Apr 29, 2010
Senate Republicans fiddle while Michigan smolders
LANSING -- If anyone wants to know why bipartisanship and cooperation are hard to come by in Lansing just needs to take a look at the action on Wednesday of the Senate Republicans and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop in unilaterally rejecting appointments Gov. Jennifer Granholm made to six university boards for terms that begin the day she leaves office with no hearings.
Granholm made the bipartisan appointments on April 7, and she followed previous precedent set by former Republican Gov. John Engler in making the same type of appointments. In fact, at least one of the 14 people on the list, Doug Roberts, was one of those appointed by Engler. None of Engler’s appointees ever had to go through the advise and consent process.
Granholm laid the blame squarely where it belongs.
“Senator Bishop rejected qualified appointees to serve our state universities, making them nothing more than partisan political pawns,” Granholm said in a statement. “He chose to ignore the advice of an attorney in his own caucus and rejected sitting board members like Doug Roberts, who Republicans have confirmed in the past, just to make a partisan point.”
Republicans tried this last Thursday, but Democrats used a parliamentary procedure to thwart them. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, made a motion to adjourn and Lt. Governor John Cherry Jr., the Senate's presiding officer, granted it - in accordance with Senate rules - over the objection of Senate Majority Floor Leader Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt.
Republicans were a little more prepared yesterday. They took a recess for an hour until Cherry left the chamber, and they then reconvened with Sen. Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, in the chair and took up the issue.
While the budget waits and people are unemployed, Republicans killed an hour until the Lt. Gov. had to go to another appointment and left the chamber. That is just sad. They again proved that petty politics and keeping power is more important than anything else.
“In addition, it shows that we are having another unproductive and self-serving day in the State Senate,” said Sen. Deb Cherry, D-Burton, “After focusing a full session day on this last week, Senate Republican leadership continues to focus on this political issue instead of addressing the bills to create jobs and help Michigan workers.”
Cherry them brought a motion consider each of the 14 appointees separately. That failed along party lines. Last Thursday, the same motion almost passed, and two Republicans sided with the Democrats while another Republican did not vote because they supported some of the 14 appointees. The effort failed 18-19. Ironically, Richardville voted with the Democrats. He must have gotten a good talking to and went along with the party line.
Only Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton, voted with the Democrats for a second time. Patterson - one of only three attorneys in the Senate - said summarily rejecting the appointments appears to go against the Constitution. He is a stickler for the constitution, and he spent the weekend researching the issue, as well as discovering that Governors as far back as Republican Gov. William Miliken has used the same procedure that was rejected yesterday.
“Here we are taking action en masse, even rejecting people we’ve approved in the past,” Patterson said. “When we look at Article VIII, Section 6, it talks about the boards of control and how they are to be constituted,” Patterson. “But, again, that’s just picky,picky, picky little details.”
Senate Minority Leader Mike Prusi, D-Ishpeming, challenged anyone to "look me in the eye" and say the appointees were getting fair and equitable treatment.
“The Michigan Senate has not rejected university appointments without hearing in recent history,” Prusi said. “Over the last 20 years, no gubernatorial appointee—and that includes Governors of both political parties who have made appointments to the boards of control—has been rejected without at least giving them a hearing.”