With a deep bench and a commitment to government
accountability, Michigan Capitol Confidential continues to break stories that
much of the mainstream media doesn’t have the resources or political will to
touch. Whether at the local, state or federal level, CapCon is exposing
questionable policies, inaccurate reporting and key votes that politicians
hoped no one would notice.
The top story on
July 13 was the Lawrence Public Schools use of its phone alert system to send
out a robocall instructing residents and parents how to participate in the
recall effort against Gov. Rick Snyder.
Capitol Confidential’s Jack Spencer called the
superintendent of the district. “It will never happen again” Lawrence Public
Schools Superintendent John Overley told Spencer. “It will not be done again,
The article became
a national news story when it was picked up by PajamasMedia.com, home of
“Instapundit” blogger Glenn Reynolds.
Over the course of several weeks, CapCon also reported
that several school districts that earlier in the year were warning of mass
teacher firings and layoffs in the face of small funding cuts have actually
maintained staffing levels or added teachers. Reporter Tom Gantert, working
with Education Policy Director Michael Van Beek, also wrote about several
school districts that were claiming severe budget cuts, when in reality those
districts’ spending has increased year after year.
While a united mainstream media chorus was repeating the
conventional understanding that
Gov. Snyder’s first budget agreement would cut state spending, Capitol
Confidential readers learned from Mackinac Center analysts James Hohman and
Jack McHugh that the truth was a lot more complicated.
The pair concluded that state spending from resources
taken directly from Michigan taxpayers will actually increase in the next
fiscal year by $758 million. In other words, the money that state lawmakers
most directly control — and the spending that hits state taxpayers the hardest
— will be higher in the next fiscal year.
In June, there was a
two-front fight against Project Labor Agreements — a special perk that
effectively shuts out non-union merit-shop contractors from government
construction projects and thus drives up the cost to taxpayers. That month
featured three votes at the state and national level to kill PLAs: the U.S.
House of Representatives, the Michigan House of Representatives, and the
Michigan Senate each had roll call votes forcing members to state their
on the issue.
Support amongst Michigan Republicans to kill the PLAs was
nearly unanimous. A bill to kill PLAs moved through the Michigan Legislature
with unanimous GOP support and was signed by Gov. Snyder.
At the national level, one Republican lawmaker from Michigan
voted with the unions: Congressman Thad McCotter of Livonia. One type of PLA
mandate imposed by President Obama survived the U.S. House by a single vote,
and thus never went to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Effectively this
means that Rep. McCotter could have changed the outcome in the House by simply
voting the other way — or even just not voting at all.
This was the story posted on Capitol Confidential on June
On June 24, Rep. McCotter called in as the guest interview
to the USA Talk Radio website. The host, Steve Rosenblum, asked about the
Capitol Confidential article and received what Rosenblum would later
characterize as a response that was “a little testy” in comparison to his
previous chats with the congressman.
Rather than address the substance of PLA policy, Rep.
McCotter instead took issue with whether or not his vote was the deciding vote.
And then he quickly announced that he needed to catch an airplane.