Jan 1, 2007
Only Gov. Jennifer Granholm can make the oath of office sound lively and exciting, and she did just that today when she was sworn in for her final term by her mentor, Judge Damon Keith, on the Capitol steps in Lansing in front of some 1,000 brave but cold souls.
I was one of those brave souls, and I had a front row SRO perch, thanks to the place-saving ability of Liberal Lucy of Liberal, Loud and Proud. Following the swearing in of the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, the trustees of the state’s public universities and judges we made our way across the Grand River to the warmth of the Lansing Center to hear the inaugural speeches.
The theme of the scaled down inauguration was “Celebrating the Next Michigan,” and the governor laid out the problems facing Michigan and her slow but study success at diversify our economy by attracting high-tech companies to the state and maintaining our still much needed auto manufacturing base in the face of the disastrous unfair national trade practices.
“We have seen, and we have fought alongside entire communities that have been hollowed out by the ravaging pull of cheap labor from distant lands,” she said. “We all know that our challenges have been decades in the making. And we know that full transformation doesn't happen overnight.”
Her speech was interrupted by applause about a dozen times, especially when she urged legislative and political leaders to put politics aside and act now to begin undoing the problems that the ebbing market share of our state's largest employer has caused over the years and act now.
“Because it will take time, we cannot waste time,” she said. “Feel the urgency. You feel it too. We must act and act now.”
I had the privilege of hearing Anita Baker sing her rousing rendition of the National Anthem, and Whitney Houston has nothing on her. I was a little disappointed at the Invocation of Pastor Dan Miller of St. Joseph. He took an inappropriate shot at newspaper Op-Ed pages in a prayer.
Sen. Carl Levin was the MC, and he acknowledged the great job the governor has done with the mess that was dropped in her lap four years ago.
“She has trimmed more money from the budget than any governor in history, but she still managed to extend health care to 300,000 people, diversified our economy and attracted new businesses to the state,” he said.
Lt. Governor John Cherry highlighted the administration’s fight to bring health care to all Michigan citizens and give every child the means to go to college if they desire. He compared the administration to a ship sailing on the Great Lakes with the governor as the commanding officer, and she has sailed us through some story waters over the past four years.
“She made the tough, gut-check decisions that had to be made to erase the budget deficits we were facing,” he said.
Mayors George Heartwell of Grand Rapids and Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit led off the remarks. I have heard Kilpatrick speak in the past, but he seemed to me much more mature and more of a leader, and his remarks reflected the theme of Celebrating the Next Michigan when he pointed out the citizens of Michigan have more similarities than differences.
The speech by Attorney General Mike Cox was uninspired at best, and there was good reason why the more than 3,000 people in the Lansing Center sat on their hands during his remarks.
Secretary of State Terri Land’s speech was also unremarkable, but I was intrigued by some of her proposals. I liked her proposal to pre-register 16-year-olds to vote when they get their DL, so that when they are 18 they are already registered. The no response early voting sounded interesting. Perhaps it’s just the verbiage that’s different, but I would prefer no reason absentee voting instead of early voting. Anything that encourages young people to vote and increases voter turnout I support. She also proposed having the Michigan DL serve as the passport, and that will ease problems going to and from our neighbor to the north.