Jan 26, 2009

P & A’s tradition of Rogers’ cheerleading moves on to another Rogers

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus is living up to its name as the Rogers Newsletter, and it has shifted its kid gloves coverage to anointer Rogers, freshman state Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton.

In his five terms in the U.S. House, the newspaper has been the biggest cheerleader for U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Livingston County. The paper’s reporters and editors have not asked many tough questions of Rogers. I, unfortunately, was also guilty of that when I covered politics for the P & A. The only reporter I know of who was ever tough on Rogers - actually more on Press Secretary Sylvia Warner - was Jon Zemke. The Rogers camp complained, and he was reassigned. To be fair, every single beat was changed, and I don’t know if they were related.

A few weeks ago the newspaper editorialized that Mike Rogers should run for governor, simply because he’s from Livingston County. Why?

“Because having a governor from Livingston County would obviously benefit the home folks.” So why Rogers shouldn’t put his hat into the ring? “The Howell High School grad is as qualified as anyone else considering a run.”

The facts don’t bear that out. At best his record is thin, and at worst anti-child; voting against the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Can anyone point out a major accomplishment or even something he has done for the 8th Congressional District? His biggest accomplishment is his ability to raise money for the GOP.

Last Sunday there were four articles that mentioned Mike Rogers, but the most blatant cheerleading piece was a column from metro editor Buddy Moorehouse, a former Republican state House candidate. He predicts Rogers will run and most likely win.

“Furthermore, if he does run for governor, I think he'll have a good chance of winning. A very good chance.”

The only thing I do agree with is when Moorehouse says, “I've never seen a better campaigner. Ever.”

If he decides to run, the task for Democrats will be to force him to run on his record and not on his ability to work the room.

The kid gloves treatment has now shifted to an elder Rogers. Now, Bill Rogers is really a nice guy, but that does not make him a good lawmaker. His predecessor proved that. In Friday’s edition of the newsletter, it basically reprints a press release outlining Roger’s legislative agenda. If you ever need an example of uncritical reporting here it is. In fairness, I’m sure if some of it has to do with overworked reporters doing more with less.

The press release that came out on Jan. 22 says, “Rogers today began work on that agenda by introducing legislation to immediately repeal the job-killing Michigan Business Tax surcharge.” It also said, “The lawmaker's MBT surcharge legislation now goes to a House committee for review.”

The only problem is the bill was never introduced; not by any state Representative. On Jan. 22 there were 119 bills introduced in the House, but not that one. The only bill Rogers introduced was House Bill 4082, the “Hardesty Law” that bars a candidate who loses in the primary from running as a write-in candidate in the general election.

The press release also says, “Along with ending the MBT surcharge, Rogers also will introduce legislation to reduce state legislators' pay if they do not attend session in Lansing.”

There is only a small problem with that. Rep. Paul Opsommer introduced House Joint Resolution (HJR) A that cuts legislative pay and reduces lawmaker’s pay when they miss votes. HJR D, introduced by Rep. Marty Knollenberg, also reduces lawmaker’s pay when they miss votes. Rogers is a co-sponsor, but that is not much more than ceremonial. Lawmakers like it when they have cosponsors from the opposite party to demonstrate bipartisan support. But the sponsor and the other two co-sponsors are all Republicans.

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