State Representative Jeff Irwin on the “frightened patriots” of the open carry movement, forest ecologist Ben Connor Barrie on local trees he’d love to kill, and Matt Siegfried on the racism of Rosie the Riveter… on episode 9 of The Saturday Six Pack

This is Michigan State Rep Jeff Irwin, my first guest on this past weekend’s episode of The Saturday Six Pack. Our interview, which started off with a weighty conversation on corporate money, gerrymandering, and tax policy, and how, together, they’ve nearly destroyed our state, ended on a significantly lighter note when a caller by the name of Gene phoned in to ask what the Representative meant when he said, “politicians in Lansing deserve a good rimming.” [For what it’s worth, Representative Irwin had said no such thing. The caller, who was listening to the show through his phone, had apparently misheard the word “ribbing.”]


The beverage in Jeff’s hand is Local’s American Lager by Shorts Brewing, which was the beer of choice for this episode of the The Saturday Six Pack. Somewhere toward the beginning of the show, if I’m not mistaken, we give it an enthusiastically positive review… although we had a few questions about the label, which depicts two driverless boats floating eerily on a lake.

[If you would like to listen to the episode in its entirety, you can find it on both Soundcloud and iTunes. Or, if you want, you can just scroll down to end of this post, where you’ll find it embedded.]

As Representative Irwin and I talked for a full hour, we covered a lot of ground. Here, however, are a few of the highlights…

Irwin and I discussed our chances of winning back the Michigan House in 2016 and reversing the disastrous social and fiscal policies of Governor Rick Snyder. We talked at length about the immediate need to increase resources for public education, reverse the misguided “trickle down” tax policies of Rick Snyder, decrease the burden on poor and middle class Michiganders, and bring sanity back to Lansing. [Presently, Democrats hold 47 of Michigan’s 110 House seats. We need to hold our 47 and pick up 9 in 2016 if we want to stop what’s been happening these past several years.]

Speaking of sanity, at some point later in the show, when I ask Irwin what, if anything, he can do to ensure that we don’t lose the right to carry loaded guns in schools, he responds by saying that, of the 42 bills passed this year by the legislature, 11 were laws intended to ease weapons regulations. You heard that right. Over 25% of the laws passed this year in Michigan weren’t about fixing our crumbling infrastructure, or increasing funding for students, but ensuring that we have the right to own more lethal weapons and carry them with us into more places. It’s one of many sobering facts shared by Irwin over the course of our conversation. Oh, and speaking of guns, my favorite quote from Representative Irwin came during a discussion about the folks who insist on walking around the State Capital in Lansing with weapons, just to demonstrate that they can. It’s hard to tell “a violent gunman from a frightened patriot,” he said. [I love the phrase “frightened patriot.” Let’s make t-shirts and hand them out to open carry folks when we see them.]

At some point early on, our friend Pete Larson called in from outside a dance hall in Kenya, where it was 2:00 AM, directing us to play a song that he’d just emailed in. And, once we found it, we did. In the song, Pete outlined everything that he saw as being wrong with Michigan today, from the broken roads to the war on public education. Representative Irwin was offered a guitar to respond in song, but just chose to say, “You’re right, Pete.” [I think this happens at about the 18-minute mark, for those of you who just tune in each week to hear Pete’s contribution from Kenya.]

Representative Irwin and I talked about his support of Proposition 1, which, if passed in May, will raise the sales tax in Michigan to fix our roads. He explained how he would have preferred to raise the gas tax, which hasn’t been raised in Michigan since ’98, but said that Proposition 1 would be better than the alternative, which would likely pull even more money from our schools and local governments. Representative Irwin didn’t like the idea that the legislature, lacking the courage to raise taxes themselves, punted it back to voters, but said that they’d added enough to the bill in other areas to make it palatable. Among other things, the bill, if passed, would put more money into schools and public transportation, and raise the Earned Income Tax Credit, putting money back into the pockets of non-wealthy Michiganders.

We talked about increasing transparency in charter schools, so that Michigan voters, who are currently handing over their hard-earned tax dollars to for-profit charters, could actually see how their money is being spent. [Michigan currently has the most deregulated charter program in the country, which is why we have more for-profit charters than any other state in the country. Not only do we have virtually no oversight of charters, but we don’t even require they tell us how much of the money that they’re given is actually spent of educating out children.]

As Representative Irwin will be term-limited out of office in 2016, we talked about arbitrary term limits, and how, in my opinion, it just gives groups like ALEC more power, as inexperienced legislators look to them for help. As Irwin points out, the State of Michigan is a $53 billion enterprise, which takes a considerable amount of time and experience to master. And, give that, term limits increase the power of lobbyists, who offer to come in with a team of consultants to help draft legislation on complicated issues and get these bills passed. [There doesn’t seem to be any movement to end term limits, by the way, as most voters, even though they typically say they like their own representatives, feel as though legislators are inept and crooked, and want them out of office.]

Here’s Representative Irwin telling us how he got his start in politics, when, as a 22 year old Political Science undergrad at UM, he decided to run for the Washtenaw Country Board of Commissioners.


We talked of areas where he’s been finding common ground with Tea Party Republicans, like on parole and sentencing reform, and with regard to legislation requiring body cameras for police officers. And we talked about the possibility of his getting support from Republicans for his most recent bill, which, if passed, would end daylight savings time in Michigan. [He seemed to think that it might resonate with them if he referred to daylight savings time as “the tyrany of federal time.”]

Oh, and he told us how daylight savings time was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin, who claimed that it would save tons of candle wax. This, he says, could have been a joke on Franklin’s part. [Irwin, for what it’s worth, makes a pretty good case against daylight savings time, which he says not only doesn’t save us any energy, but actually leads to increased traffic accidents and the like.]

The only regret that I have is that I didn’t realize when Irwin was still in the studio that one of the recorded pieces sent in by our man-on-the-street, Chris Sandon, was actually about him. If I’d known, I would have played it when he was in the studio. If you’re interested in hearing people coming out of Ypsi bars sharing their thoughts on Jeff Irwin, you’ll find it at the 1:22-minute mark. [Invariably, they all say that they were heartbroken when they’d heard that he’d been killed by a stingray.]

And that was just the first half of the show.

During the second half, our friend Brigid Mooney from the Wurst Bar brought in a young comedian by the name of Jordan Miller. In addition to telling us about being heckled by a four year old, Miller told us about his dream to one day break out of Ypsilanti and take the stage in the big city of Ann Arbor… Here’s Miller, explaining to us how he came to be living with Saturday Six Pack Music Director Jim Cherewick.


Then local historian Matt Siegfried dropped by at about the 1:14-mark to debut a segment we’re calling the Ypsilanti History Minute. In this first installment, he both celebrates the life of local janitor turned university president HP Jacobs and tarnishes the legacy of Rosie The Riveter, who he says fought to keep black workers out of the Willow Run bomber plant… Here’s Siegfried tearing down old heroes and replacing them with better ones.


And, after that, Ben Connor Barrie came in to confesses to a heinous crime, talk about trees, and give me the gift of lead pellet-filled deer flesh. [Our discussion begins at 1:26, with Ben explaining that he’s not an arborist, but a forest ecologist. An arborist, he says, cares for trees, while a forest ecologist just knows about them, but doesn’t help.] We talk about trees in town that he’d like to kill, the biggest tree-related issues facing Ypsilanti, and the fact that palm trees are not, in fact, trees. The highlight comes at 1:48, when we launch a new segment called Boot Talk… Here’s Ben, asking me about my boots.


Lastly, this was our first episode with a house band, and I think it went really well. It was great having Jim Cherewick on hand to introduce segments and contribute spontaneous songs about various things my guests and I happened to be talking about. Here’s Jim performing a song called Crawlspace, inspired by another interview conducted outside an Ypsilanti bar by Chris Sandon, during which a woman, after noting that she had a “sexual sickness,” discusses at 2:05 how she transmitted it to someone who made the mistake of not just going “downstairs” but into her “crawlspace.” [Chris Sandon, as always, was brought to us by a generous grant from the Facethruster Corporation.]


And, lastly, here I am at the end of the show, reflecting on the evening’s events with Jim, trying to decide where we should take the show in the future…

Speaking of ideas for the future, two have come to me as I’ve been writing this summary. First, I’d like to do more on-air song-writing late in shows, taking song ideas from people in the audience. And, second, I’d like to find a way to cook Ben’s deer meat live in the studio, and then eat it by caldle-light with a lucky listener.


Oh, and this was the episode where we all felt bad for our favorite Saturday Six Pack troll, The Who Guy, who, after a perfect setup, failed to execute due to a technical difficulty… Thankfully, he rebounded later.


[If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK?]

[note: All photos by AM 1700 staff photographer Kate de Fuccio.]

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  1. GK
    Posted March 16, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    · Great show. If Terry Gross and a Neck Beard had a baby, it would be the Saturday Six Pack.

    · Jeff Irwin for President. Was ambivalent, now love. He was awesome.

    · The recorded what-do-you-think-jeff-irwin segments were hilarious. I miss Steve Irwin as well. You should try to get Bindi to call in.

    · Peter Larson’s song had me crying with laughter. It’s my new anthem, a total “Michigan, WTF?!”

    · Be nice to trees. We will be dead without them. I look forward to extensive tree conversation in 2 weeks.

  2. XXX
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I was listening to Thayrone on AM 1600 last night and he was going off on Prop 1, ordering his listeners not to support it. Between Irwin’s endorsement and Thayrone’s screaming, I’ve made up my mind on the issue.

  3. Posted March 17, 2015 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    My comments about Rosie was directed at the white Rosie’s at Willow Run in general and not at Rose Monroe in particular. Though she herself may very well have participated in racist protests against the hiring of black women, I don’t know. What we do know is that there were many such protests at Willow Run, both in the factory and in housing. In fact, Ford insisted that the reason he couldn’t hire black women at Willow Run was because he had consulted the white women there in mass employee meetings and they were adamantly opposed. The first time Ford ever to into account the wishes of his workers, apparently.

    There are many myths of Willow Run; newspaper articles from the time portrayed it as a disaster, with serials in papers like the Chicago Tribune titled “The Truth About Ford’s Willow Run”. The most technologically advanced factory in the world, worked in by people living in shacks without running water, etc.

    And, never mentioned in the history is the fact that here, in the “Arsenal of Democracy”, the 4th of July was not celebrated during most of World War Two in Ypsilanti because of racial tension. That says as much as anything about the myth and the reality in my mind.

  4. Eel
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Boot Talk and Wallet Talk should both be spun off as their own shows.

  5. Lynne
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I particularly liked the segment about Willow Run history. I never knew about the racial issues there. It was honestly the first time I have ever heard anyone talk about it.

    I also liked Peter’s song.

    It was nice to have Jeff Irwin talk about things. I have been very opposed to raising the sales tax but because of some of the things he said, I am more open to learning more about this proposal. Not sure if I’ll be able to stomach voting for such a regressive tax though. We’ll see.

  6. idea man
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Do you have a kitchen in the studio? If not, will you be serving the dear meat raw?

  7. Lynne
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Oh and as much as I appreciated listening to Jeff Irwin, I have to wonder if maybe it would be worth inviting David Rutledge, seeing as how he is Ypsilanti’s rep.

    As for politicians, another one who is very interesting is Washtenaw County clerk, Larry Kestenbaum. Get him talking and you wont regret it. :)

  8. Jeff Irwin
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the great opportunity. I hope the interview is as fun to listen to as it was to record. Maybe you’ll have me on again to clear up all the mistakes I made.

  9. Going Down
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    If you love the Saturday Six Pack and live in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Chapel Hill, Athens, Cincinnati or some place in North Carolina called Marshall, you can meet Jim Cherewick and Chris Sandon person over the next week. Click here for details.

  10. Posted March 17, 2015 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    What a good looking group! I love that Jeff does shit around town. I was at work (western Wayne county) and mentioned that I knew my state rep…and crickets. People looked at me like this was unusual and then I remember that it is unusual! We are lucky to have him!

  11. K2
    Posted March 17, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    More politicians taking calls about rim jobs, please.

  12. idea man
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    You need to book Jim Webb on boot talk.

  13. anonym
    Posted March 20, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Mark, you should have “idea man” on your show… ; )

  14. JXNAnarchist
    Posted March 21, 2015 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    This is maybe even better than the puppet show.

  15. wobblie
    Posted March 22, 2015 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Teach in the week

  16. Jeff Irwin by Proxy
    Posted April 14, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Today, in Michigan’s House Judiciary committee will are considering a bill to prevent gun safety rules. SB 85 would prohibit local governments from adopting regulations on air or pneumatic powered guns. For instance, this bill would prevent a local community from requiring that “toy” guns have orange tips to help prevent law enforcement or vigilante’s from mistaking these weapons for real guns.

    Here is just one recent incident that brings home why gun safety rules are important:

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] program promises to be eventful. Remember the illegally-butchered deer we discussed during the last show? Well, its owner (Ben Connor Barrie) and I will be cooking it on the show this weekend and handing […]

  2. […] law once and for all, but I’m sure that we’ll also be picking up where we left off last time on things like guns in schools, the conditions of our roads, education spending, and the […]

  3. […] [This was Irwin’s second visit to the Saturday Six Pack. If you’re curious, his first visit, where we discussed open carry in our schools and the conditions of Michigan’s roads, among other things, can be heard here.] […]

  4. […] been a guest a few times on my Saturday Six Pack show. This photo was taken during his first visit, when we discussed open carry in our schools and the conditions of Michigan’s roads, among othe…. Photo courtesy Kate de […]

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