Dec 1, 2008
Articles attempt to whitewash Rep. Chris Ward’s House record
As the six-year term of Michigan Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, comes to a merciful end, some glowing articles are beginning to appear that are attempting to rewrite history.
The former House Majority Leader was going to be stripped of his leadership position before he resigned after daring to vote with the Democrats and raise the state income tax to avoid a brief government shutdown last October. He has been praised for his courageous vote, and rightfully so, in such places like Dome Magazine and the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus. But it ignored the rest of his dismal time in the Legislature.
The recent opinion column by Press & Argus General Manager Rich Perlberg is really over the top. The piece bemoans the lack of cooperation and bickering between the two political parties, but it completely ignored Ward’s role in it.
As the person who set the agenda on the House floor when the GOP controlled the House prior to 2006, Ward was so heavy-handed that the Republicans did away with debate on the House floor, and the Republican majority even refused the simple courtesy of providing an agenda of the day’s bills in session. Ward’s actions were similar in committee, and as the chair of the Oversight, Elections and Ethics Committee he threatened to forcibly remove and arrest a Priest.
He was also notorious for bending over backward to help lobbyists, such as the developers of the Green Oak Village Place mall, and the wine bill that earned him the scorn of veteran journalist Jack Lessenberry. You could also rest assured the bills Ward pushed were designed to benefit the Republicans first and not the state or its residents.
When he ran for reelection in 2006 he was as scarce in the 66th House District and Livingston County as snow in July, and we don’t know where he spent the majority of his last term, but it wasn’t at work. He had the worst voting record in 2007, missing more votes of any Legislator with 133 missed votes. I don’t know if that contributed to his personal problems or losing his home to foreclosure, but he was not working full time. In light of the number of missed votes in 2007, the remarkable thing is he actually showed up to cast his vote for the budget bills.
Now, this may be called sour grapes because I volunteered for the person Ward beat in 2006, and there may be a grain of truth to that. What it did was make me pay attention to his actions, or lack of action, and it was frustrating to work hard to only see Ward win because he was an incumbent with an R after his name. It’s even more frustrating to be correct about something, and have people ignore it. I do know Mike McGonegal would have been responsive to voters and better represented them.
Perlberg’s column really goes over the top when he tries to compare Ward with former Republican Gov. William Milliken. That is outrageous, to say the least.
“If there is no room in our government for politicians such as Ward and Milliken, then can we really be surprised by the end product that we are getting?”
Please. The GOP has not had room for moderates like Milliken for many years with its hard swerve to the right, but Ward has contributed to that right turn.
I have no idea if Ward’s tax vote was his mea culpa for all the wrong things he did in office prior to Oct. 1, 2007. The fact is that’s the most nonpolitical vote he made in six years and perhaps the only vote he made where he put the state and its residents first. It’s wrong his political career is over because of that vote.
If people choose not to support him or vote for him again, do so because of his actions prior to the Oct. 1, 2007 vote to keep Michigan government open. Maybe when this term is over he will return to the guy I liked and admired before he left here in 2002.