Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley held a town hall in the Garfield Township Hall on Nov. 21st, at 6 p.m. Mr. Calley has entered the race for Michigan Governor' for 2018. About 30 people were there with about 7 students from a Government class and three members of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The members of the Grand Traverse Band were there to question Mr.Calley about Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.
The first question was about Education and how our local schools receive less money per student. Mr. Calley explained that this was because of the compromises from Proposal A from 1993-1994. Proposal A changed how funding was allocated from property taxes and sales taxes. He and Governor Snyder are trying to redress the differences by doubling any increase in per student allocations in their years in office, but it still is unequal.
The next question from the Grand Traverse Band was very respectful and well informed. Basically, they asked how they, as water protectors, could have Line 5 shut down. Mr. Calley danced around it saying he needed to figure out the proper method but the questioner, who was an attorney, said that the governor or attorney general’s office could revoke the easement and it would be closed down. He refused to be pinned down to a date but said he understood their real concerns. The next questioner explained that they would be the ones trying to control a spill and that it would spread quickly and severely damage the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron waters.
The third questioner asked about the difficulties of providing social services and dealing with the rules of the Native American sovereign nation and the rules of the federal and state government. Mr. Calley advocates seamless integration of the social services to enable people to reach their full potential. He supports programs that spend little on administration and deliver the services to the people. About 45 minutes was devoted to these questions.
A member of the audience asked a further question about Line 5 and advocated its closure. The next question was about getting services to the person who needs them. Mr. Calley used a few lines that he must use frequently. Social services should be a “lifeline” not a “life styles”. When people sign up for social services they should immediately be planning for getting off the program.
There were several questions about water and sewage infrastructure and he explained that these are local issues, not state responsibilities. He did say that most sewer supervisors are very knowledgeable.
I asked him about the anti-gerrymandering ballot issue and the independent commission for redistricting. He answered that the current guidelines can not cross township lines and he thinks they work well. After the meeting I told him that he needs to study up on gerrymandering. He does not understand the issues.
There was a question about Asian Carp. Mr. Calley wants a physical barrier to the carp. He does not like the ideas that are currently advocated by the Corps of Engineers.
There was a final question about third grade retention. This gave him a chance to talk about the need for good readers by third grade. He wants the proper intervention for each child’s particular challenge. He said that schools in the state are underfunded by about $700 million for special education.
One of the pleasant aspect of the evening was the respectful attitudes from both sides. The audience were not called “kids” or”boys and girls.” Mr. Calley was challenged to be specific and he mostly side stepped that demand. In my opinion, he is a very weak candidate. He seemed minimally informed for someone who has been in the lieutenant governor’s position for 7 years. He was pleasant and positive. He is using reading by third grade as a signature issue. He wants to decrease bureaucracy but still take care of people who have social service needs. He seemed sincere but he lacked a forceful delivery and he does not inspire you to follow him.