OK, to be honest, I didn’t actually listen to newly elected Governor Rick Snyder give his first annual State of the State speech last night. I caught bits of it while sitting at Troppo’s restaurant in downtown Lansing three blocks from where it was delivered at the state Capitol, but we were celebrating my mom’s birthday and catching up was more important at the time. Also political speeches tend to bore me. Also, don’t get me wrong, I like Snyder, but his voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
From what I’m gleaning from today’s follow-up coverage, though, I share in the general optimism about the Gov’s agenda. I’m particularly delighted to hear him take a stand in favor of a publicly owned Detroit River crossing to Canada (DRIC), an issue I feel especially strongly about as you might have gleaned from my rant in December on the topic.
I thought this line from the Detroit News coverage of the speech was particularly rich:
Mike Bishop, the former Republican leader in the Senate, said he was surprised by the “ringing endorsement” of the bridge project. “That issue is going to be debated thoroughly,” he said.
Not that Senator Bishop, who lost the Republican primary for state attorney general, has any say in the matter as of the New Year. I’m no fan of the guy who won, new AG Bill Schuette, but there’s much comfort to be had in knowing it could have been worse.
Speaking of the DRIC mess, what a delight it was a few weeks ago to see officials from the Detroit International Bridge Company finally start to get their just desserts in federal court. The headline-grabber was when Wayne Co. Circuit Court Judge Prentis Edwards had DIBC president Dan Stamper jailed for an afternoon after finding the bridge company in contempt. As reported by the ever-vigilant MetroTimes News Hits team, DBIC
has already tried to get the case moved to federal court. Tried twice in fact, failing both times. After the second attempt, U.S. District Court Judge Patrick Duggan observed:
“Considering this Court’s more than 33 years as a judicial officer, DIBC may be entitled to its recognition as the party who has devised the most creative schemes and maneuvers to delay compliance with a court order.”’
As AnnArbor.com staff reporter Nathan Bomey noted, the Gov’s speech was almost as notable for what he didn’t mention: ‘The following words were nowhere to be found in Snyder’s 40-minute speech, according to a transcript posted by the Detroit Free Press: auto, cars, trucks and vehicles.’ Bomey rightly points out that Snyder was freed up to focus on his entrepreneur-focused message ‘because the auto industry has already stabilized.’
Governor Snyder announced a plethora of other priorities last night that will keep the policy wonks busy for the rest of the week, if not the month. Only time will tell which of them he’ll be able to bring to fruition and which will actually yield results. For example, while I appreciate the spirit of his proposal to establish an Office of Urban Initiatives in a handful of the state’s struggling inner cities (including, of course, Motown), it’s hard not to be sceptical about what this new agency is going to be able to accomplish without more detail (not to mention the prudence of creating new bureaucracy when the state is facing a projected $1.85 billion deficit for FY2012).
In general, though, Gov. Snyder has built up a healthy reserve of good will toward him through the centrism he has displayed since the early days of his campaigns, as well as the fact that he seems to grasp basic economics in a way Granholm never did, his approach to tax incentives for businesses being the foremost example. (Though I’ll miss her wonderful smooth whisper… I could listen to Granholm read the phone book). Between Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, I feel more optimistic about Michigan leadership than at any time since I first starting paying attention to state and regional politics.