Blog Posts For The Week Of January 24, 2015 Through January 30, 2015

Yes Campaign For Roads Is A Mess
By Zachary Gorchow
Editor

Posted: January, 30 2015 1:19 PM

The effort to convince voters to pass a sales tax increase as part of a plan to raise $1.2 billion for roads as well as smaller amounts for public schools, local government services and low-income tax relief is not doomed, but it is hard to imagine how it could be off to a worse start.

To quickly recap, the last 48 hours has seen the Yes campaign team quit in a dispute with Governor Rick Snyder’s chief liaison on the issue about which firms should perform which work and a political missile study asserting that the changes to vehicle registrations as part of the plan would scuttle the ability for motorists to deduct their registration fees from their federal income taxes.

There also was a poll with ominous numbers for the Yes side, but I’m going to put that in third place in importance, mainly because I question just how many of those surveyed who say they are very certain to vote in an unprecedented May special statewide election actually will do so. The poll surveyed likely presidential election year voters, and of the 600 surveyed, 77 percent said they were very certain to vote May 5.

That would put turnout at 50 percent, and that would far exceed turnout in nine of the last 10 regular November midterm elections, something that seems very unlikely. The closest precedent to the upcoming May 5 vote is the March 15, 1994, special statewide election to decide Proposal A and that saw 39 percent turnout. Let’s see how the polls look in March, once efforts to contact and educate voters have had time to percolate.

Mr. Snyder can try to minimize all he wants the significance of a complete change in campaign staff – and I can understand why he did just that Thursday when he called it a start-up, not a shake-up. But in a four and a half month campaign, the Yes side just started over one-third of the way into it.

The disjointed response from the Yes side to the study from the Anderson Economic Group charging the roads plan would cost those who itemize their deductions on their federal income taxes the ability to deduct their vehicle registration fee serves as the clearest example of the Yes side’s woes.

The Anderson Economic Group unveiled the findings in a way to maximize impact, releasing them exclusively in the morning on WJR-AM. Web stories quickly followed from news outlets, including this one.

But there was anything from a unified response from supporters of the plan:

  • The sponsor of the vehicle registration bill, Rep. Mike McCready (R-Bloomfield Hills), concurred with the Anderson study and said he was well aware of the repercussions regarding the tax deduction;
  • The Michigan Department of Treasury said the bill would not eliminate the tax deduction;
  • Mr. Snyder said staff is researching the issue.

The timing of the story could not have been worse. It hit just as the campaign staff was pulling out, so it left no one in the campaign itself to coordinate communications and quickly respond. Instead, it was six to eight hours after the original WJR broadcast before Treasury made public its dissent about the Anderson report.

None of this is to say Proposal 1 has no shot at success. But it always has been a long-shot, even with a perfectly executed campaign.

And so far, this is anything but a perfectly executed campaign.

The Full Lyrics To ‘Michigan, My Michigan’ Because …
By John Lindstrom
Publisher

Posted: January, 26 2015 4:12 PM

Because today, January 26, is the 178th anniversary of the date Michigan joined the union in 1837, after we gave up trying to get Toledo in exchange for all of the Upper Peninsula.

“Michigan, My Michigan” is kind of the state’s anthem. Sung to the tune of “Oh, Christmas Tree” (or “Maryland, My Maryland).

The song’s lyrics were originally written during the Civil War, shortly after the murderous Battle of Fredericksburg. The lyric’s author, Lee Brent Lyster, was the wife of a Michigan veteran. The mayor of Grand Rapids rewrote the lyrics in the 1880s, but they still had a martial tone, and then in 1902 Douglas Malloch wrote new lyrics for a convention of women’s clubs meeting in Muskegon.

It is these lyrics we generally sing:

A song to thee, fair State of mine,
Michigan, my Michigan.
But greater song than this is thine,
Michigan, my Michigan.
The whisper of the forest tree,
The thunder of the inland sea,
Unite in one grand symphony
Of Michigan, my Michigan.

I sing a State of all the best—
Michigan, my Michigan.
I sing a State with riches blessed—
Michigan, my Michigan.
Thy mines unmask a hidden store,
But richer thy historic lore,
More great the love thy builders bore,
Oh, Michigan, my Michigan.

How fair the bosom of thy lakes,
Michigan, my Michigan.
What melody each river makes,
Michigan, my Michigan.
As to thy lakes, the rivers tend,
Thine exiled children to thee send
Devotion that shall never end,
Oh, Michigan, my Michigan.

Rich in the wealth that makes a State,
Michigan, my Michigan.
Great in the things that make men great,
Michigan, my Michigan.
Our loyal voices sound thy claim
Upon the golden roll of fame;
Our loyal hands shall write the name
Thy home will never be the same, my Michigan
Oh Michigan, my Michigan.

Generally, only the first verse is sung. Charles Ballard, the well-known economics professor at Michigan State University, is also a singer himself and almost always ends his public presentations by exhorting the crowd to sing “Michigan, My Michigan” with him. He did so last week at a forum of the MSU Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, and the crowd boisterously joined in.

So, warm up your warblers and sing, Michiganders.

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John Lindstrom
Publisher
jwlindstrom@gongwer.com
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