passed – in a single day in December 2012 – right-to-work legislation designed to clip the wings of unions, a result inconceivable under divided government. Now, speculation is rife in Lansing that this fall, a Republican-dominated legislature will pass during a post-election “lame duck” session radical revisions in the way Michigan’s electoral votes will be allocated in presidential elections.

That, in turn, raises the question of whether it’s better for a state to get things done under one-party government – as partisan an outcome as that is bound to be – or endure the gridlock that today seems the inevitable result of divided government.

Anybody who remembers the bitter years when Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm’s policy objectives were repeatedly frustrated by a Republican-dominated state senate needs to pause a moment before jumping at a quick answer to this question.

Another example: The net result of the Republican sweeps in the 2010 state elections has been many safe GOP congressional districts produced by sophisticated and effective one-party legislative gerrymandering. Incumbents of gerrymandered districts often don’t need to fret much about pleasing the electorate as a whole.

Many observers, including Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat who is the longest-serving congressman in history, attribute much of the recent legislative paralysis in Washington to GOP lawmakers in safely gerrymandered seats. Now, that’s not to suggest Republicans are the only ones doing this kind of stuff. As Democratic-dominated California and Illinois demonstrate, both parties are perfectly happy to dominate as much as possible, when they have an opportunity.

All of which raises the disturbing underlying question of whether our political system has managed to evolve in such a way as to focus largely on the needs and interests of partisan insiders at the expense of ordinary citizens who don’t care much about political parties, and just want a system of government that works for them.

Many readers, no doubt, remember Aesop’s fable of the scorpion and the frog. The scorpion asks the frog to carry him across the river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion says in that case, they would both drown.

So they start off and, sure enough, in the middle of the river the scorpion stings the frog. As they go down, the frog gasps “Why?”

“It’s in my very nature,” the scorpion replies.

About The Author

Phil Power

Former newspaper publisher and University of Michigan Regent Phil Power is a longtime observer of Michigan politics and economics. He is also the founder and chairman of the Center for Michigan, a nonprofit, bipartisan centrist think–and–do tank, designed to cure Michigan’s dysfunctional political culture; the Center publishes Bridge Magazine. The opinions expressed here are Power’s own and do not represent the official views of the Center. He welcomes your comments at ppower@hcn.net.

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Comments

Rich
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 8:39am
We can see the effects of divided government - gridlock, deficit spending, nothing really getting done. We can see the effects of a one party government - balanced budgets, plans in place for things that affect the average person. Sure, a small minority (yes, at less than 20% of the population unions are a minority) complaining about laws the dominate party has passed, but those laws do not affect the majority of the population. I think I'd rather see a balanced budget and no gridlock.
MFC
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 9:04am
Yeah, as long as it works for you... but one GOP rule in Michigan isn't such a great deal for the elderly, working poor, the non working poor, the long term unemployed, the kids living in poverty, the environment, education...
Patricia Szczepanski
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 9:08am
One party rule balances budgets? Rich, are you mad? Just by saying that statement shows you are a a republican follower...and a blind one at that. From President G.W. Bush back to President Reagan republicans have shown themselves to be the party that is only representative of a monied few. Let's face this together now....G.W.B. took a balanced budget from who? That is correct...President Clinton and what? Started two wars killing thousands of American Soldiers/Marines and countless civilian lives. All for revenge, oil, or because republicans come off like war mongers. GWB left office with the country in, almost, complete financial ruin. Lest I forget, GWB had majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate. One party domination...was never, ever, the goal for this country. We had that before the Revolutionary War...
William Plumpe
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 3:02pm
Up to a certain point one party rule is advantageous. But it can also present grave problems and have far reaching negative effects. First of all one party rule is not democracy by any stretch of the imagination. It is totalitarian rule plain and simple. Do you know what the citizens in Mussolini's fascist Italy during World War II liked the most about the regime? There was no vote but the trains, planes and buses were sure to run on time. And Hitler's "democratic" rule in Germany during World War II is an example of "one party rule" run amok with disastrous and history changing negative results for the entire world. And you only have to look at regimes today like North Korea's to see what "one party" rule taken to an extreme can do. But hopefully that is what term limits are all about. Enough said.
Mark
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 9:12am
"That government which governs least, governs best." ... Thomas Jefferson. That's what one gets with multiparty gridlock.
BluFox
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 9:22am
Look how efficient China's government operates. Republicans (primarily) want the same thing. The 1% run the show. Capitalism is SO people focused!
dlb333
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 10:01am
The state of Michigan remains primarily Democratic, based upon the popular vote from the 2012 presidential election when Obama won the state by 54% of the voters. The fact that Republicans have been successful in twisting the politics does not mean they represent the majority of the people in the state. Republican actions over the past decade have hurt many in our state.
BluFox
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 10:20am
Amen! "With your old folks eating dog food, and your children eating paint, while the PIRATES own the flag and sell us sermons on restraint" Harry Chapin
Tom
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 10:36am
The article reflects Phil's bias: "right-to-work legislation designed to clip the wings of unions." Some might say it was designed to make the State more competitive. Regardless, it is not so much "one party rule" as the nature of our public policy makers and their intentions. I suspect more are honorable than not, but some clearly have more interest in lining their own pockets than public service. We need to have more discussion on common goals rather than arguments over alternative approaches.
BluFox
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 11:03am
Don't totally disagree, we all have biases. But having a "discussion" is difficult when you have a legislature that puts 50 cents worth of appropriations in new laws so that the citizens can't challenge them or authorizes a wolf hunt based on the outright lies of ONE "citizen". Wonder when that Perjury trial will take place.
Bill Fullmer
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 10:57am
I propose that the discussion of issues raised by Mr. Power be addressed in a broader perspective than political rhetoric. It merits a broader vision. For 200 years our elected officials operated in a way that built this country from it's original 13 colonies to the amazing country many of us grew up in. Those elected leaders were focused on solving problems and creating amazing opportunities for our citizens and our companies. They did so by reaching compromises. There were differences of opinion and sharp battles, but they found middle ground and achieved what was needed. The word compromise was respected. Then somewhere around the 200 anniversary things began to change noticeably, first at the federal level and later moving to states. Respect among officials seems to have waned considerably. The word compromise is now condemned. Moderates are now chastised and chased out. And now The Party is the focus of elected officials at the federal and state levels. The people seem to have lost out. And the dynamics within governments and communities that led to building of a great nation now seem stifled. There's little momentum for anything good. People seem frozen or afraid to venture into growing or even solving real problems. It feels like we're sliding back. I don't know what a solution is, and it's too early to consider such. The first step is probably to think about the contrast between the first 200 years and the recent 38 years and see if there are learnings there that get us moving again.
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 11:24am
Rich Robinson is not a nonpartisan watchdog. He spends most of his time attacking GOP candidates, criticizing business for participating in the politcal process, and calling for others to disclose their funding while failing to do so for the organization he runs.
Mike
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 8:25pm
Rich, Busineses are not voters , they are not persons no matter what the Supreme Court says. By the act of doing business they concentrate money. They have legitimate interests, but that does not morally or ethically support buying government and gerrymandering control of legislative seats. What these Jack Asses fail to realize is that the more they suppress the people the harsher the consequences. They passed 200 bills in the last lame duck session. What will they do this time? Smaller government? They lie. It's smaller if it does what they want.
Matt
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 12:31pm
Mike, unfortunately for your side on this issue, we have that crazy idea that we shouldn't be taxed without getting representation. I assume you don't want to eliminate all business taxes? So Why then should businesses not be allowed to petition their taxers? If you were willing leave businesses untaxed I'd be more inclined to buy your point.
Mike
Wed, 01/22/2014 - 8:16pm
Matt, Business does have access to government , it has happened since the start of this Republic. No businees has ever gonr to prison or had the death penalty. Also if you are much of a historian you would know that when the Constitution was written large business organisations were chartered to achive specific aims , not open ended as they are now. Businesses are incorporated under the terms of the government of the people, for the people , not the other way around.
Larry
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 11:28am
As Mr. Power states, "citizens don't care much about political parties, they just want a system of government that works for them." Why don't we look at those 13 States run by Democrats and compare them with the 23 States run by Republicans and see who is doing a better job? Which States have balanced budgets and which are broke? Which States have better business climates, better outcomes in education, better growth rates, etc. etc.?
David Waymire
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 2:24pm
Here is the metric that matters most...per cap income (taking out government income, and natural resources (oil) income, since we aren't an oil state and Md./Va. get a big dose of Washington money). And who the governor is. Just some information. States ranked by private non-natural resources income IncomeGOP/Dem Gov 1.Massachusetts Dem 2.ConnecticutDem 3.New YorkDem 4.New JerseyGOP 5.MinnesotaDEM 6.New HampshireDEM 7.IllinoisDEM 8.DelawareDEM 9.ColoradoDEM 10.California DEM 36. Michigan GOP 41. Alabama GOP 42. OklahomaGOP 43. KentuckyDEM 44. South CarolinaGOP 45. MontanaDEM 46. ArkansasDEM 47. IdahoGOP 48. New MexicoGOP 49. West VirginiaDEM 50. Mississippi GOP
Matt
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 3:47pm
Sorry Dave, but all this really shows is who had what to start with, Ct, NJ, and NY all benefit from that fact that Wall Street started in New York City 300 years ago and has very little value for proving anything beyond that historical fact. Very similar circumstances for MA and NH (What happened to Vermont?). Basically this just shows who is living off an inheritance of some sort, not so much who is creating new wealth, opportunities and future income growth. Although maybe this is why those living off inheritances also tend to be left-wing? Another consideration, when adjusted for the cost of living/quality of life picture across the states I assure you that your list looks very different. $100,000 in New York isn't worth $40K in Idaho.
David Waymire
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 4:29pm
Hmm....so you have an excuse for the rich states being rich.... What's your excuse for the poor states being poor? There's only one metric that matters. Which states have the most college grads. Those states are rich. The states without college grads are poor. If you have a child or a grandchild, you know they aren't moving to Indiana, Mississippi or Louisiana. They are moving to New York, Chicago, San Francisco. And the cost of living argument is just silly. It usually means your housing market sucks, and the workers on the bottom rungs are making peanuts and there a a lot of them. The best "cost of living" ever was enjoyed by plantation owners.
Matt
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 4:39pm
Again I think you have it backwards, states have a lot of college grads because they are rich, not so much the other way around.
Matt
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 5:55pm
I don't believe there is a simple quick reason or solution for moving a state or community or state to being rich or poor in the short term. It takes a long time through a combination of work and some luck or incompetence and corruption as Detroit has shown us. But I'd guarantee it's not solved by simply generating more BAs! And your kids nor mine, I hope, are likely to pick their future homes on anything ultimately but where they can find a job that can support them. Your point on the housing markets that suck ... housing market strength has nothing to do with home costs but rather the stability of that price and whether pop is growing or falling. Your point on that issue needs more thought.
Mike
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 8:34pm
Matt, Google Donor States. You will find that those donor states that receive more than they send to Washington almost exactly aligns with the bottom half of that list. If Southern Republicanism is such a success why does the rest of the country have to subsidise it? Everything that now strangles this country are strategies that started in the south.
Will Tyler White
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 11:45am
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." (Lord Acton). Phil Power is right that the deck is slanted toward single party rule, but not just because of campaign finance. Single party rule is only possible because restrictive election laws were enacted by the two parties in power to retain their exclusive control. All others are marginalized, muzzled and maligned. Recent polls show that 45% of voters identify themselves as Independents, yet not a single independent candidate has been on the ballot in Michigan for decades (http://www.gallup.com/poll/15370/party-affiliation.aspx). When the party with complete control represents only the 24% of the voters who consider themselves Republicans (or the 29% who consider themselves Democrats), it is government by the minority and not a healthy situation for our Constitutional Republic. The will of the majority of voters is obviously not being represented when 60% think a third party is needed (http://www.gallup.com/poll/165392/perceived-need-third-party-reaches-new...). A better scenario not mentioned is shared governance, with independent and minor party representation in the legislature. This requires coalition building and compromise to enact any legislation and expresses the will of a greater portion of the population. For examples, look at the UK, Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, etc. The remedy is to replace our first-past-the-post electoral system with proportional representation and approval voting, both of which tend to elect a broader spectrum of candidates, regardless of campaign finance laws. This will never be endorsed by the duopoly in power though, so it will have to come from the citizens in the form of a referendum or ballot proposal, such as a "Voters Bill of Rights". The time may be ripe for such an effort, perhaps spearheaded by the many alternative parties.
Matt
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 2:36pm
Since you like quotes ... The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. - Winston Churchill. Getting all in a lather over the current make up of our government and changing our system to a parliament so that we can some how be more inclusive toward some apparently confused "independent voter", are you kidding?. In case you haven't noticed Washington DC with divided government nor many of the parliamentary systems scattered around the world aren't exactly screaming successes either. The real beauty of our system is that we have 50 different laboratories that we are all free to pack up and move to should we be so inclined. Otherwise wait a few years and if success isn't forth coming it will change, regardless of Phil's hyperventilating.
Mike
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 8:40pm
Matt, There you hit the nail on the head. Americans are pusses. When they don't like it any more they run away to some place they think is better. They don't stay and fight to make things better. The only people that stay are to poor to move.
Matt
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 12:22pm
No Mike, Mankind has been moving from areas of lesser opportunity to greater since the beginning of time. It's just that we have become pussies and think that we are entitled to have some one support us without regard to the ability to make a living in a given location.
Charles Richards
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 4:57pm
This is a singularly unilluminating, tortured column. Mr. Power says, "Incumbents of gerrymandered districts often don’t need to fret much about pleasing the electorate as a whole." Incumbents of any Congressional district don't need to worry about "pleasing the electorate as a whole." All they need do is please the electorate of their district. If the values of that electorate are sharply at variance with the values of the electorate as a whole, it is unreasonable to expect the incumbent to empathize with the rest of the nation. And that is our basic, intractable problem. This nation has undergone what political scientists call the "Big Sort." We have separated ourselves out into two groups with wildly different, largely incompatible values. Red states (and regions) have become redder and blue states have become bluer. Mr. Power says, "There’s now single party control of the governorship and legislature in 36 of the 50 states, the most in 60 years. Of those, Democrats rule in 13, Republicans in 23." But that is a reflection of the "Big Sort," not campaign finance machinations. Mr. Power says, "All of which raises the disturbing underlying question of whether our political system has managed to evolve in such a way as to focus largely on the needs and interests of partisan insiders at the expense of ordinary citizens who don’t care much about political parties, and just want a system of government that works for them." Again, Mr. Power fails to realize that the political system has evolved in response to the differing values of ordinary citizens. It's true that "ordinary citizens...just want a system of government that works for them." The troubling problem is that large groups of citizens have sharply definitions of what they want government to do.
Paul Andrews
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 6:07pm
Phil, Thanks for your analysis and continuous effort to improve Michigan governance. One party rule is contradictory to the concept of representative government and encourages abuse. In addition to this latest abuse we need to find some way to make our current electives more representative of our very diverse people. To this end I recommend that Zolton Ferency's PALP (People Achieving Legislative Power) proposal be reconsidered and I have e-mailed you a copy of a PALP Newsletter.
Duane
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 12:25am
I am curious about Mr. Power’s selective memory. When he writes about one party governing he ignores an example that is on every front page at one time or another this year, one that changed that one party rule, one that may even shift it back to one party rule (though the other party). Maybe that is why he doesn’t remember it, maybe it is an inconvenient truth that proves his rationale on campaign financing is flawed and it shows how voters chose, not campaign spending, who will hold office. Mr. Power seems to extend his selective memory to exclude inconvenient history. He talks about how one party rule gave us RTW and yet he seems to forget that it was the attempt by others to change the Constitution to exempt union contracts from Michigan laws set the stage. The voters were asked to support such a change and they overwhelmingly rejected it. It was that expression of voter will that gave the impetus to the GOP legislating RTW. It wasn’t one party rule that created that opportunity, rather it was the opposition that opened the efforts for RTW. I am trying to figure out if Mr. Power doesn’t trust the voters to make the ‘right’ choices or he doesn’t trust the system the voters. I believe that abuse of power is driven more by longevity in the system than it is in party membership. Whether it is California, Illinois, or Washington it is the longest sitting Legislators that manipulate the system and control what becomes law then it is the party that has a vote or two more than the other. I wonder if it is campaign spending or term limits that most frustrates Mr. Power. It is always entertaining to read Mr. Power's articles, it is like solving a puzzle trying to figure out what is really driving him to write that particular article. He frequenctly rails about the symptom rarely does he seem to desribe the problem or explain why it is a problem. He seems to feel their is only one answer and flails at whatever frustrates his answer. I think he is missing out on the fun and satisfaction of particpating in the competition of ideas and how from that competition the answer will be better.
Suzanne
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 9:51am
I just want to say one thing about the RTW legislation that came through so quickly and mightily. It was obvious that the teacher's unions were being targeted for one reason - to get rid of the hated MEA and all their Democratic voters. I am including a blog that trascribes an interview on the subject. Quite interesting and disheartening. Our school district has 35 million dollars sitting in the bank, our professionals are being paid at the lowest level when compared to the surrounding ISDs in northwestern Michigan, our superintendent is paid the highest compaired to his colleagues, yet, we cannot come to an agreement. It would take $90,000 to settle our contract which is overdue by 7 months. We have a bully for a superintendent that wants: "The Best School District in the World" (his words and is on our letterhead), but does not want to pay the professionals on his staff commensorate wages - AND THERE IS MONEY. Read this article and tell me that teachers haven't been maligned and targetted by the current REPUBS in the state. Why are teachers the whipping boys? Why is it a crime to ask for competitive wages especially when the state wants competent teachers? This one party rule in Michigan is hurting many people with quick, legislative action, done in the darkness of lame duck sessions, blocking the people from entering meetings - all very nepharious done in the climate of us versus the rest of you. Where is true democracy? http://bloggingformichigan.com/2011/10/07/right-to-work-for-less-bill-fo...
Duane
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 9:54pm
Suzanne, I can’t explain other people’s action, it is hard enough to explain my own. Your threshold for being maligned seems rather lower. If you want to change the situations/respect level/financial treatment than teachers just like everyone else will have to leave their comfort zone, they will have to extend themselves beyond what their job descriptions, they will have stop relying on others to define them and how well they are doing. If you want to raise the support you (teachers) receive you have to help people understand what you do and how well you do it. Start by trying to see what you do through the eyes of those who you are serving (taxpayers), you need to try to understand what they want to know about. How can they know whether they are getting good value for their money? What does success look like, how can they tell if it is being achieved? Teachers need to draw the community into the educational process not exclude them from the process. How many times do we hear, ‘leave the teaching to us were the professionals’. You want to change how you are treated in the classroom, in the pay envelop, you need to reach outside your classroom, leave your ‘ivory tower’, break down your silos and open your teaching to the community. If those you serve are achieving success then you will be seen as successful and people will support success. They need to be able to measure the quality of the education process and how well it is achieving success. If teacher don’t create the metrics for the public to use then at best others will create those metrics. At worse people will be left to the media headlines and the pontification of people who don’t know.
Suzanne
Thu, 01/16/2014 - 12:38pm
Thank you for your kind reply - civil it was. I know you are speaking in generalities, but I would contend that my parents are very much knowledgeable about what I do. Actually, I'm a speech/language pathologist that works with severly impaired children with autism. I am highly trained, have made tremendous contributions to the communication proficiency of my students, keep close data that shows yearly progress and I have a MA plus. What the public knows is what the media extrapolates from whatever glossy information is protrayed for high ratings, I'm afraid. Unfortuneatly, there are many taxpayers that do not have direct contact with teachers unless they work in the environment, have children or grandchildren who receive our services, or volunteer. The metrics that will be used to measure teaching proficiency will be affected by a lot of variables that teachers by themselves will not be able to control. The biggest being childhood poverty and its effect on how children perform in a school enviornment (or not). You mention developing metrics to measure our success. Well, that is happening in our state and depending on the reliability and validity of the measuring tool, we shall see how well it works. This is a mandate in this state, so you will get that information probably after this year and into the future so stay tuned. This tool has research to back it up as it relates to classroom teachers, none for itinerants and professional non-certified staff such as myself, but the climate in this state toward teachers is such that we have to swallow this whether we like it or not. We'll see. One thing you mentioned raised my curiousity and that was the statement about moving outside of our comfort zone. Are you talking about keeping data on progress? - done, are you talking about community outreach? - that's what a public school does on a daily basis. That just does not happen and if your experience is otherwise, then maybe that was your choice if you had children to raise in the public schools. Yes, "leave the teaching to us because we ARE the professionals" and understand childhood developmental norms, the concept of readiness, "response to intervention" iniciatives, evidence based instruction, the five elements critical to evidence based literacy instruction, the difference between investigative math vs. traditional math instruction and the language variables that affect the different approaches. I can go on and on. The lay person, just because they went to school themselves, does not. That is where teacher's get their ire up. Having people who are politicians telling us how to do our jobs when they have no business doing so. The recent house bill designed to keep third graders in the 3rd grade if they are not proficient in reading is a prime example of a group of people not really knowing what's already happening in public schools. Response to Intervention is in place already for that particular situation. Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your statement and for allowing me to give a little bit more information about what is happening in my school district to a person who may not have access to this information. Maybe you have a point in having our PR person do more public outreach in the form of newspaper articles although I know this already happens in my community. Also, remember you can always attend your local school district board meeting. Nice talking to you.
Duane
Fri, 01/17/2014 - 11:48am
Suzanne, “What the public knows is what the media extrapolates…” left to their own devices the media can be a bit loose with what they want to present. See the New York Times for how it’s done. If you trust to others you should expect what you get. I expect you are a highly skilled and effective teacher, by your own admission only your parents know then why would you expect more from the public. It takes actively engaging them (outside their comfort zone) not about PR, but real listening and talking. “The biggest being childhood poverty and its effect on how children perform in a school enviornment (or not).” Are you sure it is poverty that prevents learning or is it other factors that are prevalent in ‘poor’ areas? Is it lack of parental support, is it going hungry, is it an insecure classroom, is it low expectation, or is it being ‘poor’? If your answer is being ‘poor’ then why did Dr. Ben Carson and his sibling succeed? Too many times we defer to the popular excuse and ignore the real causes. When considering metrics start with deciding on the purpose the metric is to fulfill. The most effective metrics are of the things we control and the activities that will affect the desired results. If teachers don’t create their own measures (outside their comfort zone) then it is left to those with other uses for metrics. As best I can tell the current educational metrics were created by education advocates and politicians so the public only see what others want not the teachers. You talk about teacher proficiency, but unless you describe it how is the public to use it? “Yes, “leave the teaching to us because we ARE the professionals” and understand childhood developmental norms, the concept of readiness, “response to intervention” iniciatives, evidence based instruction, the five elements critical to evidence based literacy instruction, the difference between investigative math vs. traditional math instruction and the language variables that affect the different approaches.” I understand that there is knowledge/expertise that makes a teacher and all professions. It is the belief that having that knowledge somehow sets the profession apart from others/the public and that attitude is what lowers the public opinion of the those professions. An ‘expert’ is one that user their knowledge effectively not ones who uses it elevate their self-image. A more experienced ‘expert’ has the confidence to describe the core knowledge to anyone who will listen so the listener will have a sufficient understanding to trust the ‘expert’ and to have an appreciation of the value they provide. The question is do teachers want to have their profession respected by the public, do they want to be supported in their teaching efforts by the public, and do they want to be financially support by the taxpayers? Than like others professions they have reach out to the public, invest their time and efforts to educate the public and in responding with respect to the public. The choice is keep doing what has been done and hope for different results or open up to a new way of thinking and work for different results. Why don’t you invite taxpayers into talk about what you do and listen to what they say about it. Much of what you have said are important enought that they should be topics for independent discussions and proposals.
Matt
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 12:39pm
Duane one point you've missed is that Phil doesn't have any real problem with one party rule in spite of what he claims. I don't recall any complaints about Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Muskegon or any other examples of one party rule that are now crying for state help. I can on conclude It's which party is in charge that bothers him.
Duane
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 10:08pm
Matt, It does seem that Democrats show-up more often in a better light when mentioned in a Mr. Power article, but I think it is only out of conveniece rather than Party loyalty. He likes the idea of how one of the foundation principles is Party loyalty, over and above independent thinking. He likes the Party jusification for everything be based on 'good intention' than reality. He likes how the Party resists holding any program, any law, any person accountable and spending should never have limits as long as the spending is justified by 'good intentions'. Rather than Mr. Power being driven by Party, I think it is his lack of confidence in the voters and his desire for an elitists group to be managing, government, our society.
Chuck Fellows
Thu, 01/16/2014 - 7:58am
Interesting that we have all these comments and only two attempts at proposing an alternative/solution. Competing voices are a good thing but when the raw power of money can drown out alternative voices we get a binary viewpoint which then becomes a contest to see who wins and who loses. The goal of the enterprise - governance - slips away and the civil servants are left to run the show with little if any thoughtful leadersip to plot a course. The "money" volume must be turned down. How? Public financing of camapigns (legislation is written - serval versions available; in place in several states). The "public" could offer to end term limits as an incentive to act. Interesting how neither party wants to touch that with a ten foot pole!
Gus
Thu, 01/16/2014 - 11:51am
Southpark Season 8, Episode 8: Most elections are a choice between a giant douche and a turd sandwhich. This is why I am an Independent and why there are now more Independents than there are either Democrats or Republicans. Democrats want more nanny state, Republicans want less. Democrats think the government can make things fair for everyone, Republicans say this is wishful thinking. The truth of all this is probably somewhere in the middle. All men are created equal only in terms of their God-given rights. In terms of intelligence, abilities, up-bringing, character, etc., we are all unequal. This is reality, and government cannot change this. There are undoubtedly some members of both parties who are true idealogues, but by and large many members of both parties are in politics because that is where the money and the power is. A truely unbiased media's job is to vet the candidates for us, but that has not been happening for many, many years. Being an informed voter today takes a lot of time and effort. Our educational system has not been teaching young people how to think for far too long. Amd, so, here we are today.
Diana Menhennick
Sun, 01/19/2014 - 9:38am
Phil Powers provides a glimpse of how one party government does not provide for discussion or transparency in the democratic process. Passing laws in lame duck session in the middle of the night with the capitol on lockdown does nothing to improve a troubled democratic state. As a public servant for my small community in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan I find the majority of the 200 some laws passed in the one party government extremely troubling for small municipalities who do work together as a community to move toward sustainability. The main point powers has trying to communicate was the successfull strategy of the one party government template which is moving across the united states at a high rate of speed. This is achieved through campaign financing networks in which donors are protected by laws which do not require disclosure. Recently, Snyder signed a new law adds to the protection and not disclosing who donates. This is a scary tend and could be extremely dangerous route for democratic process.
Scott
Sun, 01/19/2014 - 7:07pm
Very disappointing slanted op-ed piece by Mr. Powers. Only in passing does he mention the one-party rule in Illinois and California. Why has he not complained over his many decades of writing about how the left has had one-party rule in many states and cities and has run many of them into ruin? Could it be that he actually LOVES one-party rule as long as it is his party? You better believe it. One does not have to look too far to see one-party (democrat) results in Michigan: Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Benton Harbor, Saginaw, Muskegon. He never has blamed those problems on the leftists who run those cities. I thought the Bridge was going to be an un-biased view of Michigan life and politics. Sadly, this is not the case. No more bloviating Mr. Powers. Your true colors are known.
William Harris
Sun, 01/19/2014 - 9:57pm
The difficulty with one party rule is that is separated from a civic-mindedness; the real culprit here is term limits. With short attention spans, one part rule promotes feeding the lobbyist base, so we get short-term, gimcrack solutions, the sort that please no one. As to solutions, much actually turns back to the major lobbyist supporters of the GOP, notably the Chamber and other major funding networks such as the DeVos or Land keiretsus in W Michigan. Will they be able to imagine a Michigan that is actually good for all, and not simply the most hidebound conservative of the C and D counties?
Duane
Mon, 01/20/2014 - 5:37pm
William, I am not sure if you were engaged with the discussion when term limits were chosen by the public. Back then legislators were in office for decades and there was the concern that they were becoming to socailly linked/interwined with 'lobbyists' that were in Lansing for decades and being more socially driven in their voting. There were even a legislator or so that were able to develop such power through their longevity that from their positions they were presented with opportunities to break the laws for person gain. Maybe we should consider establishing limits on the number of Bills proposed in a given year or session, limit the number of pages any Bill may contain, and require each Legislator read a Bill before they are allowed to vote on it.
CFT
Tue, 04/01/2014 - 12:01pm
I don't recall journalists complaining about one-party rule when the Democrats held the House, Senate and the White House...must be it is horrible only if Republicans are running things.