Skubick: Snyder's unfinished business starting to pile up - New York News

Skubick: Snyder's unfinished business starting to pile up

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LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -

Every effective leader had one.

President Nixon had Bob Halderman.

Gov. Milliken had his Jerry Miller.

Gov. Blanchard relied on the whiz kid Bob Bowman.

Gov. John Engler had Gov. John Engler and Gov. Granholm had John Cherry, though most in town believe he was heavily under- utilized.

Nonetheless these leaders had that somebody who could get in the clinches, toss around a couple of upper cuts, if needed, and do what was necessary to advance the agenda of the boss.

Which brings us to the current occupant of the executive suite.

Who does Gov. Rick Snyder have to do his clean and dirty work?

Best one can tell his go-to-guy is the Lt. Gov. Brian Calley.

They appear to be a good team as the governor is not afraid to share the limelight with his second in command and Mr. Calley has labored hard in the legislative vineyards and has helped to produce some significant wins for the administration.

But the undone stuff they are still struggling to adopt is piling up like the garbage in your neighbor's backyard and it's beginning to stink.

Insuring 400,000 in the Medicaid system, creating a market place for competitive health care insurance, a re-do of no-fault car insurance and the transportation package languish as the administration struggles mightily to reduce the stench.

Increasingly the players in this town are wondering, where's the beef?

Lobbyist on the road funding issue are especially flummoxed by the inaction. They are overjoyed to have a governor leading the charge but his "leadership" has not produced any votes and the mood in the room when they met the other day was gloomy as they see time wasting away as the pot holes continue to multiply.

"They (lawmakers) just want to get to the 4th of July and then they won't have to do anything," laments one lobbyist eager to see the governor's rhetoric of $1.2 billion a year turned into reality.

Some even yearn for the days of former Gov. John Engler who did his own heavy lifting, did his own name taking and calling; he was never bashful retaliating against those who burned him and was eager to mix it up to get what he wanted.  He was the gover-nator before there was Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In fact a former GOP senator tells the tale about Mr. Engler finally getting off his duff and deciding the state needed a gas tax hike. He was at the end of his rope when he called-in this senator who chaired the sub-committee handling the bill.

"I'm done with it," the frustrated governor opined and then tossed the bill in the senator's lap and walked out of the room saying he was going home for the night.

The senator said he knew what he had to do. "He was my governor. And out of loyalty, I voted for my first tax increase.  Besides you never know what you might want from the governor later on."

Exactly. That's how the system works.

The question is does this governor instill loyalty like that?  Will they walk the plank for him knowing he will return the favor down the road?

Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer says she remembers those Engler days and urges Mr. Snyder  to go there.

But as one source puts it, "That's not him." He doesn't like confrontation and doesn't possess a woodshed.  Heck, he doesn't even like to swear.

It's not as if he is afraid of making tough decisions.  Over the objections of his inner circle he raised the pension tax on some seniors; with the threat of a public backlash, he sent an Emergency Manager into Motown; he ignored the legislature to build the bridge to Canada but in this game, it's what have you done lately?

Since he is not John Engler, he's got to figure out how to get this unfinished business done by molding a bi-partisan bulwark that will thwart the ultra right-wingers in his own party who so far are showing the governor up by denying him a win on all those issues.

His critics could say, merely uttering Relentless Positive Action over and over again and saying "let's get fired up" will not produce the 56 house and 20 votes he needs to get it done.  At least it hasn't so far.

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