Dec 20, 2006

The Michigan political scene was a busy one in 2006

As the New Year approaches, this is right about the time we begin to see the Year in Review stories from our local newspapers. I must admit as a former staff reporter for a daily newspaper, often the only thing the year-in-review stores did was allow the newspaper extra copy while reporters and sources took the holidays off.

Back in the days when I was a staff reporter, one newspaper I worked for centered the staff holiday get together around picking the top stories of the current year as we prepared to do the annual year in review stories. We would list them all, and then we would come back and rank them.
I propose to do that here. Since this is a Michigan political and media blog, I would like to see nominations come from there. I have mine, and I would like to see some others. Here are my nominations in no particular order.

1. Governor wins big –Despite predictions of Gov. Granholm losing or this being one of the tightest governor races ever in the state, the governor won easily by 14 percentage points.

2. The Amway gut spends a record amount of money, much of it his own, in a vain and unsuccessful attempt to buy the governorship.

3. In March, the Legislature passes the new Minimum wage after years of Democratic efforts to help workers. The Republicans only got off the dime when they realized a successful petition drive to place the question on the ballot will increase Democratic voter turnout in November.

4. Democrats did what they hadn't been able to do since the 1996 election - reclaim control of the House. When the House convenes for the 94th Legislature, the chamber will sit 58-52 in favor of Democrats who enjoyed a wave of support for the party not only at the top of Michigan's ticket, but nationally as well.

5. The new $100 million Green Oak Village Place opened in November on Lee Road and U.S. 23, but the real news was the developer had to pay for the road improvements himself instead of the taxpayers. Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, drafted an amendment to the law establishing a Downtown Development Authority that would have allowed the township to form a DDA just to benefit the mall to capture county tax revenue for road improvements. Luckily, Ward’s tax giveaway was caught, and the amendment was rescinded.

6. In one of the most cowardly acts of a Legislature that accomplished little in two years, the House voted 64-36 to repel the Single Business Tax early, leaving a $1.9 billon hole in lost revenue. The effects were immediately negative, and Standard & Poor's gave Michigan a negative outlook on its credit rating just hours after the State House and Senate voted to repel the SBT.

7. In August state Democrats gathered in Detroit’s Cobo Hall for a rousing two-day state convention. Those on the floor got the opportunity to witness a floor fight as the nominees for Attorney General and Secretary of State came down to an actual vote. Party insiders said they could not remember the last time that happened.

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