Cynical Synapse

Fri, 01 Jan 2010

Michigan’s Top Embarassments of 2009

Michigan welcome sign

Michigan is a beautiful state, with lots of great people, and countless things to do. We’ve had our fair share of scandals and otherwise embarassing momements, however. It seems like 2009 had more than previous years in recent memory.

The Rossman Group, a Lansing public relations firm, came up with their list of Michigan’s Top Ten Public Relations Blunders for 2009. I don’t necessarily agree with their ranking. Ostensibly, they developed their list as a result of feedback solicited on Twitter.

Lots of people do top ten lists at the end of the year. Another popular method of summing up a year is the year-in-review format. So here is the Cynical Synapse 2009 Year in Review.

Michael Phelps with bong

January. Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps was pictured smoking marijuana. Not surprisingly, the winner of 14 gold medals lost his lucrative spokesman gig with Battle Creek-based cereal maker Kellogg. On top of that, the former University of Michigan swimming sensation was also suspended from competition.

Pete Hoekstra

February. US Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who scored 9th on Rossman’s list, actually has a couple of faux pas this year. Hoesktra started by twittering his Iraq itinerary during a Congressional delegation visit there. How does the wannabe-governor square that with his remarks in a 2006 LA Times op-ed?

We are a nation at war. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information only help terrorists and our enemies—and put American lives at risk.

In November, Hoesktra revealed national security information in his haste to criticize the Obama administration for missing the red flags in MAJ Nidal M. Hasan’s behavior. Back on his high horse in December, he blasted the administration for not “connecting the dots” and failing to properly screen Abdulmatallob. Perhaps Hoekstra’s forgotten he voted against TSA funding, including explosives screeners. Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (SC) also has a hold on confirmation of a new chief for the Transportation Security Administration.

Don’t misunderstand. There were three terrorist acts committed on US territory by radical Muslims in 2009. Each case involves connections to Yemen, presumably al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula, and each included suspicions by authorities. The MAJ Hasan and Abdulmatallab cases are fresh in mind. The other was the June slaying of a young Soldier at a US Army Recruiting Station in West Little Rock, AR.

Barbara-Rose Collins in Detroit City Council

March. Next up is Detroit City Council member Barbara-Rose Collins and her rendition of “Onward Christian Sodiers” in session. How bizarre is that?

In the same month, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was accused of inflating his educational degrees.

Dealerships closing

April. The Chrysler Group slashed dealerships in a radical effort to cut costs. General Motors similary sought to eliminate dealerships. While I understand the concept of wanting dealerships to be profitable, I’m confused about how the number of dealerships affects the automakers.

Watson's home

May. Detroit Council Member Joann Watson paid only $68 in property taxes for years. Her neighbors paid between $2,000 and $6,500, but that didn’t stop Watson from evading her tax liabilities. She thought her “reduced” tax rate was due to her imagined tornado damage, or something.

Monica Conyers

June. Detroit Council Member Monica Conyers is indicted on bribery charges for the Synagro sludge contract with Detroit. Conyers pleaded guilty, resigned from Council, and is still pending sentencing.

Sam Riddle

July. Former Monica Conyers aide Sam Riddle was indicted for bribery in the same Synagro fiasco that did his former boss in. He was also charged, along with Mary Waters, with taking bribes from a Southfield jewelry store. That’s the same Mary Waters Riddle pointed a gun at after she caught him with another woman. Riddle has been in trouble with the courts for his updates about the case on Twitter.

Rich Rodriguez press conference

August. Before the start of the season, several University of Michigan football players alleged breaking NCAA rules by being required to practice more than allowed. At the press conference denying the allegations, head coach Rich Rodriguez appeared to tear up. The team finished the season with a record of 5-7 overall and a bottom-of-the-conference 1-7 in the Big 10. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) investigation into the allegations is still on-going.

September. During the Republican leadership conference on Mackinac Island, the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance (MTA) sponsored a debate with Republican gubernatorial candidates. At first, the MTA invited all candidates, then uninvited State Sen. Tom George. They said the problem was limited air time on the radio station that agreed to broadcast the debate. After complaints, the MTA re-invited George to the debate.

Kwame Kilpatrick

October. Former Detroit mayor and felon Kwame Kilpatrick sued his lawyer, Mike Stefani over the text messages that brought about the mayor’s downfall and perjury conviction. Even after serving his sentence and moving to Texas, Kilpatrick continues to embarass the Motor City.

Tina Houghton

November. As proof that Detroit is not the only place with law-breaking politicians, Lansing’s councilperson-elect Tina Houghton owes $3,300 in back taxes but signed an affidavit saying she didn’t owe the city anything. She signed the affidavit in May, when she became a candidate for council. At the time, she didn’t owe the taxes, but she later didn’t pay her summer property taxes. And she didn’t fess up to the electorate during the campaign, either. Shades of JoAnn Watson. There’s hope and change for you.

Another Republican gubernatorial candidate is in trouble. Besides Hoekstra exposing intelligence, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is backpedalling on the 2003 Manoogian Manson party investigation, which is tied to the Tamara Green murder investigation. Cox was unable to substantiate allegations of former Detroit mayor Kilpatrick’s legendary party at the mayor’s residence during which his wife, Carlita, is said to have hit Green, a stripper, for what she was doing with Kwame. With absolutely no one coming forth to substantiate the party, or provide details into Green’s murder, I’m having a hard time believing the legend is true, personally. That doesn’t change the fact it’s causing political problems for Cox even though Kilpatrick was a Democrat.

Nearly empty Ford Field

The biggest embarassment of November is the Detroit Lions, who saw their lowest attendance against St. Louis, with 40,857 at Ford Field. That’s only slightly worse than the 40,876 who attended the Lions game against DC in September. For the season, Lions attendance ranks 31st out of 32 teams. With a current season record of 2-13, don’t expect this to improve for Sunday’s game against the Bulls. Needless to say, there were a lot of blacked out home gomes.

Kilpatrick testifying

December. Kwame Kilpatrick returned to the D for a restitution hearing. Still not done dissing the Motor City, Kilpatrick unilaterally cut his restitution payments in June when his employer, Covisint, stopped advancing his pay. But wait, there’s more below the surface, and it came out during Kilpatrick’s restitution hearings.

And then there’s Hoekstra, again, blaming Obama for the al-Qaida attack over Detroit. Does this two-faced, non-expert, twittering twat not realize how idiotic he is?

For 2010: Let’s hope it’s a lot better than 2009. Happy New Year!


02 Jan 2010

Because these guys span the entire year, with certain high points, they didn’t make our year in review. But if I was going to do a top ten style list, they’d be right at the top for their buffoonery and the magnitude of their effects on Michigan.

Dillon and Granholm

Special Mention. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) has been virtually AWOL (away without leave) during 2009. Sure, she’s been physically present and huffed and puffed, with a little blamethrowing, but nothing of substance. In short, Granholm has exhibited a glaring lack of leadership, especially during the budget debates. In fact, her failure to be involved makes me think Pres. Obama must have turned her down for some big Washington job. I think she’s been bummed out all year.

Working hard not to be shown up by Granholm is State House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford). Despite not having the fiscal year 2010 budget settled, Dillon gave the House most of the summer off. When they finally came back to work, Dillon acted more like a Republican. First, he called Granholm’s September budget proposal showboating. Then he virtually agreed with every cut in the Republican-led Senate’s budget bills. Even then, some departments are still operating on “bridging” budgets rather than actual appropriations bills. Since constituents were against Dillon’s deal, there’s speculation the real deal has to do with 2010 elections. Dillon is considering a run for governor—a tragic error for Michigan if you ask me—and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) has announced his candidacy for state Attorney General.



  1. I can appreciate why you would include the dealership closings as an embarrassment for Michigan,however,I have to lay the blame on Obama.Strictly a political maneuver designed to punish dealers that didn’t support the DNC.This is of course disputed in the lefty world,however,no one can produce any valid reason for this action otherwise.The cost savings from dealer support such as training and auditing is a drop in the bucket and not a valid claim.I know of no business that benefits from reducing product exposure with the exception of collectibles or antiquities designed to increase price by limiting availability.At the end of the day,Michigan is being penalized along with the other states.

    Comment by 5etester — Sun, 03 Jan 2010 @ 12:56 pm

    • To be honest, the dealer fiasco never made any sense to me. And I’ve heard the same argument on politics. Another argument put forth is dealers representing competing (read foreign) brands. Not sure that holds water, either, since I’ve seen a Chevy dealer build a Hyundai store right next door.

      Thanks for your thoughts. I agree. We’re all being penalized. Closed dealerships mean more unemployment and the ripple effect that goes along with that.

      Comment by cynicalsynapse — Sun, 03 Jan 2010 @ 5:59 pm

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