Rich Perlberg, Executive Editor of the Livingston County Daily Press, was kind enough to answer my question on the endorsement of our opponent, such as what is this endorsement based this on and why you stopped doing endorsement interviews? He answered the first question, but did not answer the second one.
Just about every candidate from school board to U.S. Congress sits down for an endorsement interview, and certainly one as important as State Representative warrants one. The public thinks these endorsements are based on due diligence and research, but this proves it carries no weight and is meaningless. We felt we had little chance of getting the endorsement based on the make-up of the editorial board. But we expected the chance to make our best case that everyone before us had for many years, and like this entire election we are not conceding anything. Mr. Perlberg said they based the endorsement on mystery positions the paper has taken in the past. That is the very definition of bias.
I find it telling that for months we have seen constant TV commercials, news stories, and three televised debates from the two candidates for governor, yet the Lansing State Journal sat down with both candidates individually before it makes an endorsement. It was also televised on MGTV, and here’s a link. http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=video.
What did the LSJ Editorial Board expect to learn from the two candidates they didn’t already know? Why didn’t they just take the Press & Argus’s position? Yet Mr. Perlberg says he knows everything about Mike from the blog and one story in this newspaper. I beg to differ, and he knows nothing about Mike’s real-world private sector experience and personal integrity.
We also oppose Proposal 5 at this point. If you will recall at the debate, Mike said he generally favored it, but he does not want to link increases to the rate of inflation or link it to anything. He does not support the ballot issue in its present form, but he strongly supports public education. As he has said before, education will be the magnet that attracts and retains high-paying, high-tech and non-exportable jobs to Michigan. You would have found that out with the standard endorsement interview.
I have no idea where you got the mistaken idea that Mike “criticizes Mr. Ward for not doing more to close the school funding gap.” It did not come from this campaign. You may be referring to our blog entry where Mr. Ward was given the platform in your newspaper to falsely claim that Detroit schools are getting the money that should go to Livingston County schools. That tired, old trick of blaming Detroit has been played by suburban lawmakers for years, and it’s disingenuous by Ward at best. His party controls the House and he controls what the full House membership considers. How can he blame anyone else for not getting something passed when his party controls the House? But, he continues to do so. The money was set aside for all school districts that experienced student loss, and that’s the majority of schools in Michigan, except a few districts like in Livingston County. Student count has become extremely critical under Proposal A, and what happened in Hartland a few years really illustrates how damaging just miscalculating that number of students can be. After hiring a professional firm to estimate the number of new students expected the count was way off, forcing them to cut money from the budget after school had already started. Can you imagine the problems with just losing a few students?
I fail to understand how Oakland County legislators, which Ward is among, can block anything. There are 110 Representatives, and only 14, including Ward, are from Oakland County. Of those the majority, nine, are Republicans and five are Democrats. How can they block anything?
It seems to me that if you’re going to stick your neck out and make an endorsement and expect it to mean something you should do it properly. The newspaper provides a much-needed public service, and it’s a community treasure. However, you failed to uphold that tradition in this situation.
Fair question, guru. We do endorsement interviews when we need to know more about candidates or if we need to further delve into positions if it becomes difficult to make an endorsement. Sometimes they double as interviews for reporters doing stories. Mr. McGonegal appears to be a fine candidate, but his positions on issues differ significantly with this paper's past editorial positions. We have followed Mr. McGonegal through his campaign, his press releases, his web site, his answers to our web site questionnaire and his appearance at our candidate forum. You disagree, of course, but we are continually impressed with Mr. Ward's knowledge and skill in Lansing, even though we don't always agree with him. Our endorsements for office should coincide with our editorial stances on key issues. In that regard, we have consistently taken the position that Michigan must take control of the increasing costs of teacher health care and retirement issues. We also stand firmly opposed to Proposal 5, the K-16 proposal. We also have said that the state must correct the inequities in school funding that hurt our schools. In that regard, Mr. Ward's positions and actions are closer to our positions than is Mr. McGonegal. Mr. McGonegal, by the way, somehow criticizes Mr. Ward for not doing more to cose the school funding gap. That either shows a lack of understanding of the issue or is purposely misleading. Mr. Ward has worked hard to increase the county's funding but has been blocked by two strong opponents: Those lawmakers (of both parties) in districts (such as in Oakland County) that benefit from the inequities; and Gov. Granholm who directs school funds toward Detroit (a defensible position, by the way, but not one that helps our schools). Mr. McGonegal appears to be a fine candidate. But we don't think he is the better of the two candidates. Unless he was going to recant most of his basic positions, I'm not sure how an endorsement interview would change that.