Nothing says you care about the people of Flint like hosting an opulent party for your friends in downtown Ann Arbor behind blacked out windows


I got word this past weekend that there was a secret party taking place in downtown Ann Arbor, a posh event inside an upscale restaurant. The windows of the restaurant, I was told, had been “blacked out,” and there was security outside. The man who had rented it out, according to the person who first reached out to me, was apparently a wealthy politician who wanted to celebrate his wife’s birthday in private, far away from the prying eyes of his constituents, who were, at the very same moment, assembled on Main Street, demanding that he take immediate action to help the people of Flint.

As is generally the case these days, it didn’t take too long for word about what had taken place inside this lavish party to leak out. Within a few days, I’d be hearing about the ostentatious decorations, the banners, and the birthday cake, which, if you can believe it, was made to look like a diamond necklace draped over a Nordstrom’s box.


[Since I first posted this story, images like the one above, showing the cake in question, have surfaced.]

As I wasn’t there to see it myself, firsthand, I won’t name names. So you’ll just have to guess who the wealthy politician was.

I debated publishing this. People, after all, deserve their private lives, and no one can, or should, work around the clock. And, God knows, if people were outside my home, protesting day and night, and making my wife miserable, the last thing I’d probably want to do is cancel her birthday party.

Had I been in a similar situation, though, I’m relatively certain that I would have forgone a party, asking friends instead to give money to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund. “You know what,” I’d probably say, “as much as I love my wife, I just don’t think that we should be getting drunk and dancing around a big, creamy-frosting-filled Nordstrom’s box right now.” But, then again, I have a little bit of my soul left. And, perhaps more importantly, I’m not so delusional as to think that something like this wouldn’t get out.

Ann Arbor is just too small of a town to keep secrets like this… A few days ago, when Governor Snyder was heckled at Old Town Tavern for his role in the poisoning of Flint, I heard about it almost immediately from four different people, all of whom were there at the time, in the room with him. Things like this aren’t easily hidden. Caterers, bartenders, and delivery people all have cell phones, and they’re not stupid people. They know what happened in Flint, and, when they see our elected representatives throwing big, secret parties behind covered windows, instead of cooperating with investigators, or on the ground in Flint, talking with the parents of children with lead poisoning, you can be sure they’re going to talk.

You don’t have to hire two different PR firms to know that, just days after promising to focus all of your attention on solving the problems that you helped to create in Flint, you shouldn’t try to pull off a secret party as though nothing has changed.

But our elected officials clearly don’t care about us. We aren’t really people in their eyes. We’re problems to be managed while they push their agendas forward. If we’re not helping them, we’re just obstacles to be maneuvered around.

In the whole scheme of things, having a party behind covered windows with a bunch of rich folks, eating expensive cake while poor people suffer, probably isn’t that big of a deal. Compared with lying about water quality, and encouraging people to keep drinking poison, it’s really inconsequential. I think, however, it illustrates just how little the people we elect to look after our interests here in Michigan really care about us. While they may give a good speech or two, vowing to work diligently and make things right, all they really care about is moving the needle on public opinion enough so that they can keep going, doing exactly what they were doing before.

I like to think, if I had just played a pivotal role in one of the biggest public poisonings in our nation’s history, I might be a little more conscious of my actions and how they might come across to those who either lost family members to Legionnaires’ disease, or will likely spend their entire lives worrying about their children’s health and how their futures will be affected by lead poisoning. To have such a party, given the context of what’s going on in Flint, not only demonstrates a complete lack of decency, but also levels of stupidity and contempt that are truly breathtaking.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 1.05.51 PMAnd, before you start writing your irate comments, no, I don’t begrudge this politician’s wife her expensive cake. I just think this demonstrates yet once again the contempt this administration has for the people of Michigan. To think that they can continue on, as though nothing has changed, is absolutely insane to me. In an ideal world, a leader confronted by a situation like this would have immediately moved his/her office to Flint, and would have made sure people knew he/she was fighting every day, from sun up to sun down, to get water trucks on every corner and medical care for every man, woman and child. A decent leader would have gone on every news channel available to them, and demanded that the President come to Flint, and see firsthand what these people are dealing with. A decent leader wouldn’t be at a hidden party in Ann Arbor, counting on the people of America to send individual bottles of clean water to the people of Flint. And I sure as hell don’t think a good, responsible leader would have told people as late as December that the water of Flint was likely safe to drink, knowing full well that it wasn’t, or deny that there was a link between the Flint River and Legionnaires’ disease for an entire year, when they’d known since last March that they were linked.

All of that aside, one hopes this big, lavish party was as fun as hell for all involved… as it may be the last one some of these folks see for a long, long time.

update: OK things have apparently taken off a bit since I posted this last night. Most notably, my friend Amber Fellows did some detective work, searching through the social media accounts of local cake shops, and found the above photo. Then, having seen that, the folks at MLive called up the cake shop in question and began asking questions. Heather Anne Leavitt, who made the cake, told them that she had no idea who the cake was for. “I had no idea, like seriously no idea,” she told them. “We delivered it to the West End Grill and put it down and I’m taking photos of the cake. Then Claudia, who was also working on the cake with me, looks up and sees Rick Snyder on all the photos in the room, and so we put two and two together. We knew that renting out West End Grill is not a cheap thing to do on a Saturday night, but we have a lot of high end clients. We just didn’t know this one was the Governor.” So, yes, it’s now public knowledge that party in question was thrown by Rick Snyder for the First Lady of Michigan, and that it was held at the West End Grill…. Drip, drip, drip… Little by little, ike dirty water from a tap in Flint, the truth keeps coming out.

update: OK, the story has now gone global thanks to the folks at Wonkette. Here’s how it begins.

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 8.52.50 AMSo let’s say you’re the governor of a state where a city of 100,000 souls has been in the news because you poisoned the water, and where roughly 9,000 children have been exposed to lead, a neurotoxin for which there is no safe level at all. Let us say further that it’s becoming increasingly clear that your administration caused the disaster through a combination of criminal ineptitude and malignant neglect. While we’re at it, let’s say that the people who have been poisoned are for the most part poor and black, while you, the state’s governor, are rich and white. You know what professional public relations firms (which in your case you have got — two of ’em, in fact) would probably suggest you not do? Throw a lavish birthday party for your wife with a custom-made birthday cake made to look like packages from Chanel, Tiffany, and Nordstrom, draped with a jeweled necklace, with a fancy-schmancy Michael Kors handbag, also made of cake. Just an idea.

And yet that appears to be exactly how Rick Snyder, the Republican governor of Michigan, celebrated his wife Sue’s birthday at a pricey restaurant last Saturday. Michigan blogger Mark Maynard has some of the details of the alleged goings-on, which we will very responsibly note come from unnamed sources (who were dead on in describing the cake). Maynard doesn’t name the restaurant, but Mlive’s Jessica Webster confirms it was one of the Snyders’ favorite restaurants, Ann Arbor’s West End Grill; its windows were reportedly blacked out so that the commoners wouldn’t see what their betters were getting up to in there…

update: Susan Fecteau keeps the cake meme going on Ann Arbor.


update: Now Gawker has the story as well. Here’s their big takeaway.

Sometimes urban crises are accidents. Sometimes they’re caused by gross incompetence. And sometimes they’re the result of neglect that borders on malice, a true disdain for a group of people who live somewhere else. A wealthy white man feeding a Michael Kors-themed cake to his wealthy white wife while poor black people 50 miles away have to wait in lines for clean water deliveries makes it a little clearer which kind of crisis we’re dealing with here.

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  1. A2Squirrels4Eva
    Posted February 4, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Welp… his resignation just got called for during the debate. Probably not too many parties in his near future.

  2. Eel
    Posted February 4, 2016 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    They just want you to think that it was a party. They were really gathering to count their Nestle stock.

  3. Demetrius
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    “Let them eat cake … made to look like a diamond necklace draped over a Nordstrom’s bag.”

  4. Peter Larson
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Some people are strongly in agreement with one another.

  5. John Galt
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Our First Lady deserves her special day. The sick children of Flint have no right to take that away from her.

  6. Prisoner 8556321
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    I, for one, am looking forward to meeting him and getting a glance at his missus during conjugal visits.

  7. Shane Davis
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    A touching story of love.

  8. Ted McClelland
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    He can’t go out in public anymore.

  9. jcp2
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Well, clearly more than half of the Michigan populace disagrees with your statement that the Governor does not represent the people of the state. Twice.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    You’re just mad because Rene Greff didn’t take you along as her ‘plus one’.

  11. Tori
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    How awesome would it be if the restaurant donated to profits of the event to Flint.

  12. Denise Heberle
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    So was this AFTER he hired 2 PR firms? Or was this the catalyst – the moment he realized that his own moral compass is so off that he can’t count on himself to recognize such ugly looking, un-spinnable behavior?

  13. Susan Fecteau
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    This is exactly why we need to step up our efforts to make him “uncomfortable” wherever and whenever we can.


  14. Bob
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    As much as I’m annoyed by so much of what you post, and Peter Larsons misanthropic punch bowl pissing, your stuff on Snyder has been excellent. Thanks for these reports. This should be covered by the national news. I think it really is relevant. Fuck his wife and the entire Snyder family.

  15. Ted McClelland
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    He’s donating a case of Evian water to Flint.

  16. site admin
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink


    It was reported that Snyder hired two PR firms on January 22. (See link below.) The event in question took place on Saturday, January 30.

  17. Meta
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Snyder is in Flint this morning and the meeting is being streamed.

    Gov. Snyder will speak at this morning’s meeting of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee.

    His remarks come after revelations that one of his top aides knew about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint and its possible links to the Flint River, almost a year before Snyder says he found out about it.

    The aide was Harvey Hollins who Snyder just picked to lead the state’s response team in Flint.

    Read more:

  18. Jay Steichmann
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    As someone who worked a corporate job for a long time and “partied” with a fair number of openly GOP people, I can say that while they do consume mass quantities, often ostentatiously, and yes, they do get drunk, I wold be hard pressed to say that they actually enjoy themselves. They seem to be inordinately preoccupied with other people taking their stuff.

    Whereas, I might miss some stuff if I were cleaned out, it wouldn’t amount to to much and I sure don’t spend any time worrying about it.

  19. Denise Heberle
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the chronology. You are a researcher and a gentleman. I couldn’t bring myself to look it up. #lazyhater

  20. Jean Henry
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Pete Larson is a ‘misanthropic punch bowl pisser.” Excellent.
    It would seem no one likes having their partisan parties ruined by naysayers.

    Making fun of the follies of the rich is good sport. There should be more of it.

    Someone should have snuck Pete into that party.

  21. anonymous
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    And the evidence emerges….

  22. anonymous
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink


  23. Elizabeth H.
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Mark, you’re the best. Thank you. Keeping the pressure on our deplorable governor.

  24. Bee Roll
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Is it crass of me that I’m disappointed that the cake maker and restaurant accommodated these requests?

  25. Susan Fecteau
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I am so not into causing any problems for our local businesses. It’s hard enough to get people to shop downtown. Restaurants have a hard time staying afloat sometimes. HOWEVER I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with people speaking their minds,even loudly, whenever they see him at our establishments. I have no trouble with him feeling uncomfortable wherever he goes.

  26. Lynne
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I am no PR person but it seems to me that if he really wanted to give the illusion that he cares, throwing a party like this isn’t the right thing to do. What should he do? He should rent an apartment in Flint and move there temporarily until the water situation is resolved. He should start demanding that the pipes get fixed! And maybe not nickle and dime the residents about their water bills and just write off 100%. But you know, it is really hard to pretend that you care when you don’t.

  27. jcp2
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink


    I think the bakery and the restaurant are in a difficult place. Turning down the governor’s business would risk alienating many current and potential clients, while accepting it would risk alienating many current and potential clients. I guess the calculation would involve the lesser of the two risks.

  28. A2Squirrels4Eva
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    The amount of work and money that went into this event suggest that it was planned and, at least partially, paid for far in advance. Its probable that much of that work was carried out prior to the big break in the news about Flint.

    I would not fault the restaurant, or any of the caterers… likely an event like this was a bit of a windfall for them.

  29. Anonymous
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Heather Anne probably didn’t know it was for the Governor. And, even if she did, I don’t think it’s a big deal. A person has to make a living, and if only did business with people that we respected, we’d all starve. The owner of the restaurant, though, is a Snyder supporter and friend. He’s a different story.

  30. Alec Gibbs
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    If he had poisoned your kids, lied about it and tried to cover it up, I don’t think that you would care all that much that he has a hard time dealing with an understandably unhappy public. He belongs in a cage.

  31. John Galt
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    In the governor’s defense, he is trying to get the people of Flint a discount on their poison water.

  32. MC
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Just think how sad it is if someone’s like “what does your wife like? does she have any passions? interests? hobbies?” “oh! she likes shopping for expensive shit! that’s what really says ‘her’, you know?”

  33. Jen Eyer
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Hey folks – Here’s the story behind the cake:

  34. Rat
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    You could have at least credited Mark, Jen.

  35. Posted February 5, 2016 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t need credit, Rat. I don’t care. I’m just happy that they found a creative way to push the story out to a wider audience. But, yeah, it got them a ton of clicks in the process. According to their site, as of right now, they have 3,100 shares and 1,163 comments. That’s good for business. So, yeah, that part is weird… knowing that I broke a story that’s making them money. But that’s not what matters. What matters is keeping the pressure on the administration. I want them to know that people are watching. We owe it to the people of Flint to keep doing out part.

  36. Demetrius
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I’m sure you’ve already seen this by now, but your latest Snyder post has been picked up by Wonkette:

  37. Posted February 6, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Cannot describe effectively with words the downright callous nature of this Governor, Rick Snyder in light of the plight of suffering in Flint, Michigan. This cake, the secret party and everything surrounding it – displays a nature of cognitive dissonance towards the People of Michigan who are not Rich, His Friends or His Wife that is completely unbecoming of anyone who should be allowed to hold Michigan highest Elected Office of Governor.

    Beyond the pale and totally unbelievable at the same time, Rick Snyder goes down in Michigan’s proud history since 1837 as the worst so-called leader and Governor this State has ever had.

    Rick Snyder must go. NOW! It is high time for the People of Michigan to demand JUST THIS.

  38. Tony
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Blacking out the windows demonstrates that he knew how tone deaf it would look but didn’t give a damn so went on with it anyway.

  39. Posted February 6, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Hoping for thousands at the weekly protest at Rick’s condo, 211 S. Main, A2.
    Every Wed. 5:30pm. Bring friends and a sign if possible. Spread the word.

  40. Frank Rossman
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    “Team Snyder takes Legal action against Facebook commenter”

    I don’t see an Actionable Threat from Mr. Wahmhoff. “”I have my torch”” is a centuries old meme on Civil Discontent with the actions of Leadership.

    Wahmhoff wrote: “”so when ya’ll are ready to march in and take his ass accross (sic) the street ,, I have my torch, I got warm socks.. I’m waitin on ya’ll..””

    This is a targeted attack against an at-risk Michigan Citizen by an embattled Snyder Administration. Team Snyder thinks to make an example of Mr. Wahmhoff, all they are doing is creating a martyr of a man who defended the Environment and has now been deemed, “”uppity””.

    I will be presenting this issue to the Rev Dr. Deane Oliva of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Flint as well as to Randy Block of the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network. Mr. Wahmhoff is not alone….

    “”Then it don’t matter. I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too.””

    Please sign the Petition to establish April 25th as a State of Michigan “Day of Remembrance” for the Flint Water Crisis. On April 25th 2014 the Snyder Administration switched Flint from treated Detroit water to corrosive Flint River water. Anyone in the World can, and should sign this petition, its a Human Rights issue.

  41. TheoLib
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Someone else who came here from Wonkette. Great post and I’m digging into the other interesting posts on your blog. (Like the pictures of you molting on your radio show!)

  42. suswhit
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all you do, Mark Maynard.

  43. suswhit
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Also, I’m enjoying imagining the cake I’d get when my husband said, “I don’t know. She likes going to thrift stores. And rescue dogs.”

  44. Marcia Perry
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

  45. Brett
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    What should he do? I’m betting that close to 80% of you have bitched about his actions over Flint, but haven’t done shit to help out. Armchair politicians are idiots. Always ready to complain, but your actions speak louder than your words.

  46. Kris Henderson
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I guess our governor is not allowed to have any personal time ……the hatred here is amazing. Just a reminder that our previous governor took personal time…..and oh yeah….she knew about the lead issue during her time as our states leader….but I guess she gets a free pass.

  47. Lynne
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    No one gets a free pass and we absolutely should look into how previous governor’s policies have contributed to this tragedy. But there is a HUGE difference between a term limited governor knowing that the infrastructure is aging and a governor whose negligence led to an entire being poisoned.

  48. Peter Larson
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    I don’t like Snyder and am very concerned about the Flint water crisis and I get that people are angry, but I don’t see how this is news.

    Maybe it’s just me.

  49. Strepsi
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    @Lynne – it’s far far worse than neglect, it was aggressive action: he rigged the system against the will of a vote taken by his citizens, to ensure they could NOT get clean water! By all appearances he is an accessory to murder, and I hope he faces criminal charges.

    @Kris Henderson: No, someone who poisoned thousands of children and is still governor does not get personal time. Idiot.

  50. Demetrius
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    @ Peter

    I know you’re a smart guy … so I’m not really buying that you don’t understand how/why this is news.

    On one hand: A billionaire whose extreme hard-right ideology led directly to the poisoning of thousands of residents (and life-long disability for many children) in a largely poor, and overwhelmingly minority community – that is literally a *symbol* of American post-industrial decline and growing income inequality – followed by not only a failure to take responsibility, but a likely criminal cover-up.

    On the other hand: This same billionaire is so out of touch with the everyday reality of the millions of people he is supposed to represent that he decides to take over a local restaurant to host a birthday party for his wife; blacks out the windows to shield the event from the press and prying eyes; and pays for a centerpiece – a cake – that cost hundreds (thousands?) of dollars – and is made to resemble totems of some of the most iconic emblems of extreme privilege in our society, “Chanel,” “Nordstroms,” “Michael Kors,” etc.

    Peter, are you trying to tell us you really don’t understand the extreme juxtaposition going on here, and how it might be “news?”

    Honestly, this represents Marie Antoinette/French Revolution-level hubris and delusion among someone who only months ago was being talked about as a possible presidential contender … so I’m not at all surprised this has made local, state, and even international news.

    At this point, I think the only things left to find out is who (among Snyder and his cronies) actually ends up going to jail … and who will play Snyder and his wife in the “ripped from the headlines” TV movie.

  51. Bob
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    It’s definitely just you.

  52. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I really appreciate Mark’s many articles covering the Flint water crisis. I do think the reactions to a person’s drink at a bar, a birthday party, and a birthday cake have been interesting. I, like Peter, don’t see how the birthday party or the cake, especially the cake, is news. It is a form of gossip. It should be news that it somehow is believed to be news by otherwise smart people.

    My theory is that the cake is news because people feel guilty–because there is an extreme disconnect between their actual lifestyle and their rhetoric, which paints themselves as adherents to idealistic principles of justice/equality. Deep down most of the commenters here know they are the beneficiaries of injustice. Relative to the billions of people in the world, who make less than $5k per year annually, and who can only dream of shelter, food, education and healthcare, we are all cold hearted careless fancy cake eaters. Snyder is offering some of us an escape for our guilt.

  53. DD
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Frosted Flakes

    Best comment ever! Cold hearted, careless fancy cake eaters indeed! Yes we are, with absolutely no concept of what goes on outside of our own fancy cake filled lives. Spot on!

  54. Demetrius
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink


    There’s no question that most middle-class people living in North America have it much better than the bulk of people worldwide, who are living in poverty.

    Still, that’s not the same thing as calling out the decadent, oblivious consumption of a billionaire plutocrat who is literally (not figuratively) responsible for poisoning thousands of people.

    Snyder is not some ordinary, private person hosting a birthday party for his wife. He is public figure. He spent millions of dollars running for governor, and was twice elected leader of this state. He has enormous power and influence over the lives of millions of people.

    For people to claim that it’s unfair, impolite, or an invasion of privacy to call attention to this extreme behavior seems to be a strange kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” in which questioning the motives and actions of wealthy, powerful (and very public) individuals seems to make some people uncomfortable.

  55. Taco Farts
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Brett, Kris, welcome! Are you both from the same PR firm or are the firms as bad at communicating with each other as everyone Snyder ever hired seems to be at communicating with him? I’d hate to see all that private money wasted on redundant astroturfing!

  56. Frosted Flakes
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 8:42 pm | Permalink


    I hope those found guilty of negligence, or worse, go to jail, or worse.

    Ironically, I was thinking about Stockholm syndrome when I wrote my last comment. I was thinking: Idealism rescues the self from the uncomfortable judgment of one’s own conscience in the same way that affection for one’s captor rescues the hostage from the horror of being imprisoned. The hostage accomplishes the goal of increased comfort by identifying with the values of his kidnapper so the kidnapper feels less threatening. Likewise, the self identifies with,and gives empty sermons about, the idealized values of the conscience (justice and equality) in order to sidestep the discomfort of the judging conscience.

    Crazy theory? Maybe. I just can’t figure out why the commenters here are so self righteously obsessed with a birthday cake. the best argument I can come up with is commenters here see Snyder’s taking of personal time as evidence of Snyder not doing everything he can do to help Flint–as if nobody will be satisfied that he cares–unless he is making Kroger runs for 24 packs of bottled water 24 hours a day. That does not seem reasonable to me. Remember when Republican’s judged Obama for filling out march madness brackets during war time? We are all human. We all have our limits. We all become useless without personal time and family/ friend time….

    Your description of Snyder as a “public figure” is odd. Nobody is a purely public figure. He has a public and a private life. The party was by definition “private”. The fact that something private was made public and continues to be characterized in the worst light, with all kinds of assumptions and conclusions is not cruel to Snyder–it is cruel to the people of Flint who have been directly affected by lead poisoning. It is not difficult to imagine they are already feeling a sense of doom….Feeling a sense of the cruelty of the world…I am sorry, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t figure out any way to twist the “cake exposee” into something that was done to help the people of Flint…

    If Snyder is guilty of negligence or a coverup then he is clearly an evil sociopath. Pretty sure a cake from Kroger would not absolve him of that distinction….

  57. Maria Huffman
    Posted February 7, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    So, interesting observations, FF. would be nice if Rick Snyder was up in Flint, going house to house checking those filters himself…the cake is a little overdone.

  58. Peter Larson
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 2:58 am | Permalink


    No, I certainly get why many people might feel as you do, but I personally think that this kind of “reporting” distracts from the fact that the Flint crisis is a failure of government at all levels, not the failure of a single individual.

    Moreover, the “let them eat cake” analogy is somewhat misplaced. Louis XVI’s wife was alleged to have said it during a famine, reflecting upper class indifference to the starving populace. Here, it appears a party was planned months ago, far before the new of the Flint crisis broke and there’s no indication that it was a slight against Flint.

    If Snyder has said, “People in Flint can just drink Bud Lite”… now that would be news.

    I feel no sympathy for Snyder, but fear (again) that his role in the crisis will become overly politicized and the greater structural problems which led to it will go ignored. Simply crucifying Snyder will do nothing at all.

    That’s just my opinion. No one has to agree with it.

  59. Demetrius
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    I think many people here are being far too literal. I’m not suggesting the dollars spent on the cake should be spent directly on water and filters. I’m also not suggesting that Snyder and his wife aren’t entitled to have a private life.

    However … since taking office, Snyder and his pals have screwed over Michigan Seniors (through higher taxes on retirees); Workers (through union-busting legislation); Public Education (through cuts to schools and attacks on public school teachers); Cities and Minority Communities (by pushing harsh austerity measures and imposing emergency managers); Infrastructure (by refusing to adequately fund roads and bridges); and Public Health and the Environment (by appointing industry hacks and corporate cronies to regulate business, and to ensure the safety of water systems), etc.

    All of this was done so wealthy residents and and corporations could get big tax breaks – ostensibly, so they could become “job creators,” and help the rest of us share in their growing wealth.

    However, instead of using this additional wealth to create jobs and opportunity, it seems some of them (including the Governor) are using it to fund lavish parties featuring symbols of obscene decadence.

    If nothing else, the party is a vivid, easy-to-understand symbol of the growing gap in income (and power) in our state, and across the nation. So, if this helps even a handful of people understand how they are being exploited by these bastards, then I’m glad it is getting this attention.

    In this way, as Peter pointed out, Snyder and the “cake” are just symbols … but they are powerful and useful symbols.

  60. Jean Henry
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    He hired two PR firm a month ago. This was a massive PR fail. one I find more amusing than reprehensible. While I have been frustrated with the anger-bliss of those on the left calling for Snyder’s head, I don’t think this particular press moment is hate-filled nor a distraction from the larger systemic issue at hand. And I think the reference to Marie Antoinette is appropriate in referring to the systemic neglect at hand in Michigan and elsewhere. The Chanel bag and diamond ring are modern day luxury equivalents of the powdered wig with a ship on it. It’s fitting and funny. Just my opinion; many people agree.

  61. Jean Henry
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Bad writing. No more phone comments. Ick.

  62. maryd
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    The party and cake, blocked windows and all…I am sure we all shared the same thought, remembering Marie Antoinette’s cake comment…It shows he is totally tone deaf.

  63. Peter Larson
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Marie Antoinette likely never made that comment.

    Irrelevant to this thread, but true nonetheless.

  64. Jcp2
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Where should a family worth $200 to $300 million shop? Target? Macy’s?

  65. Demetrius
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    @ Jcp2

    “Vile & Vulgar-R-Us?”

    “Plutocracy, Plunder and Beyond?”

    BTW – I think “Target” works pretty well, too.

  66. yeti
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Snyder is scum, but so is any politician who causes harm to innocents. That includes the President, who has caused the deaths of thousands of children through bombing and drone strikes. Yet, he seems to get a free pass for his decadent celebrity behavior. Where is all the outrage and anger over that? It makes me happy to see people standing up to those who created the horror in Flint, but it needs to move into other areas as well. Just some thoughts.

  67. Meta
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Gawker has the story now too.

    Sometimes urban crises are accidents. Sometimes they’re caused by gross incompetence. And sometimes they’re the result of neglect that borders on malice, a true disdain for a group of people who live somewhere else. A wealthy white man feeding a Michael Kors-themed cake to his wealthy white wife while poor black people 50 miles away have to wait in lines for clean water deliveries makes it a little clearer which kind of crisis we’re dealing with here.

  68. Rat
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Which of these things is not like the other?

    Deadline Detroit

    The answer: MLive. They’re the only “news agency” that didn’t credit with breaking the story.

  69. Jeff Lark
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Optics. He needs two more PR firms.

  70. Kat
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Mother Jones has it now as well.

  71. Jean Henry
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    JCP I have family members worth that much. The only luxury goods they buy are sports equipment. they don’t even have nice cars. They have never hosted a lavish birthday party, but sometimes fly someplace far away and climb a mountain or something to celebrate a birthday. They show up at charity events. That’s about it. It is not a requirement of wealth to make a display of it. All that said I dont have a problem with rich people spending money on fancy stuff. I dont think that’s the point of judgment here. It’s just shows a failure of consideration and empathy to celebrate lavishly (and that is a thousand dollar cake (30 hours labor at $25 est = $750. for labor alone) when others, for whose public safety and provision of basic services you were responsible, continue to suffer. And you continue to charge them for that water (at rates higher than Bloomfield Hills) because you champion fiscal responsibility. And a failure to recognize the concerns and interests of the citizens of Flint is part of what cause this problem. And an insistance on fiscal austerity for others is another piece of what caused this situation.
    As for Pete’s question about whether or not Marie Antionette did or did not say ‘let them et cake’– it suited her behavior. Cultural references just need to be culturally recognized. They do not have to be true only accurate.

  72. Toni
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

  73. Tribe
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

  74. Jcp2
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Snyder ran on a numbers CPA platform. A nerd is mot expected to have social decorum or empathy, else they wouldn’t be a nerd. It’s the story about the scorpion and the frog. You want him to do something that is not in his nature.

  75. Jean Henry
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    No JCP I want to expose the consequences of believing numbers tell the whole story. I have no interest in changing Snyder, but the PR firms should be managing him better. It’s interesting to me that ‘one tough nerd’ idea of tough was towing the line and holding people accountable until he made the error– or two or three– and suddenly was not tough enough to hold himself accountable, admit his mistakes and apologize.

  76. site admin
    Posted February 8, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Now it’s on Mediaite.

  77. site admin
    Posted February 9, 2016 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    And now it’s the New York Daily News.

  78. XXX
    Posted February 9, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Now you’ve done it. It’s now on Russia Today!

  79. (the original) Robert
    Posted February 10, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    In fairness to Synder, you know he must be having to pull out all the stops in trying to keep his wife from leaving him now. I mean, he’s no prize to begin with, and now he’s brought all this disgrace and outrage onto himself and his family. I’m sure she has mostly stuck around for the money, and he needs to make the case that he’ll be kissing her ass from here ’til eternity. She might even have a lot of dirt on him and his profiteering/racketeering bosses. If she were to initiate divorce proceedings now, her attorney might decide to make public all sorts of illegal and unethical conduct and connections. So I understand why he would be doing everything he can to avoid that. The cake really sends home the message, “I’ll do anything to keep you from jumping ship, sweetheart. I don’t give a fuck how shameless it makes me look!” It’s a good strategy.

  80. stupid hick
    Posted February 10, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    The Russia Today article quotes “Ann Arbor blogger Mark Maynard”. I wonder, does it get more click-throughs than “Ypsilant blogger Mark Maynard” would?

  81. Eel
    Posted January 24, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    What is it with Republicans and cakes?

    Trump plagiarized the Obama inauguration cake design!

9 Trackbacks

  1. […] Last week, Michigan blogger Mark Maynard posted a semi-blind item about a secret fete scheduled for downtown Ann Arbor, with some serious state VIPs in attendance: […]

  2. […] Maynard has an explosive post up at his site that starts with a description of a party he had gotten wind […]

  3. […] Thursday, blogger Mark Maynard published a blind item skewering a wealthy Michigan politician for throwing a decadent party for his wife in an upscale Ann […]

  4. […] know that all anyone wants to talk about these days is our story about the elaborate shopping-themed cake Governor Snyder had made for his wife’s bir…, which has now spread to the likes of Gawker and Wonkette, but, for my own sanity, I’ve got […]

  5. […] know that all anyone wants to talk about these days is our story about the elaborate “fuck Flint I want to go shopping”-themed cake Governor Sn…, which has now spread to the likes of Gawker and Wonkette, but, for my own sanity, I’ve got […]

  6. […] finally beginning to turn toward the more serious after last week’s decidedly less weighty Cakegate affair… And that’s a good […]

  7. […] hadn’t happened, I likely wouldn’t have been born, and no one would have broken the Cakegate story… I guess you never know what little things could change the course of history… […]

  8. By Was the road to Flint paved by frackers? on February 16, 2016 at 10:39 am

    […] the “real” media might want to pick this story up, like they did a few weeks ago with our story about Snyder’s secret party for his wife, and do a little investigative reporting. Who knows what they might turn up if they start looking […]

  9. […] past weekend, it was announced that former Michigan Governor Rick “let’s throw an opulent secret birthday party for my wife while people are dying in… had been named a senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School. And, as you might imagine, this […]

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