Over the past several months, I’ve been approached by a number of people, and asked about the political leanings of Matt and Rene Greff, the owners of Ypsilanti’s Corner Brewery. They, as you may know, were very vocal in their support of Rick Snyder for Governor, and, now that Rick is in office, and people are beginning to feel the effects of his policy decisions, questions are being asked. Earlier today, a comment was left on this site by someone named Bob. He asked whether or not I was comfortable having the Shadow Art Fair in a venue know for supporting Snyder. You can read the entire exchange in the last Shadow Art Fair thread, but here’s Rene Greff’s response. My response to Bob can be found below.
I would like to think that Matt and I and our businesses have proven ourselves enough over the years that people wouldn’t throw us under the bus for one questionable decision. In all of our years of politics we have given money to exactly one republican and at the same time have given tens of thousands of dollars to democrats both inside and outside of our own districts.
We hosted election night events for Rebekah Warren, Jeff Irwin, and Paul Schreiber because we endorsed, gave money, wrote letters, canvassed, and hosted events for them – just like we did for Mark Schauer, John Dingell and a host of other democrats. I wonder if Bob committed that much time, energy and money to getting democrats elected.
Over the years we have received a lot of hate mail from angry right-wing customers, had our busineness picketed by the right to life, had our home picketed by anti-tax nut-jobs, and had threatening letters sent to our businesses and slipped inside of the door at our house for our very vocal public support for everything from immigrant workers’ rights, Planned Parenthood, GLBT rights, Michigan Peaceworks, and for hosting partisan democratic events.
This last election cycle honestly scared the crap out of us. We have friends who worked in Mike Cox’s office and had enough inside knowledge of Bouchard and of course Hoekstra to know that if any of them were to win the governor’s seat, it would mean a complete dismantling of our state’s public safety net and a big step backward for gay rights.
We also knew that, once again, as is our way, the dems put up a completely lame candidate that couldn’t possibly win in a mid-term election where everyone knew there would be a republican sweep. We knew Rick personally because he is the uncle of a good (dem) friend of ours and he had helped us re-write our operating agreement a few years back when the brewpub was struggling to survive.
So when he contacted us to tell us he was considering running, we did our due diligence. We met with Rick and asked a lot of questions and in the end thought that helping him win the Republican primary was our best chance of avoiding disaster in the general. We didn’t even vote in the republican primary because we had too many friends running in the democratic primary. And of course, we didn’t sneak around and try to pretend that we weren’t supporting Rick. We were completely public about our choice and our reasons.
Are we thrilled with how things have turned out? No. But we made our best judgment with the information we had, and I still believe that any of the other Republicans would have been MUCH worse and trust me – a republican was going to win that election.
And I have to say I think it’s pretty shitty to compare us to Walmart because of one questionable decision after 21 years of living in this community and not only supporting, but putting ourselves out there and fighting for democrats and progressive causes.
Since Corner opened in 2006, we have contributed to hundreds of local non-profits and hosted fundraisers for democrats running for everything from the local school board to the US Senate. We currently employ 25 people – most of whom are within walking distance and since opening, have partnered with local non-profits to provide employment opportunities and training to people recovering from addiction or struggling with mental health issues.
We pay a living wage, promote from within, and strive to provide a positive work environment for our staff. We put a lot of time and effort in finding and purchasing local ingredients, goods, and services. And we are getting ready to undertake a green energy renovation with geo-thermal, solar-thermal, and photo-voltaic. We donate our space, our beer, our food, and our time to support organizations and non-profits that improve the quality of life in our community (like the Shadow Art Fair).
As one of our favorite staff-members liked to say “we work our asses off motherf@!#er” and I think your damnation of us is unfair. Fortunately for us, most of the people in this community know us well enough not to have judged us too harshly and continue to support us both personally and professionally (even if they do still give us a lot of grief).
For what it’s worth, I believe them. With the exception of this one race, they’ve got a great track record as far as progressive politics goes. I first became aware of Matt and Rene during the Dean campaign, and they worked their asses off for that man. I know that their decision to support Snyder doesn’t sit right with some people, and I get that, but I think that our energy is best spent elsewhere, like attacking the worst parts of the Snyder agenda, and cultivating our own Democratic leaders close to home. Attacking Matt and Rene, in my opinion, will only cause them to retreat from politics completely, at a time when we need their passion and energy more than ever. Instead of holding it against them that they supported someone that they had been led to believe was a moderate Republican, we should be encouraging them to redouble their efforts in Michigan politics, in hopes of putting up a better slate of Democratic candidates next time. They’re too valuable as allies in my opinion, to cast aside just because of one questionable endorsement. And, more importantly, they make damned good beer.
If you want to boycott a beer, boycott Corrs.