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Greimel: No gridlock if Democrats win state House

Detroit News staff

House Minority Leader Tim Greimel, who has his eyes set on the speaker’s gavel, is downplaying the idea that state government would be in gridlock should Democrats win the House in November and begin sharing power next year with Gov. Rick Snyder and his fellow Republicans who control the Senate.

“I don’t think they would be against us on a number of issues,” Greimel said during a taping of WKAR-TV’s “Off The Record.”

Greimel, D-Auburn Hills, noted House Democrats and Senate Republicans were in the same boat on raising taxes to fix the state’s roads and creating a citywide commission in Detroit to rein in charter schools.

“Time and time again, House Democrats have been in agreement with the governor, have been in agreement with Senate Republicans about the need to come up and pass responsible policy,” Greimel said. “It’s been the House Republicans who have really been much more right-wing than either the Senate Republicans or the governor and have stood in the way of a lot of common sense policies.”

House Republicans successfully blocked the creation of a Detroit Education Commission with the power to open and close failing charter schools as part of the state’s $617 million bailout of Detroit Public Schools.

Gideon D’Assandro, spokesman for the House Republicans, said the DPS rescue averted a likely bankruptcy for the state’s largest school system without adding restrictions to education choice for parents. A $1.2 billion road funding bill was passed last year, half of which will come from existing revenue.

“The examples that (Greimel) uses are things that we got done,” D’Assandro said. “I would be wary with gridlock with House Democrats, looking at their track record, where Leader Greimel mandates a no vote on certain issues. They take stands for political gain.”

“They even voted no on kicking out Courser and Gamrat,” he added.

House Democrats initially voted “no” or didn’t vote during the Sept. 10-11, 2015 proceedings to expel former state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, both Republicans.

Greimel and his Democratic caucus eventually cut a late-night deal with Republican Speaker Kevin Cotter and most later voted to expel Gamrat from office after Courser resigned over the pair’s sex scandal.

“If they were in majority, you can only imagine what that would be like,” D’Assandro said of House Democrats.

Trump letter lacks unity

Michigan Republican Party leaders last week sent out what they called an “unprecedented” letter urging unity behind presidential nominee Donald Trump, but they were not fully unified in the endeavor.

State Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and 13 out of 14 congressional district chairs signed one version of the letter, while 13th Congressional District Chairman David Dudenhoefer sent out his own.

Dudenhoefer, who helped draft the group version, said he could not sign off on final language suggesting the election of the New York businessman would ensure “a strong national defense, a ‘Rule of Law’ Supreme Court, and a Commander in Chief who in the words of Speaker Ryan will ‘help improve people’s lives’ by supporting the Republican agenda.”

He ended up distributing a more generic version instead.

“There’s absolutely no evidence to support how he would govern,” Dudenhoefer said Wednesday about Trump, explaining he thought it would be irresponsible to make assumptions.

“If Republicans are concerned about experience — they criticized (Barack) Obama because he had little experience — this guy has none. You want to support the ticket, I get that, but don’t make assertions about how he would govern.”

Posting up the Capitol

“When you’re talking about protective steel posts, there’s only so many options available,” Michigan Capitol Commissioner John Truscott said this week in defending new brown “bollards” added to sidewalks skirting the historic building in Lansing.

The fixtures, which stand roughly three feet tall and look something like pawns absent a chess board, are designed to prohibit motorists from driving onto the lawn, which is regularly used for public gatherings.

“The state police has talked about adding different levels of security without being intrusive to visitors, and this is something that does that,” Truscott explained.

The bollards were installed this summer as part of a larger Capitol grounds project that included installation of a heated sidewalk at the building’s main, east-facing public entrance.

They “look better” than cylindrical steel bollards surrounding a federal building across the street from the Capitol, Truscott said, noting their color matches replica lamp posts also added to the Capitol lawn.

“We definitely try to maintain the historical nature of the building, but also modernize it and make it functional,” he said.

Calley defends Milliken

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is standing by former Gov. Bill Milliken despite his endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a development that led the Grand Traverse County Republican Party to disown the 94-year-old.

“This business of people ending friendships, insulting each other and calling out one another because of their choice at the top of the ticket is not worth the cost,” Calley wrote early Saturday morning on Facebook.

The Grand Traverse GOP last week adopted a resolution declaring it will no longer recognize Milliken as a Republican because he endorsed Clinton, “a known liar, probable felon and Democrat for president.”

The resolution was sponsored by Jason Gillman, a conservative activist who recently lost a state House primary to incumbent Republican Rep. Larry Inman of Traverse City.

Calley, who has endorsed Trump, did not mention the Milliken resolution or any other specific comments as he spoke out against “growing intolerance” toward differences of opinion over the presidential race.

“I know Republicans who plan to vote for Clinton and I know some Democrats voting for Trump,” Calley wrote. “This is an election cycle like we’ve never seen. Whether you are happy with your choice, or dismayed, America has weathered much worse storms and bigger threats than this election.”

Contributors: Jonathan Oosting and Chad Livengood