In the latest development on the secrecy and unanswered questions surrounding a potential $10 million state subsidy for the Hangar42 film studio project, WoodTV in Grand Rapids reports the following response from the Michigan Film Office to their inquiries: "We have been directed by the Attorney General's office and Treasury to not divulge either an approval or denial" of the deal. (For background, see "Government secrecy rules on $10 million film studio subsidy.")

This is a breathtakingly broad claim of official government secrecy regarding a massive taxpayer money giveaway program, especially one that has proven in other states to be fertile ground for corruption. Among other things, it would seem to open the program up to unlimited rumor-mongering along these lines:

The Michigan Film Office has been advised by the state Attorney General not to answer questions about a rumor that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il is being considered for a $20 million Michigan film subsidy for an autobiographical docu-drama to be filmed in Traverse City and called, "My Life in the Killing Fields."

or

The Michigan Film Office has been advised by the state Attorney General not to answer questions about a rumor that Bernie Madoff is being considered for a $5 million instructional video on how to make money in the stock market.

Important: As far as we know there are no North Korean or Madoffian Michigan film subsidies in the works! These examples are provided merely as a demonstration of the risks such a "don't ask, don't tell" policy opens up for state officials tasked with handing out the taxpayer loot to select film studios. However, as long as the Legislature opts to allow these bureaucrats this degree of secrecy, it's their choice.

Incidentally, the Senate Fiscal Agency is projecting that the subsidy program will cost Michigan taxpayers $107.8 million in the current fiscal year, and $132.3 million in the next.