Jul 2, 2009

GOP using MSP HQ as a false campaign issue

LANSING - The almost complete Michigan State Police headquarters in downtown Lansing has officially become a campaign issue, at least for one Secretary of State candidate, but it is certainly a dead issue.

Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge and Oakland Sheriff Mike Bouchard - a Republican candidate for governor- have made the most hay with their opposition to the HQ, but Sen. Cameron Brown, R-Sturgis, and a GOP candidate for Secretary of State, managed to attached an amendment to the state police budget that was approved on June 18 that kills the money for the lease payment. Senate Bill 253 was approved by a vote of 26-9. Brown, of course, ignored the fact it will cost almost as much to maintain the older HQ as it does to lease a brand new, high-tech HQ.

People are upset of the layoff of 100 state troopers last week, and critics like Brown, Jones and Bouchard are making the claim that a building can’t respond to an emergency like 100 Troopers can. However, the bill does not bring the troopers back, and the House will again have to be the responsible one and do the right thing and live up to the contract it approved and pay for the lease. But Brown has a feather in his cap for the campaign trail.

Brown also completely ignores the history of the project. The HQ was first requested by former GOP Gov. John Engler. The original draft of the project, under Engler, drew initial opposition from State Police and Military and Veterans Affairs officials because the proposal attempted to move some of the emergency management operations into downtown Lansing but did not provide room for the vehicle and other storage needed. It was also too large and luxurious.

After changes were made to make the building smaller, it met the approval of State Police Director Peter Munoz, and Governor Jennifer Granholm requested the building.

The project was then approved on a bi-partisan vote by the Joint Capital Outlay Committee in 2007, as are all state building projects that do not require specific legislation. The committee consists of members from both parties from both the House and Senate.

The lease was then approved by the State Administrative Board. Brown spoke against the building then in 2007, but Munoz said he supports project, as does the State Police Troopers Association.

The State Administrative Board consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Director of the Department of Transportation. The State Administrative Board has general supervisory control over the administrative activities of all state departments and agencies, including, but not limited to, the approval of contracts and leases, oversight of the state capitol outlay process and the settlement of claims against the state.

Brown’s grandstand campaign stunt to bar the lease payments came just one day after Republican Attorney General Mike Cox - also a GOP candidate for Governor - said the state could get out of the contract on the building by not appropriating money for the building. That seems kind of funny considering he is a member of the State Administrative Board that intimately approved the lease.

The project brings the State Police into compliance with a constitutional provision requiring that state departments be headquartered in Lansing and with Governor Jennifer Granholm's executive directive (2003-22) that state offices, where possible, be located in central business districts. Michigan State University wants the building back where the majority of the MSP is currently headquartered.

The GOP claims are becoming increasing screechy and false, and they continue to ignore the facts and try to blame a bipartisan decision on the just Democrats. The official unofficial GOP blog, Wrong Michigan, is trying float the lie that Michigan State University Trustee and MSP HQ developer Joel Ferguson is a Democratic sugar daddy and a close friend of Granholm, but the fact is he also contributes to Republicans. They also continue to push the lie that it was a no-bid contract, but the truth is Ferguson’s company was the only company to submit a bid.

Jones has gone off the rails opposing the project. According to Michigan Messenger, Jones is pushing the lie that the state police are in favor of scrapping the project, and alleged that Munoz was pressured politically to testify that he supported the move into the new headquarters or lose his job. That is a complete lie. Munoz’s support for the project has never wavered.

In addition to the construction jobs that will be lost if the project is killed just months before it is supposed to be complete, what kind of message does it send if after approving a contract and going through all of the proper steps, the state reneges on a contract just to look good for voters?

Even rightwing extremist GOP Sen. Alan Cropsey questioned how it would look for the state to refuse to occupy a building two governors asked for and was approved with bipartisan support.

“I just don’t think it is right to have a building built, and then at the end of that time period, tell the contractor saying, ‘We are sorry, but we are not going to use it now,’” he said. “ I just think that that is wrong, and I think the state ought to hold to what every body knows is supposed to be a State Police headquarters.”


Not Anonymous said...

So many things are misleading in this it's hard to keep up.

The building is on a flood plane. There is no parking.

Joel Ferguson is a huge socialist democrat supporter and a finance agent for blown away Jenny.

The lease is in the millions per year year. The current lease is $1.00 per year to MSU. The building currently occupied needs some repair but will not come close to the cost of this boondoggle in Lansing.

Yes, Engler did bring it up first. Blown away Jenny is the one that did it, giving it to Joel Ferguson her financial mentor.

The State Police have said from the start they didn't need new facilities. Blown away Jenny said on a news report with the ABC affiliate in Detroit, that MSU wanted their building back. Terry Denbow, an administrator for MSU said that wasn't true. They didn't need the building back and didn't ask for it back.

The current building the state police use is in Lansing, so that blows away that argument.

The construction workers will not lose their jobs until the building is completed in a couple of months unless Ferguson decides to lay them off, and not finish the building because the state doesn't pay on the lease. If he's smart, and he is a smart businessman, he will finish the building and lease it out to other businesses, provided there are any businesses that want to do business in a dying state.

Representative Rick Jones has been fighting against this building since the beginning. It's not the beginning of campaign season. This has been a controversy since it started.

The House may pass for the least to be paid, but without the Senate it won't be paid.

The State cannot afford to lay out millions of dollars per year for something that the State police didn't ask for and don't want, the people think is a terrificly huge waste of money. We are operating in the red as it is. If it wasn't for the state getting funds from the feds in the pork bill passed in the winter that nobody bothered to read before voting on, we'd be in even worse shape if we paid for that building.

This building has nothing to do with laying off state police officers. But it would if we had to pay those millions of dollars out for a building. We wouldn't be able to afford the officers if we took on this building.

But you keep on trying to make everything a Republican political ploy even when it's not. Maybe you'll be right eventually. After all a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Communications guru said...

In your dreams, brett. The bottom line is this was approved by the director of the MSP, the bipartisan Joint Capital Outlay Committee and the bipartisan State Administrative Board. I have no idea if “the building is on a flood plane and there is no parking” because you provide just your opinion, and it was approved all along the way by bipartisan committees.

First, brett, there is no such thing as a “socialist Democrat is this country, and that is just a fascist talking point. Second, while Ferguson is a Democrat because he is an MSU Trustee, the transaction is above board and approved by the bipartisan State Administrative Board. He is not a “finance agent” for the governor. What you have is a bunch of false innuendo with not an ounce of proof that ignores the facts.

The lease for the new, modern HQ is $4 million per year for the first year, but you of, course, ignore it costs in the millions to maintain a building MSU plans to tear down as soon as the MSP leaves.

Gov. Granholm scaled down what you are falsely calling a “boondoggle” from what Engler wanted. Once again, brett, Ferguson is not the Governor’s “financial mentor,” and he was not given anything. He went through the bid process, and it was approved by the bipartisan Joint Capital Outlay Committee and the bipartisan State Administrative Board. Like I said, it was all above board, and you cannot dispute that, with facts anyway.

You are wrong, the Director of the state police said he wants it and the State Police Troopers Association say they want it. Who is your source that the “State Police have said from the start they didn't need new facilities?” A desk sergeant in the Brighton Post? Yes, MSU doesn’t want the building back, but they want the property back.

Are you serious, brett? “The current building the state police use is in Lansing?” It is on the MSU campus, and MSU is in East Lansing. Lansing and East Lansing are two separate cities.

The building will be finished, and it is almost done. Ferguson won’t lease it out to other businesses. He will sue the state and he will win. This is a simple breach of contract. Well, you may think Michigan is a “dying state,” but you are wrong. If it’s a “dying state” why don’t you leave? Jones has opposed it for some time, but not “from the beginning.“ His interest was peaked with Channel 7’s recent report. I haven’t heard a lot from them until recently.

The lease will be paid. That was just a campaign stunt for Brown. The bill will go into conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions, and the smarter people will prevail.

The state is already laying out millions of dollars for the MSP HQ, and the MSP did ask for it.

This makes no sense. You say “This building has nothing to do with laying off state police officers,” but “it would if we had to pay those millions of dollars out for a building.” Well, we are. The layoffs are the fault of the state police. They, like all state departments, were told to cut 4 percent. Other departments found cuts elsewhere. The MSP bluffed and laid off a 100 Troopers, thinking the public would not allow it. The fact is the House had a way to save them, but the Senate refused to take it up. Republican Valde Garcia, the chair of the Appropriations sub-committee that sets the MSP budget, had a plan to save them. Mike Bishop refused to allow a vote.

State employees are taking six unpaid days off to avoid layoffs. The troopers were offered the same option, but they voted to turn it down.

Yes, I am calling Republicans out. I have never said otherwise. You can do anything you want on your blog. But here’s the thing, brett: I have never lied and I don’t think make stuff up to hammer them. Nothing I have written has been debunked.

Not Anonymous said...

Apparently, you need some facts for a change:


As the clocks ticks toward the deadline to avert a shutdown of state services, our chief investigative reporter Steve Wilson has been looking into a sweetheart deal that will cost Michigan millions.

It’s the story of a new state police headquarters that the state will lease from a friend and supporter of the Governor for nearly three times what it would cost to build…even though many say a new building isn’t even necessary now.

But not even the brass or workers at State Police headquarters in Lansing ever asked for a new building, never said it was cramped, or falling down around them. The troopers union once called it a boondoggle and still doesn’t support it. Yes, the present headquarters is 75 years old, but at just a-dollar-a-year for lease that still runs long into the future, even with high maintenance costs, taxpayers are getting a break.

Instead, the governor who first opposed the new downtown building has decided now its time taxpayers get ready to fork over $116.7 to a developer who happens to be her long-time friend and supporter, Joel Ferguson. Why, especially now?

Granholm: And as you know, Michigan State University has repeatedly asked for the land back… (Wilson) They have never asked for it back, Governor, I have the letters. They don’t ask for it back.

Terry Denbow speaks for M-S-U.

Terry Denbow/MSU Spokesman: The University didn’t ask for it back. I don’t know where you’re getting that. The university did not ask for it back.

Not Anonymous said...

Continued from previous post:

Wilson to Granholm: …and it was you who said ‘during tough economic times we must ensure that the state is getting the most out of every dollar. (Granholm) And that’s true Steve and I’m very concerned about making sure that the state and the taxpayers get the best bang for their buck…

But her friend, developer Joel Ferguson may be getting the biggest bang here in this no-bid deal. He’ll spend maybe $40 million to build it and then lease it to the state at higher than market rate for nearly three times as much. And the state could finance, build and manage the whole the project—without him—for $45 million less, that’s according to this state analyst report we’ve obtained….but Joel Ferguson says here’s the way to look at this deal:

Wilson to Joel Ferguson/Developer: So the state and taxpayers are actually making money by letting you build a $40 million building? (Ferguson) I would say yes.

He’ll hire construction workers, they’ll pay income taxes, the city will collect property taxes, the state gets the sales tax on all the building materials he’ll buy…

Ferguson: …the state actually, during the 21 months of construction, actually makes money.

But for 25 years after that, if the state doesn’t exercise a right to buy the building from him?

Wilson to Granholm: …we’re gonna pay through the nose if you keep the lease that long. (Granholm) This is a project that was started under the previous administration…

And don’t blame only the governor and Democrats…Sen. Cameron Brown was one of only three G-O-P lawmakers on the House-Senate Capital Outlay Committee who voted “NO”…it never came before the full legislature… and when Republicans like Terry Lynn Land on the State Administrative Board could have cited the governor’s directive against no-bid deals, or even common sense, and voted to block it? They did not.

Not Anonymous said...

continued from previous post:

Terry Lynn Land/Sec. of State: We got to go. Ha-ha-ha. (Wilson) You think this is funny? (Land) No. I think you’re a nice guy.

And the State Attorney General, another Republican who went along…

Mike Cox/Attorney General: When the colonel of the state police lets me know that this is important for him, I’m going to support it. Okay? Thanks.

Only the Colonel says he never had any such conversation with Mike Cox…and don’t suggest to Joel Ferguson that he’s collecting political payback for his donations to the governor…and his partner’s contributions to Republicans. When he claimed his contributions to the governor were only $3,000, we checked and found over the several years, it’s really totaled more than five times that much.

Wilson to Ferguson: So why do you sit here and make it sound like you’ve only given $3,000. You’ve paid plenty. (Ferguson) Out of $21 million it’s nothing and for anyone to imply that anyone in Lansing would do anything based on a campaign contribution…

Well that, he says would be ridiculous.

Wilson to Ferguson: You don’t think politicians are influenced by campaign contributions? (Ferguson) No, I don’t. (Wilson) Really? (Ferguson) People I’ve met, I just feel they’re influenced by what they can do for the State of Michigan.

And this, he insists, is the right project at the right time, even when the state is on the brink of broke….but he won’t explain why.

Ferguson: I’m out of here. (Wilson) Please don’t be seen walking away like this, sir. This is a legitimate question. (Ferguson) I answered. I said yes. (Wilson) Tell me why you think so. (Ferguson) I don’t need to tell you why… (Wilson) Except that you’re making a lot of money on this deal…

Now, the lease has already been signed but ground has not yet been broken. Mr. Ferguson boasts it’s a done deal but it still could be stopped. We’ve learned there’s a clause buried in the lease that says if the legislature doesn’t appropriate money to pay the lease when the building is ready, the lease is broken with no penalty to taxpayers. On our website tonight at wxyz.com you can vote whether or not you support this deal…and from there you can also send an e-mail to legislative leaders to tell them what you think they should do about this now.

Not Anonymous said...

and more:

Who voted for the plan?


Rep. Morris Hood (D-Detroit) Y
Rep. Michael Sak (D-Grand Rapids) Y
Rep. Doug Bennett (D-Muskegon) Y
Rep. Lee Gonzales (D-Flint Township) Y
Rep. Michael Lahti (D-Hancock) Y
Rep. Marsha Cheeks (D-Detroit) Y
Rep. John Proos (R-St. Joseph) Y
Sen. Ron Jelinek (R-Three Oaks) Y
Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-Dewitt) Y
Sen. Bill Hardiman (R-Kentwood) Y
Sen. Michael Switalski (D-Roseville) Y
Sen. Deborah Cherry (D-Burton) Y
Sen. Irma Clark-Coleman (D-Detroit) Y
Sen. Martha Scott (D-Highland Park) Y

Rep. Bill Caul (R-Mt. Pleasant) N
Sen. Cameron Brown (R-Sturgis) N
Sen. John Pappageorge (R-Troy) N

Rep. Rick Shaffer (R-Three Rivers) abstained
Rep. Darwin Booher (R-Evart) abstained
Sen. Michelle McManus (R-Lake Leelanau) abstained

Not Anonymous said...


Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Y
Lt. Gov. John Cherry, Y
Sec of State Terry Lynn Land, Y
Attorney General Mike Cox, Y
State Treasurer Robert Kleine, Y
Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle, Y
Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Flanagan, Y

What You Can Do Now:

Although a lease has been signed, it can be broken without penalty to taxpayers if legislators decide not to appropriate money payments starting in 2008. To express your thoughts on the deal, click here to write:

Senate Leadership: http://www.senate.michigan.gov/senators/senlead.html

House Leadership: http://www.house.michigan.gov/leadership.asp

Find the lawmakers who represent you: http://www.senate.michigan.gov/FindYourSenator/michiganfys.asp

If you receive response, click here to write Steve Wilson (wilson@wxyz.com) He’s interested in seeing it.

Not Anonymous said...

And finally, your statement that the current state police post is in E. Lansing rather than Lansing shows your ignorance.

The current state police post is not in E. Lansing. It's in Lansing. As you head west on I-96, you'll see it as you approach Don's Truck stop at the Lansing Rd. Exit on I96. This will be the next exit following the exit for MLK Blvd, formerly Logan.

This is in southwest lansing. Even you should be able to find it as you look to your left. There will be many state police cars out there.

It is owned by MSU, but it's not in E. Lansing.

Yes, you've been debunked many times, you've been caught in many lies. Saying that you don't lie, and haven't lied only shows your lack of ability to recognize reality.

Communications guru said...

Well, I’m still waiting for some facts from you: I always provide facts and links. What you provided was a piece of sensationalized theatre.

I don’t give a dam if the Governor and Ferguson are friends or not. The project was bid properly, and it was approved by the bipartisan Joint Capital Outlay Committee and the bipartisan State Administrative Board. As for a supporter of the governor, so are 60 percent of Michigan voters. Plus, his partner in the Granger Group, Gary Granger, gives heavily to Republicans.

Michigan State Police Director Peter Munoz supports the project and has always supported the project.

I have no idea where he gets that line, “nearly three times what it would cost to build.” As for “many say a new building isn’t even necessary now” the fact is the MSP Director and the last two governors disagree.

“But not even the brass or workers at State Police headquarters in Lansing ever asked for a new building?” I would consider Peter Munoz “brass.” The troopers union also supports it.

Yes, Gov. Granholm at first opposed it, and that’s why she scaled it down.

Communications guru said...

First, it’s not a no-bid deal. Second, if “her friend, developer Joel Ferguson may be getting the biggest bang here” them why did the bipartisan administration board approve it? That includes GOP Attorney General Mike Cox and GOP SOS Terri Land.

Communications guru said...

Wait, you claimed no state police support it, but then you supply evidence that says you are lying. “Mike Cox/Attorney General: When the colonel of the state police lets me know that this is important for him, I’m going to support it. Okay? Thanks. “

Is Cox lying? He could be; after all, he is a Republican, and he cheated on his wife. But he’s telling the truth here.

Wilson is lying when he says, “Only the Colonel says he never had any such conversation with Mike Cox.” The director of the state police testified in support of the project at the Admin board hearing in August of 2007.

Again, I don’t give a dam how much money Ferguson gave to the governor. He went through the bid process, and it was approved by the bipartisan Joint Capital Outlay Committee and the bipartisan State Administrative Board. Like I said, it was all above board, and you cannot dispute that, with facts anyway.

Communications guru said...

Wow. 14-3; not even close. And, it passed Republicans 4-3. How is this a payback to a Democrat again?

Communications guru said...

Wow, the vote by the bipartisan state Administration Board was unanimous? I had no idea. Once again, brettt; how is this a payback to a Democrat?

Wilson is wrong, there will be a penalty to taxpayers when they try and break a contract.

Communications guru said...

And finally, you are full of it, brett. The address of the MSP HQ is

Michigan State Police Headquarters
714 S. Harrison Road
East Lansing, Michigan 48823
Information: (517) 332-2521


You have never debunked anything I have written, and you never will. I have never been caught in a lie. On the few times I make a mistake, I admit it and correct it.

rick said...

The proposed lease of the building for MSP HQ is a stinky deal. Yes Engler considered such a building but not at this location. He wanted a true consolidation someday when the state had the money. He did not go ahead with the project. Granholm picked up the deal on her own. Yes a small capitol outlay committee approved it. NOT the entire House and Senate. In fact many senators and reps told the developer to NOT build the building. They put in writing that the state would not have the money for the deal. The developer chose to go ahead with the scheme. After all the millionaire has always gotten his way with his high priced lobbyists and PR firm. Now the senate has said no and he is crying. A contract is a contract; the contract clearly says if the state legislature does not appropriate money then the lease ends. Other leases have ended the same way in the past.

The proper way for a new state building to be built is to get competitive bids from all developers. Other developers have stated they were not allowed to bid. Then the state should select land that the state already owns if possible and sell bonds. That is the most frugal way for a new building to be built. This whole project was a scheme to get around the proper way to build a new building.

This is NOT a true consolidation as Engler envisioned. It is not big enough to house everyone. The Collins Road facility will have to remain open. Also a new Emergency Operations Center will have to be built. More millions to be spent. Also you would never ever put a MSP HQ in a central city. In the time of war or terrorism it becomes the center of homeland security. It should be out in a safe and secure compound. To meet the constitution the Col. simply has an office downtown with the Governor. NOT the whole HQ. That is nonsense and everyone knows it.

So what we have is a HQ leased for a dollar a year at MSU until 2030. It needs slight repair. MSU is currently studying all the wonderful uses they can make of the building. MSU officials have said: "it's a beautiful building, we may move the MSU University Police into the building."

So the taxpayers get screwed. A developer and his buddy make a fortune. Yes they make political donations to both sides. Business as usual in Lansing. When will it end? Lets hope the House follows the senate and votes NO on this boondoggle.

Communications guru said...

You know what, “Rick,” I’m not buying into your spin. This was a bipartisan decision that was above board and went through all the proper channels. Your spin on Engler is simply untrue.

A “small capitol outlay committee approved it?” There are 20 members on it. Show me any committee with that many members. That is how every capitol project is approved. This was not a special circumstances just for this project Why the spin now? Why not for other projects? I‘m missing the alleged “scheme.” The developer did everything by the book. “Other leases have ended the same way in the past?” Name one.

The project was bid like every other state project. What “Other developers have stated they were not allowed to bid?” Name one. Once again, this project followed the letter of the law like every other state project.

I don’t know about your spin about a “true consolidation.” I have your misguided opinion, nothing else. I see no problem with putting a MSP HQ in a central city. In fact, there is a constitutional provision requiring that state departments be headquartered in Lansing and with Governor Jennifer Granholm's executive directive (2003-22) that state offices, where possible, be located in central business districts.

“So, what we have is an HQ leased for a dollar a year at MSU until 2030” that needs major repair and does not fit the needs of the MSP. It needs a new roof at a cost of at least $2.3 million and other upkeep. No, MSU plans to tear down the building when the state police leave.

No, the taxpayers did not get screwed. What “developer and his buddy make a fortune?“ “Yes they make political donations to both sides,” but the project was above board and followed every single step required by law. The House is too mature to pull a cheap political stunt like the Senate did.