Jack Lessenberry to visit Ypsilanti and answer the question, “What does right-to-work mean for Michigan?”

Tomorrow evening, at Ypsilanti’s Corner Brewery, celebrated Detroit journalist Jack Lessenberry will be hosting a panel discussion on Michigan’s newly passed anti-union (“right-to-work”) legislation, and how it will likely impact working Michiganders, their employers, and the financial prospects of the state. There’s scant information available online, but a friend who works for Michigan Radio tells me that, in addition to other folks, who haven’t yet committed, Lessenberry will be joined by F. Vincent Vernuccio, the Director of Labor Policy at The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and Kristin Dziczek, the Director of the Labor & Industry Group at the Center for Automotive Research. (Hopefully Lessenberry arranges for someone from organized labor to be there as well, to offset the presence of the representative of the Mackinac Center.)

To get a sense of what Lessenberry is likely to say, here’s audio of him speaking in December with Detroit News reporter Daniel Howes about the historic context of the bill, just as it was being pushed through the Michigan legislature.

For what it’s worth, I don’t buy the narrative that Lessenberry is pushing about how the unions, by attempting to pass Proposition 2, had forced Snyder to get behind the lame duck push for right-to-work. I can certainly see why Snyder would like for people to think that, but I believe RNC Finance Chair Ron Weiser when he says that right-to-work was on the agenda from the beginning. Still, though, I appreciate Lessenberry’s mater-of-fact historical take on all of this. As someone who’s inclined to have his outlook clouded by righteous indignation, I find it necessary, on occasion, to listen to people who can keep their cool, and focus on facts.

[note: A shorter, more recent audio piece by Lessenberry on the historical context of right-to-work in Michigan can be found here.]

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  1. anonymous
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Countdown to Greff Bashing….. 3, 2, 1…..

  2. Posted January 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely agree that it was on his agenda since the start. I’m so tired of progressive folks thinking that Snyder is decent and moderate. He’s not a good person, he’s not a moderate, he lied his pasty cracker ass off about being a moderate and he only cares about his rich buddies. To think he is anything else* is short-sighted and pitiful at best and dangerous at worst.

    *Well, he’s other things but I will try to be mature (!) and not devolve into name calling.

  3. Eel
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it happens at the same time, but there’s also going to be speed dating at the Corner.


  4. M.
    Posted January 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    For those that don’t get the reference, Anonymous is alluding to the fact that the owners of the Corner Brewery, Matt and Rene Greff, have been vocal Snyder supporters, in spite of the fact that they consider themselves to be good, progressive Democrats. If they’re around tomorrow, I imagine things might get interesting.

  5. Kristin
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I hope people don’t waste time going after the Greffs for that. We were knee-deep in progressives who thought that Snyder was the best choice given the field and the electorate. Those same people are sorry they suppoprted him now, and I hope they hold the Dems accountable for not presenting an electable candidate. Something that may well happen again, by the way, unless someone we aren’t aware of shows up to save the day. Please don’t think that Snyder’s controversial decisions are going to put him out of office without a viable alternative. He’s very good at distancing himself from controversy. Even the Pure Michigan stuff. He couldn’t get away from that fast enough, but I doubt he would have thought twice about it if it hadn’t become an issue. I don’t think the unions forced Snyder’s hand on Prop 2, either. That is another b*llsh#tty way for him to act like a right wing dream coming true had nothing to do with him. Because he is moderate, you know. And business.

  6. Dave French
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Speed dating too, huh? I hope Snyder is there. Then he and the Mackinac Center can go f*** themselves.

  7. Mr. Y
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    In Snyder’s defense, his dirty pillows are spectacular.

  8. Meta
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    The other two panelists have been named:

    Gretchen Driskell — State Representative for Michigan’s 52nd District
    John J.H. “Joe” Schwarz — Former Michigan Congressman

    As someone at AnnArbor.com points out, however, none of them are very liberal.

    Alan Goldsmith
    3:08 PM on 1/15/2013

    The owners of this bar donated thousands to Rick Snyder’s campaign, as did democrat Gretchen Driskell, and ex-member of Congress Joe Schwarz, a good man, helped with the con game of convincing voters Snyder was a ‘moderate’. And The Mackinac Center for Public Policy are funded by the right wing creeps the Koch Brothers. And the Center for Automotive Research is funded by large corporations and the automobile industry. So Driskell is the ‘libera’l here? Pathetic.

  9. anon
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    let’s all turn out and guide the conversation toward truth.

  10. Posted January 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    What time is this happening? This post is pretty useless without a date and a time.

  11. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    The Michigan Media site has some sort of freaky non-highlighted link to the actual event page:

    Meta, while I agree that the billions of dollars brought to our area by “large corporations and the automobile industry” are a reason for jail time (if not hangings), I’m still willing to hear what the Center for Automotive Research has to say – you know, last words and all.

  12. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that was colossal waste of time. Basically, a Democrud clappy-clap rally where the Republicants sent a child to do their dirty work.

  13. Posted January 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Curt, I figured it would be (a waste of time). I went to a Lessenberry thing at the Wolverine on the issue of education and I found that to be a waste. I never liked him but liked him even less after that event. My biggest complaint was that there was no call to action…just a bunch of people bitching about education (no one blamed teachers or anything…it was more about standardized tests and such).

  14. Greg Pratt
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if I count as a “Greff Basher” (ooo my next band name: The Greff Bashers)
    but their explanation is convoluted BS:


    I think the Greffs, instead of trying to weasel their way out of responsibility, should ADMIT to getting on the Snyder gravy train so they can help guide policy in favor of their alcohol distribution operation.

    Let me be perfectly clear here: I am not against them greasing the wheel and getting an appointment [Hmmm well actually….nevermind].

    I would simply prefer that they at least be up-front about it, rather than conduct a clumsy-yet-elborate linguistic dance around it.

    ALSO I expect them to be perfectly clear who they support next time around. That is, if they have now decided which side they are on.

    We must unite to put these hedge fund carpetbaggers out of office. And perhaps some community healing could take place if the Greffs simply came clean.

  15. Greg Pratt
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Kristin – what is the evidence you have that we were “knee deep” in progressive support for Snyder?

  16. Oliva
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    I’m not the only voter who thinks Bernero really might have been a strong governor for these times–or maybe I am. It’s possible that the mayor of Lansing was an excellent candidate at a very unfortunate moment, when a substantial enough group of voters in the state were tired, angry, scared, willing to go with appearances–Snyder cagily stood off to the side from the more flagrant Tea Partiers, wearing his fancy wool coats (I know I always mention the wool coats) and pretending to be measured. And Virg Bernero was cast as an unstable, too-heated rough guy–remember Snyder, cast as the mild-mannered “grown-up,” even got points for refusing to debate Bernero? In truth Bernero has shown that he’s very smart, able, articulate, and passionately committed to labor. To me it was almost all about appearances, and we not only got conned but gave the state away (temporarily gave the state away!). Anger and apathy and a willingness to be conned–miserable brew . . . The lesson’s been harsh and vulgar, but at least we showed ourselves it’s essential to show up and vote in 2014–and may we have a strong candidate who not only runs well and is true (as true as a politician can be, or close) but who also ends up leading well (undoing miles of damage, etc.).

  17. Bob
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Bernaro got unfairly bashed by Dems and the local media. Greg is right on the “knee deep” question. That’s a load of shit. We might as well be promoting upcoming events at the Corner Brewery.


  18. kjc
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Oliva, I don’t know what kind of governor he would have been, but you’re not the only one who backed Bernero. I was annoyed at the time by all the arguments that he was unelectable. What made him unelectable was not voting for him.

  19. Kristin
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Of course people backed Bernero, but there were plenty of pragmatic Dems who thought that he could not get elected in the political climate of the time, and that the least distasteful Republican was Snyder. People who comment on this site thought that. What is my basis for saying that? Pure anecdote, so you can take it for an outlier if you like. Or just call it a “load of shit,” because that’s so smart. But we really have two topics here. One is whether or not a progressive should ever throw money behind a Republican, and the other whether or not Bernero was ever going to get elected. I didn’t think he had a snowball’s chance of winning, so I didn’t put a lot of thought into his potential governance.

  20. Lynne
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Bernero simply didn’t have the charisma to win the election. Even now, I cannot picture what he looks like. I barely remember his name. I voted for him but he did not run a good campaign. I hope the Dems can nominate someone with a little more ability to work the system. It sucks that in this age of sound bites and TV and internet media that some qualified people get overlooked but there is no changing that.

  21. anon
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    “One is whether or not a progressive should ever throw money behind a Republican . . .”

    and you’re not, in all seriousness, expecting us to answer that.

    as for democrat gubernatorial electability, how about we start with talking about how the party in michigan is impotent, ineffective, currently irrelevant.

  22. Mr. Y
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    “How about we start with talking about how the party in michigan is impotent, ineffective, currently irrelevant?”

    I can agreed with you on that.

    I don’t think, however, that any good can come of complaining about our fellow Democrats who backed Snyder. It’s not productive. It’s a distraction. If anything we should be pulling them back into the fold. We can’t afford to lose their votes, and their money. Sure, tell them that they better not campaign for Snyder next time, but then move on. We need to focus on finding the candidate to replace him, not on organizing witch hunts.

  23. anon
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    yeah i’m not into witchhunts. the greffs, like many other entrepreneurs, are interested in growing $. what i mean is that it isn’t about ‘how to choose a great dem to run for governor,’ because there aren’t any. even the folks alot of you love (o’brien, warren, etc.) are careerist moderates.

    no, for my $, we get busy at the grassroots level. let the juice trickle up, as it always has.

  24. kjc
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    careerist moderates. i think “pragmatic Dems” is just another way of saying “people who think like assholes”. but that’s just me.

    “Bernero simply didn’t have the charisma to win the election.”

    unlike his opponent??? Bernero didn’t have the support. Snyder did. from pragmatics or assholes or whatever you wanna call them. i for one do am a progressive who does not give my money to Republicans. i think it’s pathetic.

  25. Greg Pratt
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see a varied conversation here in the tone and opinions. Very healthy.

    BTW Kristin: while I am glad to see Bob back me up with his “load of shit” comment, let me again emphasize that the statement issued by the Greffs is “convoluted BS.”

    Whether that is a smart thing to say or not is irrelevant – at least to me :)

    Have a nice day and keep thinking, deep thinking. Because we have a lot of planning to do together.

  26. Watching Ypsi
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Please,,, come on. This is so fake, a couple families own everything and pit all of us against each other. Wake up, it’s that simple. We’re just spinning in circles for decades, even centuries. It’s so obvious.

  27. Greg Pratt
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to ask those who **say** they support working families, LGBT community etc, to admit they were wrong by **actually** supporting the other team last time around. And emphasize that it will not happen again – period.

    “Wake up, it’s that simple.”

    Nope, sorry it is not as “simple.” Solidarity is tough. I think we can get there, but it will take some movement from people whom perhaps we should not be “pitted against.”

    I find it frustrating the knee-jerk/ “just get over it and stop fighting amongst ourselves” folks who want us to forget. I can forgive, but I need some sugar. Come clean.

    Also, Mark wrote about this many months ago: http://markmaynard.com/2011/05/rene-greff-on-her-support-of-rick-snyder-for-governor/

    I largely agree with his take located at the link above.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] blames term limits and the unprecedented influence of corporate moneyBy Mark | January 22, 2013As we recently discussed, Michigan Radio, as part of their Issues & Ale series, hosted a panel discussion in Ypsilanti […]

  2. […] blames term limits and the unprecedented influence of corporate moneyBy Mark | January 22, 2013As we recently discussed, Michigan Radio, as part of their Issues & Ale series, hosted a panel discussion in Ypsilanti […]

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