Opinion
9:56 am
Tue December 24, 2013

What Michiganders are getting for Christmas

Lessenberry commentary for 12/14/13

Well, I would like to take this opportunity to stage a preemptive strike and wish everybody a Merry Christmas. If you aren’t Christian, don’t be offended; neither am I. However, I do believe in honoring any holiday that is a good excuse to eat and celebrate with people you care about.

There are also the less fortunate, which this year, sadly includes tens of thousands of Michigan families who lost power in the ice storm and apparently won’t have it back before Christmas.

By the way, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero may win the prize for the most inane holiday season comment. Yesterday, he said even of you lack heat or light in these bone-chilling temperatures, quote, “I think people can still have a great holiday,” and added, “it’s going to be a little different.“

No kidding.

Detroiters are getting a major present next week: A new mayor. Current Mayor Dave Bing may be getting an even better present: He won’t have to be there anymore. Somehow, I think he’s happier about that than a 10-year-old with a new bike.

By the way, Mayor Bernero does have competition in the most insensitive comment department. Yesterday, Maura Corrigan, the director of the state Department of Human Services, talked about the relatively new law throwing people off welfare forever after four years.

She said it has proven to be a big success. She said “People are paying attention and understanding they only have four years. . . We are very proud of the progress we’ve made,“ she said.

Well, she might want to spend a couple of hours some cold winter night down at the Detroit Rescue Mission.

By the way, I am fully aware that welfare dependency for life is not a solution. I also know that some people in distress have largely brought their problems on themselves. But my question is … what about their children? 

On a happier note, General Motors for the first time in years is getting a new CEO who actually is an engineer who has devoted a lifetime to the car business. And for the first time ever, that CEO will be a woman, which is, frankly, thrilling.

If you watch TV this holiday season, you can consider it a present that you have a final few days before the airwaves will start to be flooded with campaign commercials. This year, the legislature gave rich special interests an early Christmas present by voting to prevent the secretary of state from forcing anyone to disclose who funds these so-called issue-oriented ads. The governor hasn’t yet said if he will sign that bill.

There are still a lot of people who don’t know what, if anything, they are getting for Christmas. I do have a considerable wish list. I’d like the pensions of the neediest folks somehow preserved, and all the treasures of the Detroit Institute of Arts saved. I’d like Detroit to emerge from state control and bankruptcy with a plan to stay solvent and, someday, even become prosperous. 

Most of all, I would like next year to be better for all of Michigan than this one was. And with that -- let’s stop talking, and eat.  

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s political analyst. Views expressed in the essays by Lessenberry are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.