Editorial Roundup: Michigan

Detroit News. March 15, 2023.

Editorial: Big Labor having its way in Lansing

The new Legislature, ruled by thin Democratic majorities in each chamber and conducted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, has already handed over enormous power to unions in this term. What’s still on the union wish list is even more egregious.

In passing the repeal of right to work, Democrats in Michigan have put the state on a backward course economically. But their aggressive union agenda has only just begun.

“We have to be worried and on guard that this majority seems hell-bent on ramming through the priorities of the unions,” House Minority Leader Matt Hall told The Detroit News editorial board. “They’ve been chomping at the bit to do this for 40 years. Now this is their chance.”

Democrats have already passed the repeal of the right-to-work law, depriving Michigan of a competitive tool for luring jobs and investment. Well on their way to final adoption are bills to make union dues fully tax refundable and to lift the cap on union political donations.

Now, Democrats are squabbling internally over bills that include language to allow teachers unions to collectively bargain over a list of issues currently off-limits to negotiation.

Included are decisions such as when the school term should start and permitting teachers to call a strike in the middle of the school year, something currently illegal under Michigan law.

Teachers would also gain the power to get rid of an emergency manager if a school is bankrupt; to decide whether districts should permit school choice, and if a consolidation of districts should be undertaken.

This would be an enormous win for the Michigan Education Association, the most influential force in the Capitol at the moment.

Fortunately, school superintendents and and other education groups have managed to keep these extreme measures from coming to a vote.

And rightfully so. Teachers should have a voice in how schools run, but they shouldn’t run them.

In addition, a prevailing wage substitute bill was eventually pulled back that would have required companies that receive state subsidies or tax abatements to also pay union wages, whether or not their workers were organized.

A few Democratic lawmakers, who broke ranks with their caucus on these more extreme measures, have spared Michigan from complete capitulation to the union agenda. But the fight continues.

Lots of bad policymaking is going on in Lansing, and its transactional nature can’t be ignored. Freeing unions from campaign finance limits while at the same time foisting onto taxpayers the cost of their dues will enrich unions and provide them with more cash to shower on Democratic politicians.

No consideration is given to the impact of turning over schools to the MEA, or of placing union interests ahead of sound economic policy.

There’s suddenly a wide opening in Lansing, and Democrats are going to exploit it until it closes. And it will. Voters eventually recognize such self-dealing for what it is.

“We’ll look back at this time as when the Democrat Party put the priorities of these union bosses over workers and taxpayers,” Hall said.

It’s a shame, but he’s right.


Traverse City Record-Eagle. March 12, 2023.

Editorial: Sunshine Week celebrates need for open government

A mere 45 words, penned by James Madison, lay the foundation for our representative democracy.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

These words, which comprise the First Amendment, are essential to the health and well-being of this country.

These words aren’t just an expression of high-minded ideals; they are acted upon.

They are practiced every day in this nation. And they are practiced in this newspaper.

These words ensure — more than 230 years after their ratification — that this republic continues to withstand those who would tear it down or take it over.

This is Sunshine Week in America, an annual observance launched in 2005 by the Association of News Editors — now the News Leaders Association — to raise awareness of the need for open government.

The founders understood that the people need the press — and still do — to help them keep track of their government and the officials they have elected to serve them.

The value of a free press is essential to ensure an open and accountable government. The press is not here to be liked by everybody or to curry favor with elected officials. We’re here to report what’s happening, without fear or favor, and to hold local government accountable to the people.

In recent years, transparency in the functioning of government — at all levels — has diminished.

And, with fewer news staffs working to ensure government accountability in communities across the state and nation, public scrutiny has been compromised.

In addition, the ease of internet access allows for a lot of propaganda to spread from untrustworthy sources, with virtually no counterbalance from legitimate local news organizations.

As a result, what we do as journalists has become even more important. Not only are we striving to support the public welfare by seeking facts through verification, we are accountable for what we publish.

Here’s what one reader recently wrote: “Journalism on this and other Record-Eagle pages —and beyond — is essential to a community and to democracy itself. We need you, print media. Be proud of the term — and of the now-more-difficult-than-ever job that you do! Thank you.”

During this week, as we reflect on the importance of open government to our democracy, we recognize the critical role we fulfill in informing the people about whether their government is serving them — or not.