Brandon Dillon sheds light on how progressives think
So often in today’s political world, it’s difficult to hold so-called progressives accountable for their actions.
First, they don’t really spell out their rules before deciding who needs to be attacked. Politically correct speech on major college campuses is a perfect example.
Progressives rarely reveal the true agenda of their plans because they know the outrage and backlash it would cause.
That’s why it’s rather surprising to see the new head of the Michigan Democratic Party “step in it” (no, stomp in it) recently in his effort to help a couple liberal-aligned research companies come to our state to collect about a half million dollars to give a predetermined finding aimed at driving up teacher salaries.
Brandon Dillon was in the Legislature when the ill-fated Proposal 1 roads bill was placed before the voters.
While Michiganians answered that plan with a resounding 80 percent no vote, a little noticed part of the package was passed, one that issues a request for proposal to study the link between higher education spending and student achievement in the classroom.
Republicans went along with this Democratic idea as part of the sort of bipartisan comity we hear so much about these days. But it serve Michigan well in this case.
This RFP offers up $500,000 to the company chosen to do the study — which is hardly necessary in the first place, except for political goals I’ll explain — after Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management, and Budget selects the winner, probably in early September.
Oddly, the the department has scheduled no formal presentations from the three firms bidding for the job, which is basically a repeat of a similar study conducted in Michigan nine years ago.
That one was done by Anderson Economic Group, until now a well-respected firm that has conducted numerous research projects for state and local governments, as well as the largest corporations and private business groups in the state.
The man who runs the firm, Patrick Anderson, told me his company used detailed methodology and 18 different biometric studies to make its conclusions at the time.
So why do we need another study now?
Because state Democrats won this tradeoff as part of the Prop 1 negotiations, and they thought they kept the RFP quiet enough that only their own favorite firms would realize the opportunity to bid.
Problem is, Anderson (who is a Republican), and some of his Democratic employees found out just before the deadline and made their own proposal for the business.
Anderson Economics would seem like a natural for the job, based on the firm’s reputation and that of its leader, who was the first to tell Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature that Proposal 1 was a bad idea. This is hardly the action of someone in the pocket of a particular political party.
But that didn’t stop Brandon Dillon, Michigan Democratic Party boss, from laying into Anderson, calling him a “hack” and his firm unqualified, while saying his party crafted this part of Prop 1 to keep firms like Anderson out of the bidding process.
Instead, Dillon wants the study to be conducted by one of the other two bidders who both happen to be from out of state and whose findings can be predicted.
Those two companies are Cross and Joftus, whose conclusions led Newark, New Jersey public schools to increase spending, which included $742,000 over two years for a pair of the firm’s employees to serve as “consultants” to the failing district.
The other firm is from Colorado, Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates, which has repeatedly called for more spending in schools to insure better academic achievement.
No record could be found of either firm coming to any other conclusion so I think it’s safe to say we know what they’re going to decide Michigan needs after they’ve pocketed their half-million dollars in taxpayer money.
But the danger to our state goes even deeper.
The current trend among Democrats and their teacher union allies is to use these studies to force more money into union coffers, and use lawsuits to back them up.
They’ve done it on numerous occasions, most recently in Kansas and Nevada, but most notably in Washington, where the state supreme court is fining the government $100,000 a day until the legislature comes back into session and increases education funding based on results from one of those studies.
Such a lawsuit to squeeze unwarranted dollars out of taxpayers pockets might or might not happen in Michigan.
But at least we know the game plan going in. Maybe we ought to thank Dillon for that and the rare example of liberal transparency.
Frank Beckmann is host of “The Frank Beckmann Show” on WJR-AM (760) from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday.