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  • admin
  • 03 April 2014

April 3, 2014

Mike Jackson: Scandal surrounds Snyder administration

By now, Gov. Rick Snyder and his administration have a new middle name, and it is “scandal.”

In recent days, observers and the news media are asking questions whether the Snyder administration stepped in to influence legislation that would benefit the governor’s cousin, George Snyder, who was trying to get a state furniture contract. The back and forth will go on for some time in a fog of claims and counter-claims.

What’s clear to the voters of Michigan is that the stink of cronyism, nepotism and backdoor deals is starting to cling to Gov. Snyder like a bad smell.

The freshly unearthed Furniture-gate scandal involving Snyder’s cousin, desks and cubicles, the now departed budget director John Nixon and a flurry of incriminating emails is just the latest in a string of incidents that, by now, should raise serious questions about whether Snyder can be trusted — and whether he even knows what he’s doing.

Consider this partial “dirty laundry” list of the first three-and-a-half years of the Snyder record:

Snyder hired a top aide with full access to government — yet paid him from a secret fund that, thanks to public scrutiny, has now been “reinvented” into a slightly less secret fund.

Top government officials worked behind closed doors with the private sector on the now infamous “skunk works” project designed to dismantle public education — obviously without a single public school teacher, administrator or school board member in the room.

In December 2013, Snyder said the nation’s “democracy thrives and our government is at its best when there is openness and accountability, all while our freedoms of speech and association are protected” — as he signed a new law that opens the floodgates to more untraceable dark money that threatens the very democracy he claims to care about.

These are just a few examples of how Snyder never does what he says, or does the opposite of what he says, the most infamous case being his repeated pledge that “right to work” was not on his agenda — until he suddenly added it to his agenda after a shakedown by, among others, Dick DeVos and other opponents of working men and women. In gratitude, the DeVos family gave more than $700,000 to the two Republican caucuses in the Michigan Legislature. The entire saga of how Snyder flipped overnight on this issue is an illustration of a man who allows himself to be played like a puppet by powerful special interests.

Every Michigan citizen should be concerned whether special interests are weighing in to unfairly steer government to benefit themselves.

Every Michigan citizen should be concerned when Snyder calls for “shared sacrifices from all,” as he did in his inaugural address in 2011 — and then takes more than $1 billion from schoolchildren so big corporations could enjoy a tax break that may or may not have created a single job.

Just a few months before those school cuts were made, Snyder’s cousin fired off an email to top officials in the Snyder Administration, apparently trying to catch a break on what would have been a lucrative state contract. Within 80 minutes, the cousin — who gave $15,000 to Snyder’s campaign — got responses from two of Snyder’s most senior officials, including Nixon, promising action. We now know the cousin has won nearly $900,000 in contracts during Snyder’s first term, more than under any governor.

For ordinary citizens, the message is clear: It pays to be Snyder’s cousin and it pays to contribute handsomely to his political campaign.

Michiganians deserve much more than scandal from the governor who claimed in his 2010 campaign that he would make Michigan a national leader in transparency.

Mike Jackson is executive secretary-treasurer of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights Detroit.

From The Detroit News: