From the chair
“Our purpose in life is to help others along the way. May you each try to do the same.” Those words are from Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, in a letter to her three sons, and read at her funeral last week.
It is the consummate description of the term “public servant.” All too often in the day-to-day turmoil of politics, we tend to overlook the thousands of people around us whose mission is not power, fame or riches: but to serve.
For our final podcast of 2023, I wanted to focus on those people. It is easy to take them for granted. Sadly the only time we think of them is when they temporarily disappear. A federal government shutdown – something we may see in a matter of weeks – will take away from us some of those services.
Part of the problem is that doing a good job doesn’t make for very interesting news stories. News focuses on the unusual, the unexpected. So when we read about public service, it too often is in the context of something bad.
It’s also a shortcoming of our competitive political system. Candidates focus on what they see as the flaws in the performance of their opponents. For example, we’re hearing a lot of rhetoric about a failed economy from those seeking to regain power. The leading Republican candidates for president – including the former president – speak incessantly about how our nation is in trouble when the facts demonstrate just the opposite. Our economy is thriving. It isn’t perfect, but it’s the strongest in the world. Inflation has come down, prices of things like gasoline, travel and many food items have come down. Unemployment is at record-low levels, wages are increasing, and the predicted post-pandemic recession never happened.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be focusing on public service that is quietly succeeding. In January we’ll talk with Attorney General Nessel about the literally thousands of actions taken by her team that never make news, but improve the lives of Michiganders every day. We’ll hear from House Speaker Joe Tate on what the 2023 legislative record means to improving your life.
This week we go behind the scenes with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the work of her team on so many customer-service related efforts that don’t make headlines, but improve the service you receive from your state government. Since her election as Secretary of State in 2018, Secretary Benson has worked tirelessly to make the service you receive from her department more efficient, less costly and even more pleasant. While her department’s work on elections makes the headlines, it’s the other work of the department that impacts your life on a regular basis.
She talked with us about those services, and how her team has improved them. (The interview was recorded before the federal court ruling on Michigan’s legislative districts, and before The Detroit News revealing the existence of an audio recording of President Trump and Republican National Chairperson Ronna Romney McDaniel attempting to overturn Joe Biden’s Michigan victory in 2020.)
In the News
- Whitmer’s proposed rebate to lower costs of purchasing a car – Detroit Free Press
- Michigan’s income tax rate can rise in 2024, judge says – Detroit Free Press
- Michigan reviving ’60s era green and white license plate – Lansing State Journal
- Michigan needs to redraw 13 House, Senate districts, orders federal judges – mlive.com
- Report: Michigan could lose congressional seat if population trends persist – Bridge Michigan
- Republicans face difficult path to victory in Michigan Senate race – Washington Examiner
- Will Michigan Democrats maintain control under redrawn maps? – Detroit Free Press
- Can this Michigan county, deeply divided on politics and policy, reach a truce? – The Washington Post
- The Hidden History of America’s Suburbs – POLITICO
GOP Crime Watch
- Nessel charges former House GOP staffers with corruption – WGVU NEWS
- Judge criticizes Trump’s expert witness as he again refuses to toss fraud lawsuit – AP News
- Trump recorded pressuring Wayne Co. canvassers not to certify 2020 vote – Detroit News
- Colorado Supreme Court decision kicks Trump off the ballot in state – Detroit Free Press
- Supreme Court rejects prosecutor’s push to fast-track ruling in Trump election subversion case – AP News
- Nearly a Quarter of Trump Voters Say He Shouldn’t Be Nominated if Convicted – The New York Times
- 3 in 10 Trump voters want a president willing to break ‘rules and laws’ – The Washington Post
- One year of Trump’s praise for authoritarians – POLITICO
MI GOP Senate Circular Firing Squad
- Senate GOP campaign arm whacks Meijer for entering Michigan Senate race – POLITICO
- Michigan GOP blames ‘intern’ for anti-Peter Meijer tweet – Detroit News
- Senate GOP campaign arm clashes with Republican Meijer over Michigan Senate bid – The Hill
- Private Power-Player Phone Calls Roil Michigan’s GOP Senate Race: ‘These Things Get Ugly’ (Exclusive) – The Messenger
- GOP voter-fraud crackdown overwhelmingly targets minorities, Democrats – The Washington Post
- US Consumer Confidence December 2023: Surges by Most Since Early 2021 – Bloomberg
- Harris to step up abortion rights push as part of new Biden effort – The Washington Post
- Wisconsin Supreme Court rules against GOP-drawn legislative maps – The Washington Post
- Texas law lets police arrest migrants who enter the US illegally – AP News
- Nikki Haley charted a lucrative path after leaving government in 2018 – The Washington Post
- Biden condemns Trump remark that immigrants are ‘poisoning’ America – The Washington Post
- Crime is down, though Fox News viewers might not be aware – The Washington Post
- ‘Smash-and-grab’ robberies fuel new laws, but critics question the need – Stateline
- Clarence Thomas’ Money Complaints Sparked Resignation Fears — ProPublica