Two parties, lunchmeat and pants afire

Here’s the thing about the media: We’re not supposed to call people liars.

We get quotes from both sides, even when we know the claptrap on one side of the issue is, as Gongwer News Service subtly suggested Wednesday, "what some might call a lie."

That story (subscription only), along with this from the Detroit News, exposes the politics behind a bill rushed through the Republican-dominated Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder that kept redistricting in Oakland County in Republican hands.

A little background: In Oakland County, redistricting for the county Board of Commissioners was done by a reapportionment commission. No one had a problem with that until Democrats gained control of the majority of that commission. A bill pushed through the Legislature swiped redistricting away from the suddenly questionable reapportionment committee and gave it to the still GOP-controlled county board. The result -- and try to hide your surprise -- was that a Republican-friendly map was drawn that shrank the number of county seats from 25 to 21.

The change had nothing to do with Democrats, the Republicans said; it had to do with saving money.

Everyone pretty much knew that was baloney. On Tuesday, Oakland County Democrats released emails (obtained through Michigan's Freedom of Information Act) that showed how that baloney was made.

In one email, according to Gongwer, state Rep. Eileen Kowall, a Republican from Oakland County, discusses how to rationalize the blatantly partisan bill. "I guess it would also help to have (a) legitimate explanation," she said in an email to fellow Oakland County Republican Rep. Marty Knollenberg. "I'm thinking that we claim we were having trouble agreeing on how many seats the (Board of Commissioners) would ultimately have."

When Gongwer asked Kowall about the email, the representative gave an answer that amounts to "that’s my story and I’m sticking to it":

"I was trying to make smaller government for Oakland County citizens," she said.

The emails, she said, were just "part of the legislative process."

Frankly, it sounds less like a legislative process and more like the end result of the digestive process I used to step in when I walked through the cow pasture as a kid.

Disclosure -- it's good for some of the people

Meanwhile, Jocelyn Benson, the former Democratic candidate for secretary of state, announced she would lead a citizens' initiative to pass a constitutional amendment that would require prompt, full disclosure of political contributions.

That’s a noble goal. Or, it would have been, if Benson’s proposal wouldn’t have excluded contributions made by private donors and unions. Fat cat private donors come in every political stripe, but unions? They give to Democrats. Like Benson.

The website promoting Benson’s effort defends why corporations (read: Republican donors) would be required to instantly disclose contributions, while union donations wouldn’t be reported for months. Unions, according to the website, already disclose donations in different ways.

But if unions already disclose donations, why not have them disclose donations under this constitutional amendment, too?

Here’s a question for politicians on both sides of the aisle: Do you pull these stunts because you think the public is stupid, or because you believe the ends justify the means?

As a teen, my father went on a class field trip to a meat processing plant, where he had a front-row seat to the making of actual bologna.

He never touched the stuff again.

I’m in the media, so I won’t say any of the politicians above are lying. I won’t even say they’re full of baloney.

That would be an insult to bologna.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.