Friday, October 13, 2006

DeVos Slams Granholm In Public

Dick DeVos
Remarks at the Detroit Economic Club
Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to join you all here at the Economic Club. And thank you to the Michigan Chronicle for also sponsoring this forum.

Let me cut right to the core.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking about the job that Jennifer Granholm has done and you’re not happy. In fact, you’re concerned about Michigan’s future. You’re worried that four more years of the same policies could mean four more years of hard times. You like the governor, but you just don’t know whether to trust her to run state government for another four years.

At the same time, you’re not sure about me. You’ve seen my commercials. You’ve heard that I am successful business person. You know that I disagree with Governor Granholm on many of the key issues facing Michigan, that is, except for Proposal 2. We both agree banning affirmative action sends the wrong message about Michigan.

But what you’re not sure about is where I will lead Michigan as governor. You want the answer to the question, what will he do that’s any different? I am here to tell you: Plenty.

Here are the first ten action steps I will take New Year’s Day, after taking the oath of office.

First, I’ll take charge of the MEDC and Michigan’s economic development myself. For too long, Michigan’s governor hasn’t been personally engaged in making the case for Michigan. The buck will stop at my desk and I will be on the front lines, getting the job done.

Second, I’ll call an immediate special session of the legislature in order to find a replacement for the Single Business Tax. Our goal will be a simple, fair, broad-based tax that is competitive with other states. And while we’re at it, we’re going to see if we can replace the personal property tax too, and I won’t let them go home until the job is done.

Third, I will send a supplemental budget to the legislature that increases funding for higher education and creates a merit pay program for teachers. In my administration, improving our schools will be the key to improving our economy. And to those who say where’s the money? I say we can find $1 billion in the education bureaucracy that we can invest in the classroom and in teachers – great teachers who will help our children succeed.

Fourth, I’ll sign an executive order creating one-stop shopping for small business, slashing permitting time to 30 days, cutting red tape, solving problems and speeding job creation.

Fifth, I will convene a meeting of my cabinet and give them this simple instruction: If an action creates good jobs do it. If it hurts job creation, don’t. Every decision in every department must be evaluated in the context of spurring our economy and creating jobs.

Sixth, I will launch a “Made in Michigan” initiative, starting with a trade office in Japan to serve as a gateway for Michigan companies wanting to do business in the Asian marketplace. The Japan trade office will be the first of ten trade offices we’ll open in the first year.

Seventh, I will invest in consistently promoting Michigan as a tourism destination. Every dollar invested in tourism promotion returns at least three dollars in tax revenue, not to mention the jobs created. That’s a good investment I will make on day one.

Eighth, I will direct the Lt. Governor, Ruth Johnson, to immediately begin a top-down review of every department and program in state government. Her mission – eliminate programs that are no longer necessary and shape up programs that aren’t giving taxpayers their money’s worth.

Ninth, I will personally visit the Department of Human Services and meet with employees who are struggling to meet the needs of children who are victims of abuse. I will make a promise to them to provide the resources and the leadership so they can do their job to protect Michigan’s most vulnerable children.

And tenth, but just as important as the first nine, I will meet with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and I will tell him that Detroit’s success is critical to Michigan’s success. This city faces great challenges, and I am ready to stand shoulder to shoulder (or maybe eyeball to shoulder) with Mayor Kilpatrick to get this city moving in the right direction. For example, this governor will finally get the job done when it comes to creating a regional transit system!

I will also make this commitment to Mayor Kilpatrick and mayors across Michigan – together, we’ll put 500 more police on city streets by the end of the year.

Those are just ten steps out of the hundreds of actions we will take to change Michigan, to turn Michigan around, to make Michigan the state of opportunity we know it can be – a state where our children can get a world class education and a world class job.

Here’s a guarantee you can take to the bank – we’ll make more change and get more done in the first 45 days than Governor Granholm has in 45 months!

I also make this promise – if I make a mistake or my administration messes up, I’ll take the blame. But I will also take immediate action to fix it!

Earlier this week, during the debate in Grand Rapids, I suggested that now its time to “fire the Governor.”

The jobs situation in Michigan is reason alone.

But there is a bigger more disturbing pattern of mismanagement on issues critical to our state. A Governor is one thousand percent responsible for the functions of state government. They’re the CEO. The buck stops at the top. We all know this.

Everyday the news is filled with the consequences of mismanagement of some of our most vital state services. The names tell the story: Patrick Selepak, Daniel Franklin, Anishia Moy, Ricky Holland, Rose Kelley, Isaic Lethbridge and Allison Newman.

I’ve been asked if I believe the Governor is responsible for these tragic events and my answer is yes.

You cannot solve a problem if you will not take responsibility for it.

This is not a personal attack, I don’t believe in those. But I do intend to attack the pressing issue of this campaign – and as it pertains to jobs, as it pertains to our cities, as it pertains to critical state services – that issue is management and leadership.

But let me be clear, if elected Governor, I expect you to hold me to the same standard of accountability.

If I had been Governor and the so-called mistakes occurred leading to the release of Daniel Franklin and Patrick Selepak, leading to them going on killing sprees that resulted in the murders of six people – immediate corrective action would be taken, and the Director of Corrections would be fired. Period.

People may call that harsh.

But that’s leadership.

If I had been Governor and the so-called mistakes occurred that led to the deaths of Anishia Moy, Ricky Holland, Rose Kelley,Isaic Lethbridge and Allison Newman – immediate corrective action would be taken and the Director of Human Services would be fired. Period.

The fundamental issue of a person’s ability to run, manage and lead large complex organizations comes into question when the public is forced to witness this pattern of incompetence.

This pattern however is not new to our Governor.

While leading the Wayne County Corporation Counsel’s office, Jennifer Granholm negotiated with the Department of Justice a remedy for the very real human rights violations that were occurring at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility. Jennifer Granholm herself told the public and federal authorities that her plan was in place and that the problems would be fixed in 7 weeks.

That was 1994.

Between that time and when she left to go to Lansing in 1999, several more children were sexually abused by workers. Whistleblowers who wanted to fix the problem reported the abuses directly to then-attorney Granholm’s office. Nothing happened and those staff members were terminated.

This is not leadership.

This is not a way forward.

The people of Michigan don’t expect their Governor to be perfect. But they do expect them to take responsibility and to fix problems. To be a real leader.

Sometimes good people, nice people, get overwhelmed. Sometimes nice people are not the right people for a job.

Michigan families are hurting and personal bankruptcies have reached an all-time high of nearly 90,000 in the past year. That’s a bankruptcy every 90 seconds of every business day.

Michigan is in a single-state recession – 45th in business climate, 48th in income growth, 49th in economic growth, 50th in hotel occupancy and 51st, or dead last, in growth of home values.

Ladies and gentlemen - you know the truth of what's going on across America -– 56.1.6 million new jobs nationally while Michigan lost 85,000, a drop in the unemployment rate to 4.6%, and the Dow setting records again. Michigan is out of step with the nation. We are no longer in a single state recession, we are now in a single state depression!

The day I take office will be the day we put that all behind us and take the first step to a new Michigan.

That day can’t come soon enough, because as other states have moved ahead, Michigan has been losing ground. Think about it -- are you better off than you were four years ago?

When it comes to education, with test scores down and class sizes up, the answer is no.

When it comes to safety, with 1300 fewer police officers on the streets, the answer is no.

When it comes to helping families, with more kids in poverty, more single moms on welfare and more families without health insurance, the answer is no.

When it comes to creating opportunities for the future, with higher education funding slashed and tuition skyrocketing – up 50 percent in just the last four years -- the answer is no.

When it comes to turning our economy around, with a net loss of 85,000 jobs and 105,000 manufacturing jobs lost, the answer clearly is no.

Many people ask me, ‘with all the challenges we face, why do you want this job?’

My answer is I don’t want to have the job. I want to do the job.

To me, turning Michigan around means taking the lead, making change happen.It means making government accountable to the people of Michigan, not special interests. It means taking responsibility for decisions and results. It means taking risks and being bold, making our dreams for Michigan a reality.

But this administration refuses to take the lead, denies responsibility and is clearly unable to be bold.

I kinda think the best description of Governor Granholm is the shoulda woulda coulda governor.
I shoulda done that, but the Republican legislature blocked me.

I woulda done this, but President Bush didn’t return my call.

I coulda done the other thing, but my special interest supporters told me not to.

On issue after issue, Governor Granholm is MIA and BSE – Missing in Action and Blaming Somebody Else.

But Michigan can come back. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. But it won’t happen if we don’t change.

If we need inspiration, look at the Detroit Tigers. They have succeeded against all odds because they were able to change. Most importantly, they changed their leadership and their attitude.

Just like the Tigers, Michigan has tremendous assets – talented workers, great universities, innovative entrepreneurs, historic companies, unmatched natural resources and more. What we need to go with those great assets is great leadership.

And just like the Tigers, Michigan can be a winner again. With new leadership and a new attitude, we can beat Ohio and Indiana in the fight for jobs. Join me. Join our team for change and on January 1st, a new chapter of Michigan’s success story will begin. Let’s get to work to put Michigan back to work.

Together, we’ll step up to plate and hit a home run for Michigan.

Thank you.

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