Opinion: Governor, we need some answers on reopening
On Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer again took to the podium to announce she will grant permission for certain regions of our state to resume the regular activities of daily life, while others must adhere to her arbitrary restrictions.
Whitmer touts the MI Safe Start Map as a tool of transparency where citizens can review the risk level of their community to understand the constraints under which they are still forced to live.
On Thursday, I sent a letter to the governor pointing out the inconsistencies and contradictions in her decision-making as it relates to reopening Michigan. We all want our state to reopen safely and sensibly, but Governor Whitmer seems to be more focused on maintaining control than on following her own plan for reopening.
The governor regularly references “data and science” to justify her decisions, but will not share that specific information with the citizens. And the information she does supply often leaves our citizens with more questions than answers.
Citizens are confused as to why counties that seem to qualify for the upper risk phase designations are lumped into regions that are held to more restrictive levels. And, they are even more confused as to why the direction given by Whitmer at a podium does not align with the details found in the phases of the MI Safe Start Plan.
On Friday, Whitmer announced certain regions of the state will be moved to Phase 5, while the rest of the state must linger in Phase 4. This development follows the governor’s announcement earlier in the week that the whole state was only eligible for Phase 4.
Furthermore, the MI Safe Start Plan specifically designates restaurants and bars as "Available for take-out, delivery and drive-through only," but the governor says restaurants can open for dine-in services. Which is it?
We are not suggesting reverting to more restrictive operations but feel compelled to point out these inconsistencies. This is what happens when power is vested in a single authoritarian rather than relying on the system of checks and balances that are the foundation of our government.
Furthermore, upon study of the MI Safe Start Plan and map, it appears that a number of counties in Michigan qualify for a Phase 5 designation, not just northern Michigan. That means people across our state should be allowed to do simple things like safely gathering indoors, going to the gym, or even getting a haircut without having to wait until the governor’s new date of June 15.
Even in the map’s Detroit region, eight of nine counties seem to have indicators that place them in Phase 5 or show signs of nearing the designation, yet the governor tells these residents they must wait another 10 days to return to their lives and livelihoods.
These examples are meant to help illustrate the great frustration felt by citizens, business owners, and industry, alike. The Whitmer administration references elusive data to make arbitrary decisions about reopening our state.
The Senate Republican caucus did not extend the state of emergency on April 30 because we believed it was time for the executive and legislative branches of government to work together on a path forward to reopen Michigan.
Instead, Whitmer rejected our offer to work together in favor of maintaining her singular control over decision-making. The people of Michigan deserve better than colorful tools of distraction and rhetoric delivered from behind a podium. They deserve to see behind the curtain of decision-making.
The people of our state are ready to return to their lives and their livelihoods, based on their own comfort level. From what we can see, the whole state should be moved into Phase 5 now.
Please tell us, governor: What data are you relying upon to make us all wait?
Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, is the Senate majority leader.