Shortly before the University of Michigan basketball team prepared to play Illinois on Tuesday in a game that would see the school win its first outright Big Ten title in 28 years, the official Michigan Basketball Facebook page posted a photo to fire up fans.
Here is the photo:
There are three recognizable faces, two obvious to college basketball followers and one for those who follow state government and politics. On the left is U-M head coach John Beilein. In the foreground is forward Glenn Robinson III. And to Robinson’s right, standing up, with the white hair and smiling (and circled by me for your benefit) is Rep. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake).
With nearly 2,600 people sharing the photo to their own Facebook timelines and more than 12,000 liking it, word of the Shirkey cameo quickly spread like wildfire.
Rep. Patrick Somerville (R-New Boston) used his Facebook page to ask Mr. Shirkey if the person in the photo was in fact him, and Mr. Shirkey responded in the affirmative. “They're not used to having someone a bit animated in the front row,” he wrote back.
This is certainly a happier photo than the last time a Michigan elected official was snapped in a notable one at Crisler Center. Last season, a Detroit Free Press photographer snapped a shot of Governor Rick Snyder, who was sitting courtside with his wife Sue, grimacing as forward Mitch McGary nearly crashed into them while diving for a loose ball.
Hard to think, after the winter Michigan has endured, there will come a time when air conditioning is called for, and in getting ready for dearly desired warmer days visitors to the Capitol will see some work underway beginning next week.
Workers will start the process of replacing the cooling towers for the Capitol which are on the south side of the building, the Senate side.
Cooling “towers” may be a bit of a misnomer, since they are actually underground and identifiable by the large grates keeping one from plunging into the depths. That is, plunging into the depths actually as opposed to figuratively, as sometimes life in politics must seem.
Steve Benkovsky, director of Capitol Facilities, said the work should continue until about mid-May. The project is fairly complicated involving pulling out pipes, installing new hardware and such. Certainly it will be more involved than simply replacing a window unit in a bedroom.
Therefore the project will require putting up fences to ensure pedestrians are blocked off from harm while the work is ongoing.
So when the fences go up, just say to yourself: it will get warmer, it will get warmer.
On Monday the U.S. National Parks Service released data that showed that more than 2 million people visited Michigan’s national parks and lakeshores in 2012.
It’s serendipity that the National Parks Service made the announcement on Monday, because Monday was the 139th anniversary of Mackinac Island being named the second national park in these here United States.
On March 3, 1875, what is known to Michiganders simply as “the island” was designated a national park just three years after Yellowstone became the first national park. You may have heard of Yellowstone, it has a geyser.
In 1895, what was called Mackinac Island National Park was turned back over to the state, and the state park land covers much of the tourist attraction.
In 2012, the National Park Service reports, more than 2.192 million visited the state’s five national parks and natural designations. The best known of those are Isle Royal, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks.
If Mackinac Island was still a national park, one can only imagine how many more people would have been added to that total.
In recent years a new bit of political shorthand has covered the landscape, the idea of a “rule of law” judge.
The common definition for a rule of law judge is one who is deferential to the political authority and does not make law from the bench and interprets only as the political body would determine and so on. It’s a phrase to invoke the opposite of the dreaded “judicial activist.”
Yeah, yeah, fine. Anyone who has read George Orwell’s essay on political language (which along with “1984” and “Animal Farm” should be required reading) knows that any political descriptive phrase is mostly semantic nonsense. Fine, one is for “freedom of…”, “right to…” “pro” this or that. Such phrases and names are terribly polite ways of masking often unpleasant and direct truths. Such phrases are used in regular speech as well, so one is not old but a senior citizen, not fat but blessed with excess untrained muscle and so on.
Of course, could one name a single judge who would not define him or herself as a rule of law judge? Doubtful. Judges have to interpret law, have to decide what the freaking heck lawmakers meant when they wrote whatever they wrote, have to decide how a circumstance falls into place in a given law. And when they do, despite their protest, they know they are making law from the bench. It should be in the job description, because that’s what a judge has to do.
With that in mind, this decision released Friday by the Michigan Court of Appeals should serve as an object lesson of just how twisted and exhausting trying to actively interpret what the rule of law should or might be can turn out to be. In Gongwer’s daily report there will be a story on the case, but dust off your wits and rule away.