Mar 17, 2007

Ward calls the kettle black

I almost fell out of my chair with disbelief and shock when I read this headline from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus web site where it teases the next day ‘s stories: “LOCAL: Communication in Lansing is at a low point, says state rep.”

Even more amazing: “Communication among state government leaders in Lansing is at the worst level he's ever witnessed, says state Rep. Chris Ward.”

Is he for real? No wonder Ward has no credibility. If he wants to see a time when “communications among state government leaders in Lansing was worse” he only needs to look back three months ago when he was the Majority Floor Leader. It’s the height of hypocrisy for Ward to say that, and I wonder if he said it with a straight face. I also wonder if the reporter, Dan Meisler, wrote it with a straight face. He knows better.

(Corection) When this was posted, the story posted was based on a teaser on the P & A web site on Saturday with no byline. I assumed it would be written by political reporter Dan Mesler. Hover, it was actually written and ran the next day by Executive Editor Rich Perlberg.
I apologize to Dan, and I was shocked that he would write such an uncritical, one-sided piece. I should have known he would not and could not be the author.
I apologize for the mistake.

As the floor leader, Ward decided what would go before all the members on the House floor. Here are just a few of his heavy-handed tactics that soured relationships between the two parties and made bipartisanship under Ward's great job of communicating and alleged “leadership:

As the chair of the House Oversight, Elections and Ethics Committee, Ward threatened to forcibly remove and arrest Father Cecilio Reyna, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church, for daring to try and express his opinion on a bill that would identify Michigan drivers as U.S. citizens or noncitizens on their driver's licenses.

By David Eggert Associated Press
Partisan acrimony in the state House became especially bitter Thursday when a top Democratic lawmaker said a House sergeant wrongly blocked her from seeing what bills were in a box to be taken up that day by the chamber.
Democratic Floor Leader Mary Waters of Detroit said she was trying to see the bills on the rostrum because Republicans, who hold a majority in the House, won't give Democrats a daily agenda. Ward stopped a custom - likely started within the last decade - of making their daily voting plan available to Democrats.

Ward and the Republicans stifled all debate on the House floor, kept Democrats from getting any bills before the full House, kept Democrats from certain swing districts from even getting as much as a tribute or resolution to the floor, illegally blocked action on some legislation and House Democrats had to even ask Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox to launch a criminal investigation against Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Kooiman and Republican Floor Leader Chris Ward for some relief.

New Speaker of the House Andy Dillon has brought actual debate back to the House Floor, and he has been trying work with both House minority and the Senate Majority on the budget. He has been working behind the scenes for months, but he’s not seeking headlines like Ward.

Last month the Senate rejected the Governor’s Executive Order to balance the budget without a plan of their own, and when the Senate GOP finally got one, they guarded it like it was the Holy Grail or the Manhattan Project. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says he has a plan to balance the budget with just spending cuts and one-time gimmicks, but he has threatened other senators and staffers with the sentence of death if they dare leak any details of the plan or let them know what the cuts are.

The Governor has been battered for more than a month for the brave stance she took by leveling with the public about what painful cuts must be made and trying to address the structural deficits the state faces, but Bishop has hid them from the public while people like Ward go out and spin a plan he and the Republicans are afraid to even show the voters.

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