Mackinac Center President Joseph Lehman received the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance’s “Voice of the Taxpayer” award.
By continually breaking stories to an active and
influential audience, Michigan Capitol Confidential has continued to grow in
influence following the historic 2010 election.
On Dec. 17, the Michigan
Taxpayers Alliance awarded Michigan Capitol Confidential with its “Voice of the
Taxpayer” award for filling the “void left by lazy and/or biased news media.”
CapCon was commended for producing “real, hard-hitting investigative journalism
on behalf of taxpaying citizens.”
Mackinac Center President Joseph Lehman accepted the award
on behalf of Michigan Capitol Confidential.
What sort of accomplishments was the MTA award referring
On Dec. 21, Michigan Capitol Confidential posted an
article about the West Bloomfield School District, noting that teachers had been
eligible for a 173 percent increase in pay over the previous 11 years.
There was an ongoing labor dispute because the district could no longer afford
to pay those costs. The dispute exploded on Feb. 15, when 40 percent of the
teachers at West Bloomfield High School refused to show up for work, staging a
“sick out” to evade the state law prohibiting teacher strikes.
On Feb. 18, 2011, Michigan Capitol Confidential reporter
Tom Gantert tied all of these points together in an article about the “sick
out.” While some local media had covered the issue, it was Michigan Capitol
Confidential that made it a national story with a link on the Drudge Report. It
appeared on the same day as the massive “sick out” by teachers in Wisconsin,
and more than 50,000 visitors from all over the nation came to Michigan Capitol
Confidential to learn the Michigan angle on the national discussion regarding
outsized public employee pay and benefits.
This article marked the second time in a year that
Gantert’s Michigan Capitol Confidential work has appeared on Drudge. In his
20-plus years at Michigan newspapers like the Lansing State Journal and the Ann
Arbor News, he did not ever have a single article picked up by Drudge.
Some other examples from the last few months:
national talk show host Neal Boortz picked up a Michigan Capitol Confidential
article exposing the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters for baselessly protesting a Grand Rapids-area businessman. He
also put it on his website, driving 8,000 visitors to the story. An edited version of the same article was added to
the print edition of the Macomb Daily. (See related story, "Unions Run It up the Flagpole")
- New Michigan Congressman Justin Amash voted
against renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act. Michigan Capitol Confidential called to
get his reasons for doing so. His answer became the subject of the main
editorial in the Sunday New York Times (complete with a hyperlink back to
Michigan Capitol Confidential).
- Another article featured a Michigan businessman
with a profitable dream of starting a company that removed logs from Michigan
lakes and sold them. It was Michigan Capitol Confidential that explained the
barrier in his way: The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality requires
him to submit a GPS coordinate for each log before he removes them. He
literally needed “messages from space” before he could remove logs from lakes.
The DEQ told reporter Tom Gantert that they would discontinue the requirement.
It is uncertain whether this would have been the case without the Michigan
Capitol Confidential investigation.
- An administrator at the Saline Public Schools
appeared in a district-funded promotional video asking voters to vote in favor
of a school bond. This apparently clear violation of the state’s campaign
finance act was caught by the Michigan Capitol Confidential staff and became
the subject of a daily news story. The district removed the video as soon as
Michigan Capitol Confidential called for a reaction.
As readership expands, Michigan Capitol Confidential
continues to investigate the actions of public officials and the effect of
public policies on Michigan residents.