Andy Dillon

Control – the ability to command and direct events – is the elusive ambition of politicians. Politicians seek office promising to get things done or, in some rare cases, to stop something from getting done. But, mostly, they want to control their fates. We all want that, of course, but, it is not that simple.

Public life is complicated and messy.

Take, for example, Gov. Snyder. In just less than a week, Snyder will deliver his fourth State of the State address. He’ll wax on about the accomplishments of the last three years as he also proposes an agenda for this year and lays the groundwork for his reelection bid.

And, yes, we say his reelection bid. Though the governor has not yet announced he will seek reelection, as we’ve talked about before on It’s Just Politics, Snyder is certainly already acting like a candidate. The governor’s reelection campaign has already bought airtime, just like they did four years ago, on Super Bowl Sunday. (One more reason we know Snyder will run again: He’s said the Detroit Lions will be in the Super Bowl before he leaves office… yet another thing he can’t control.)

Going into the 2014 election, Gov. Snyder and other Republicans would like to be focused on good news like revenue surpluses and balanced budgets. But something always seems to get in the way. And, this week, that was the continuing drama surrounding former state Treasurer Andy Dillon’s personal and professional life.

Well, it is an election year, and there seems to be something of a state budget surplus, or so projections show. Now, if you’ve been around, and have lived through a crisis and a recession or two, you know that January surpluses can disappear faster than forsythia blossoms in spring.

But politicians, including Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, are falling all over themselves to bellow that the billion-dollar surplus is a good excuse to give voters a tax cut. To his credit, Gov. Rick Snyder isn’t one of them. At least today, that is.

Associated Press

More than two months ago, former State Treasurer Andy Dillon resigned, clouded in controversy.

Today, word leaked out that Dillon is still on the state payroll – and has been since November 1 – still pulling down his full salary of $174,204 for training his successor, Kevin Clinton.

Zoe Clark, co-host of Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics joins us to talk about the controversy, along with Lester Graham of Michigan Watch.

Listen to the full interview above.

Closing arguments start Friday in Detroit’s bankruptcy eligibility trial.

Witness testimony wrapped up this week, with former State Treasurer Andy Dillon and one of Governor Snyder’s top aides, Rich Baird, both taking the stand.

Dillon testified that he was “skeptical” after seeing Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s June proposal to city creditors, which included steep cuts to unsecured creditors, including pensions.

Associated Press

Former state Treasurer Andy Dillon finished his testimonial in Detroit’s bankruptcy trial, bringing his three-day testimonial to a close.

On Tuesday, Dillon defended his recommendation for Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, saying it was a “last-resort option.” But some of Detroit's creditors are arguing that the decision to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy was not exactly a last resort, but instead a quick decision that overlooked an opportunity to continue negotiations.

Michigan.gov

Gov. Rick Snyder says Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Director Kevin Clinton will succeed departing Treasurer Andy Dillon next month.

Kevin Clinton will play an important role in the state’s financial intervention in struggling cities and schools. He admits he’ll have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to Detroit’s historic bankruptcy filing.

Associated Press

He announced today that he will step down effective November 1. 

In his statement, Dillon said his recent divorce "distracted" him from his work:

“It is with mixed emotions that I announce I have tendered my resignation to Governor Snyder. It has become clear to me-- as it likely is to most -- that it is unfair to my family and the residents of Michigan, to allow issues related to my recent divorce and the unfortunate acrimony associated with it to be a continued source of media attention and scrutiny. My family deserves privacy and our residents deserve to know their State Treasurer is not distracted by such issues and events. For these personal and professional reasons, I have determined it is in the best interests of all that I resign."

Dillon was both praised and criticized for his role in ushering the city of Detroit into bankruptcy. In a statement, Governor Rick Snyder praised Dillon for his tireless work and expertise.Dillon's announcement comes one day after he was deposed by union lawyers about Detroit's bankruptcy.

"The decision to seek bankruptcy protection was not an easy one but was determined to be the only remaining way to address Detroit's long-running financial crisis," Dillon said yesterday after the three-hour meeting.

Dillon was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in January 2011, after an unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination in the state’s 2010 gubernatorial election.

Bill Ballenger is with the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics. He says it was a little surprising it took this long for Dillon to step down, but he says he saw no sign that Dillon's personal turmoil was affecting his job performance. "It made it unlikely he could continue to be any kind of an asset," said Ballenger. "On the other hand there hasn't been any criticism of Andy Dillon's performance as state treasurer.

Official Portrait

REDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A spokeswoman says the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office is considering whether to charge state Treasurer Andy Dillon with assaulting his ex-wife.

Office spokeswoman Maria Miller told The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press on Friday that a warrant request was submitted by Redford Township police.

Carol Dillon accuses her ex-husband of "assaultive behavior" while drunk at her township home on July 13. Andy Dillon's attorney, James Harrington III, says the complaint is "without merit."

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Andy Dillion's campaign funds in disarray

“Michigan election officials are declining to allow the closing of a fund from state Treasurer Andy Dillon's 2010 race for governor because of $105,000 that isn't properly accounted for. Dillon lost to Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero in the race for the Democratic nomination. The Detroit Free Press  says that no one has made any claims of improper activity, but the Department of State normally requires campaign funds to have zero balances before they can be dissolved. Dillon spokesman Terry Stanton says the issues are technical and are being addressed by the campaign treasurers,” according to the Associated Press.

Governor Snyder headed to the UP

“Governor Rick Snyder is on a road trip in the western Upper Peninsula. The governor has several stops planned Monday and Tuesday, starting at Miner's Heritage Memorial Park in Ironwood where he will speak at the dedication of a trailhead. Snyder also will tour a mine in Wakefield before going to Houghton and Hancock. On Tuesday, he'll be in Copper Harbor and Negaunee,” the Associated Press reports.

Wolf hunt petition drive joins three others

The campaign to outlaw wolf hunts in the Upper Peninsula officially launches today with an event in Lansing. It joins three other petition drives already in the field.

“Right to Life of Michigan wants to get around Governor Rick Snyder’s veto of a bill to require consumers to buy a separate insurance rider if they want abortion coverage. Environmental groups want to outlaw a controversial natural gas drilling method known as “fracking.” There is also a drive to end the Legislature’s practice of making some controversial legislation immune to referendum challenges,” Rick Pluta reports.

Dwight Burdette / wikimedia commons

The financially troubled Michigan school districts of Inkster and Buena Vista have until 5 p.m. Monday, July 22 to prove they have the money to run their school districts and that they have plans to eliminate their deficits.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon and Superintendent of Schools Mike Flanagan informed the districts of that deadline today.

Bernt Rostad / flickr

Governor Rick Snyder says the Detroit mayor and city council are operating under some tight deadlines if they want to avoid a state takeover.

A formal state Treasury review of the city’s finances is underway.

Governor Snyder’s been critical of the slow pace and infighting that have delayed Detroit’s compliance with a consent agreement with the state.

Mayor Dave Bing and the city council took some actions this week, but the governor said things need to move more quickly.

Detroit’s march toward a state-appointed emergency financial manager appeared to speed up Monday, as State Treasurer Andy Dillon announced his intention to start the review process that could end up there.

The city’s financial advisory board voted to support Dillon's move to start the process. It can last up to 30 days under Public Act 72.

Board members heard ever-more dire news about the city’s finances during the meeting

Associated Press

Before giving Wayne County the go-ahead on an unorthodox deficit reduction plan, the state wants peruse the county's books.

According to John Wisely at the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Treasurer Andy Dillon is taking bids from accounting firms to perform the audit. Auditors would look at discrepancies in spending and budgeting along with the timing of certain transactions.

Officials in Lansing are on the lookout for anything fishy because the plan would involve state money.

More from the Freep:

Last month, the county proposed eliminating its deficit by sending unused state grant money, for things like roads and mental health programs, back to the state. It wants the state to return a similar amount to the county unrestricted, meaning it could be used to eliminate the deficit instead of funding the programs spelled out in the legislation.

Wayne County has a cumulative deficit of $155 million and faces declining revenues in its latest budget cycle.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

The standoff between Lansing and some Detroit city officials over a lawsuit showed little sign of fizzling out Tuesday.

But it also appears the state might be looking for ways to give the city some leeway if the contentious situation continues much longer.

The standoff began last week when Detroit’s corporation counsel, Krystal Crittendon, went to court asking for a judge’s opinion about whether the consent agreement between the city and state should be voided.

The state review team investigating Detroit’s finances met for what was supposed to be the last time Monday.

They reaffirmed that Detroit is in “severe financial stress” during a raucous meeting that veered into chaos at times.

Protesters, angry at what many call an unconstitutional hostile takeover of the city, mostly shouted over team members as they tried to deliberate.

Governor Snyder and other state officials have told Detroit this week it needs to accept a consent agreement to avoid going broke.

A draft agreement has been presented to the City Council. It would give the state a great deal of say in how Detroit is run.

But lots of politics stand in the way of reaching an agreement.

The consent agreement State Treasurer Andy Dillon has crafted for Detroit—the only “official” proposal out there right now--can be seen in one of two ways.

The state team reviewing Detroit’s finances has avoided a scheduled court date—and possible contempt of court--by disbanding a controversial sub-committee.

An Ingham County Circuit Court Judge had ordered the team to appear in court Monday.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the city is “at a critical and pivotal time like none in Detroit’s history."

But during his third annual State of the City address, Bing gave few details about how he’ll deal with the city’s most immediate threat: running out of cash.

Bing said both he and Governor Snyder “agree that an emergency manager is not the best option” for Detroit.

AP File Photo

The state review team looking into Detroit’s finances met in public for the first time Tuesday.

But the meeting was short—less than 20 minutes--and revealed almost nothing about the process behind the review.

The team, led by State Treasurer Andy Dillon, briefly reviewed Detroit’s bleak financial picture--without major changes, the city will run out of cash before the end of the fiscal year. There was also a brief public comment period.

Update 1:32 p.m.

Another update from MPRN's Rick Pluta. In this morning's status conference, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette told the attorney for State Treasurer Andy Dillon that he would rather the state not hold any financial review meetings until he rules whether these meetings have to adhere to the state's Open Meetings Act.

The judge said he's inclined to rule that closed door state financial review meetings violate the Open Meetings Act, but he's waiting to hear the state's argument. State attorneys have not filed their paperwork yet.

The state agreed to the judge's wishes saying they weren't planning to hold any financial review meetings prior to next week's hearing anyway.

11:49 a.m.

MPRN's Rick Pluta followed up on this story for more clarification.

He spoke with Judge William Collette's assistant this morning, and with Andrew Patterson, the lawyer representing the plaintiff.

There was no official ruling from Judge Collette, as WXYZ in Detroit had reported.

Judge Collette only held an informal meeting with the two sides arguing the case this morning (Andrew Patterson and a lawyer representing State Treasurer Andy Dillon).

The plaintiff is Robert Davis, the board secretary of the Highland Park School District.

Davis said the state's financial review team violated Michigan's Open Meetings Act by holding private meetings, failing to post public notices for the meetings, and for failing to keep minutes of the meetings.

Davis wants the judge to void the recommendations of the state's financial review team that led to the appointment of an emergency manager for Highland Park schools.

The state maintains that closed door meetings are allowable for the financial review teams and for emergency managers.

Judge Colette informed the parties this morning of his inclination in the case.

He said, in his initial judgement, it appears the Michigan Open Meetings Act applies to emergency manager meetings and meetings held by the state's financial review teams.

Judge Colette directed those arguing the case to prepare their arguments for a hearing he is expected to hold next Wednesday morning. It's also possible that the parties will reach an agreement prior to a hearing.

10:10 a.m. 

The Chief Judge of Ingham Circuit Court has ruled indicated that Governor Snyder and State Treasurer Andy Dillon cannot hold closed meetings with regard to emergency mangers and financial review teams, according to WXYZ in Detroit:

Treasurer Dillon had previously announced that the Emergency Manager process was not subject to the state's "Open Meetings Act."

The ruling means that the state financial team can no longer meet in private. The public must be allowed to be a part of these meetings.

We'll have more on this story as it develops.

*Correction - an earlier version of this story stated that Chief Judge Collette issued a ruling. He only held an informal meeting with the parties this morning. We put strike-throughs on the incorrect text above. A ruling, or an agreement is expected sometime next week.

user andrea_44 / Flickr

Update 3:29 p.m.

The Associated Press has this report on reaction from Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the city already is working to address financial problems detailed by a new state review.

Bing says in a statement Wednesday that the city plans to "fully cooperate" with the state's financial review process. His comments came after the state announced it had found that "probable financial stress" exists in the city of Detroit...

Bing has said Detroit faces a $150 million budget deficit and a projected $45 million cash shortfall, but argues that progress is being made without state oversight. He is seeking concessions from city unions and says Wednesday the goal is to forge an agreement "soon."

12:34 p.m.

"The longer it takes to address Detroit's financial problems, the more painful the potential solutions become." - State Treasurer, Andy Dillon

Michigan State Treasurer said today that their preliminary review of Detroit's finances found the city to be in "probable financial stress."

More from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

Governor Rick Snyder will order an intensive review of Detroit’s finances now that a team from the state Treasury has determined the city is in “probable financial stress.”

It is the next step in a process that could wind up with the governor naming an emergency manager to run the city.

State Treasurer Andy Dillon said the administration still hopes Mayor Dave Bing and the city council can come up with its own plan that would avert a state takeover.

“It’s our number one hope that the city, the city council and labor can make its own deal that the state is not be part of, but, so that we’re ready for the event of maybe a cash shortfall in April, we thought it necessary to have the formal review process run in tandem with the progress that the city’s making,” said Dillon.

A report highlighted last month by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing found that without changes, Michigan’s largest city could run out of money sometime in April.

The Detroit Free Press reports on what the preliminary financial review found:

Dillon said in a report the city had violated the uniform budgeting and accounting act by not adjusting its budget on a timely basis and had not filed an adequate deficit elimination plan. He also cited a mounting debt problem, trouble making payments to pension plans and the possibility the city will be short of cash by April...

Dillon said in his report that “city officials are either incapable or unwilling to manage its own finances.” Also “as we have noted on numerous occasions, the longer it takes to address Detroit’s financial problems, the more painful the potential solutions become,” he said.

After the next review, an emergency manager could be appointed to run Detroit.

Governor Rick Snyder and members of his budget team visited New York to meet with the agencies that set the state’s credit rating.

The state’s rating suffered due to the effects of the decade-long recession.

It's bond ratings are not that bad, but they could be better.

Governor Snyder traveled to Wall Street with state Treasurer Andy Dillon and Budget Director John Nixon. They made the case that Michigan deserves an upgrade because it’s overhauled its business tax and wrapped up its budget months ahead of schedule without resorting to accounting gimmicks and one-time fixes.

Sara Wurfel, the governor’s press secretary, said “one change in a state’s bond rating can actually mean millions of dollars in lower payments.”

The governor’s itinerary included meetings with Moody's, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's. The meetings only opened the discussions with Wall Street, and Wurfel says there will be further negotiations as the governor tries to reduce the cost to taxpayers when Michigan borrows money.

screen grab from TV commercial

People and businesses that owe back taxes to the state of Michigan have until June 30th to pay up without paying fines and penalties.

There are potentially hundreds of thousands of people and businesses that owe the state unpaid taxes.

The state hopes to net $90 million dollars from the tax amnesty program. 

State Treasurer Andy Dillon says if you owe, now is a good time to pay:

"It doesn’t matter why you didn't pay your taxes – the penalties can be forgiven. And the penalties can be quite stiff. It depends on the tax that you’re talking about, but it can be as much as 25% of the liability that can be forgiven, and the sooner you pay it off, the sooner you stop paying interest on that obligation."

This is the third time since the 1980s the state’s offered amnesty to people and businesses with unpaid back taxes.

The program requires payment of all back taxes plus interest.

The amnesty program was approved by the Legislature last year to find some new revenue to help balance the budget.

The Michigan Tax Amnesty website declares "all excuses welcome."

Here's the program's TV spot:

Zoe Clark / Michigan Radio

Governor-elect Rick Snyder announced this morning in Ann Arbor that he has picked Democrat Andy Dillon to be state treasurer.  Dillon is currently the Speaker in the Michigan House of Representatives.  Interestingly enough, Dillon lost the Democratic bid to be Michigan's next governor to his primary opponent Virg Bernero.  Bernero went on to lose the general election on November 2nd to Snyder.

Governor-elect Rick Snyder
Photo Courtesy of www.rickformichigan.com

Update 8:34 AM:

The Associated Press is reporting Govenror-elect Rick Snyder has chosen House Speaker Andy Dillon to be the state's next treasurer.  Former Lt. Gov Dick Posthumus will be his legislative affairs advisor.

7:16 AM: