You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 5:11 p.m.

Lieutenant governor hopeful Brenda Lawrence says the difference is clear between Bernero and Snyder

By Ryan J. Stanton

Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Brenda Lawrence told a small crowd of University of Michigan students today that she and Virg Bernero may be down in the polls, but expect to close the gap in the coming weeks by getting their message out to voters.

"There is a clear difference between these two campaigns," she said. "We are working, we're on Main Street, we know what the issues are because we live them every day as mayors. We're the outsiders. Then you have our opponent, who is an elitist, who has lived a life of extreme wealth."


Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence talks with U-M student Yesenia Harrison during a campaign stop in Ann Arbor today.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Lawrence, who has been Southfield's mayor for the last nine years, recently signed on as Bernero's running mate. Bernero has been the mayor of Lansing for the last five years.

Addressing a crowd of about a dozen members of the College Democrats inside the Michigan Union, Lawrence criticized Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder for being out of touch with working families. She said Snyder hasn't had any direct involvement "with the issues of our state."

"I tell everyone, when you're looking at voting for your next governor ... follow the jobs," Lawrence said. "Virg Bernero, as mayor of Lansing, has over 6,000 new jobs that have been created. Our opponent, as the CEO of Gateway, not only eliminated jobs to fix his budget, but he outsourced them to another country."

Lawrence pondered the possibility that Snyder would do the same as governor. "Maybe when you call the state capitol, you'll get someone in China — I don't know," she said.

Before arriving in Ann Arbor this afternoon, Lawrence visited Beezy’s Café in Ypsilanti, where she listened to local residents talk about the challenges they face as middle-class people in a tough economy. Lawrence discussed the Democratic ticket's "Main Street Agenda," a plan to shake up the state capitol and "fight for real people on Main Street."

One student asked Lawrence today what the difference was between her and state Rep. Brian Calley, R-Portland, Snyder's choice for lieutenant governor.

"He is in Lansing right now. He's an insider. He's part of the problem," Lawrence said. "Other than that, I really don't know what he brings to the table."

Esquire Magazine named Lawrence one of America’s “hardest-working” mayors, and Crain's Detroit Business named her one of Southeast Michigan’s "most influential women."

She said both she and Bernero have delivered balanced budgets on time — without raising taxes and without laying off employees — every year they've served as mayor. Both also have cut government and managed their budgets so well, she said, that their cities are among only a handful of major cities in the state to earn a AA-plus credit rating.

Lawrence also touched on the economy and jobs today. She and the students discussed restoring funding for the Michigan Promise scholarship.

"We feel education is an economic stimulus — that if you get the education piece going and get it right, then you will have the opportunity to build the economy and create jobs," she said. "One of the things Virg is very passionate about is refunding the Michigan Promise."

Lawrence also said there's a direct correlation between prison populations and lack of education. "So we have been spending a tremendous amount of money imprisoning people, where statistics have shown us that if people — at a minimum — get a high school education, they don't end up in jail," she said.

Lawrence said her first introduction to Bernero was a couple of years ago when he called her up and asked her to sign on to the Mayors Automotive Coalition, a national group of local governments that lobbied Congress for a bailout for the U.S. auto industry.

"He called me up on the phone and he said, 'Mayor, would you go with me to Washington and to Congress to fight for the auto industry?'" she recalled. "I said, 'Absolutely,' and I walked the halls of Congress with Virg Bernero. This man was tireless in his leadership, he was passionate, and this is a time when a lot of people were just frustrated and going, 'Oh no, it's the end.'


U-M student Zachary Martin shakes hands with Lawrence during her stop on campus today.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"He got the label during that time as the angriest mayor in America because he was relentless," she added. "When he believes in something, he fights for it."

Lawrence called small businesses "the key to revitalizing our economy." She spoke proudly of the spirit of entrepreneurship in Michigan and said removing barriers to economic development and investment by small businesses is a top priority.

"One of the things I always say is broken in Detroit is the bureaucracy of economic development," she added in response to a question by one of the students. "I can tell you horror stories I've heard from developers who want to develop or invest in Detroit, and they can't get through the red tape."

Lawrence said Snyder would work to eliminate unions as governor, which she said further demonstrates how out of touch and ignorant he is about organized labor.

"You have to find a way to work to build an economy here in Michigan with our unions," she said. "And he has said that if Right to Work comes to his desk, he's going to sign it. Well, I am not ashamed of the accomplishments and the contribution that our unions have made to Michigan."

Lawrence spent time today asking the students about issues they see facing the state and the future they envision for Michigan. Students expressed concerns about a perceived decline in quality of education due to cuts to K-12 education.

Nina Bhattacharya, vice chairwoman of the College Democrats, told Lawrence not to forget higher education when considering investing in Michigan's future.

"I feel like so often that's overlooked," she said. "When the Michigan Promise scholarship was taken away, that really did hurt a lot of people because there's enough of us whose families make enough to not receive financial aid from the federal government, but are still not making enough to pay for tuition, and so the Promise scholarship was something that was achievable."

Students said they're in agreement with continuing the state's film tax credit program. Snyder has said he wants to eliminate incentives for the film industry in Michigan.

"Obviously, the jobs that the film industry is bringing in is huge," said Brendan Campbell, chairman of the College Democrats. "But I think it's also really important to have a local pride, a sense of enthusiasm about the state of Michigan."

Zachary Martin, who heads up the College Democrats' education committee, told Lawrence he's tired of short-sighted budget decisions being made by state leaders in Lansing.

"There's just this tremendous amount of short-term, reflexive cutting that ends up costing more in the long-term and there just seems to be no rationale behind it," he said. "There's movement to cut education despite the fact that that hampers economic development, and that, to me, is the biggest issue I've seen in government over the past couple of years."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.

Snarf, What filings are you looking at? Do you think if Target adds a new position that it would be some sort of public database in Lansing? These new hires can be at existing businesses just like the shrinkages can occur at existing businesses that cut their labor force from 30 workers to 20. The federal government has two employment surveys. One is where the unemployment rates/labor force participation rates come from. The other is where the "we added 100,000 jobs (net)" to the economy. These statistics are released on a scheduled basis so that politics do not weigh in. The numbers are useful to one side or the other in a debate. Quite often the numbers appear to contradict each other - especially to a lay person. So, the pundits just pick the numbers that support their point of view.

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

@donbee: "Wow! Lansing is growing jobs faster than rabbits! "First it was 3,100 then 5,100 and now over 6,000 jobs. "Searching the annual filings from Lansing, I have trouble finding 1,500 real new jobs over last the5 years of filings. "I look forward to someone providing some breakdown of these jobs, I sure can't find them.".. taht takes investigative/digging repoerting... and then woeuld be accused of more 'tilt/bias/prejudice'.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

For the stats and research on how huge a problem the traditional Summer break is for low and moderate income students and why President Obama's Secretary of Education is against the traditional Summer school break, see my comment on March 13 in the following article:

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

Candidate Brenda Lawrence stated: "Lawrence also said there's a direct correlation between prison populations and lack of education. "So we have been spending a tremendous amount of money imprisoning people, where statistics have shown us that if people at a minimum get a high school education, they don't end up in jail," she said." So, since the evidence is in that the main cause of the low and moderate income children falling behind in school, failing to learn how to read, getting bad MEAP scores and then dropping out, is the traditional Summer break, then is she going to advocate year-round schooling, like she should? The fact that 21-23% of our students become functional illiterate adults (and many of them end up in prison) is a huge problem that is dragging our state down! For background and the scientific research on this issue see my prior posts which will be in the next post.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:25 a.m.

If you call sending jobs to TAIWAN and selling out your company for huge profits for yourself good leadership then go ahead and support RICK.

Jay Allen

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 7:34 a.m.

I am sorry Ryan and briegel, but if you sit and weed back through the articles and the WAY they are written, Macabre Sunset is spot on. Just Sayin'. Now when all else fails in politics, you slam the other person. You say negative things about your opponent. The left is in serious trouble and this is just the beginning.

Steve Pepple

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

A comment has been removed because of name calling.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 5:42 a.m.

Bernero should be back in the 70's when bullying by the unions was in. If you want another dead zone like Jenny's vote away for both of them. Its time we had leadership that knew what a budget was and knows how to get things done These two are not the ones. Rick will get it done and Michigan once again will move forward. Most voters welcome a breath of fresh air. We have waited too long.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 1:26 a.m.

MyOpinion, While the information you point out is interesting, it is actually from the 3rd quarter of 2009 not 2010. I am not going to comment as to whether this site is pro Bernero or Snyder because I do not have proof one way or the other.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 11:06 p.m.

Don Bee The QWI Online reports at the following link shows jobs created in the last quarter (and the average for the year). According to the report, Lansing/E.Lansing had 5,833 jobs in the past quarter. But, and it is a big but, the net jobs flows for the last quarter are negative (-6,765). However, take a look at a healthy place like Austin, TX and you'll see negative job flows there as well. Definitions: Job creation: The number of new jobs that are created by either new area businesses or the expansion of employment by existing firms. Net job flows: The difference between current and previous employment at each business.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 10:13 p.m.

Wow, Ryan Stanton has posted a positive comment about union workers. A story all by itself worthy of comment. And seemingly giddy about being accused of unbalanced coverage. Making promises too! LOL. Remember these quotes from Mayor Lawrence or Lt Gov Lawrence (I doubt it) when this city enlists it's favorite blogger to post propoganda to further the bashing of it's unionized workforce again. Real words from a real mayor.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 9:35 p.m.

It'd be great to see an open debate between Brenda Lawrence and Brian Calley, along with a point-by-point comparison of where the two gubernatorial lieutenants stand on various state issues. That would go a long way toward differentiating the directions of Michigan's political parties. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if Calley turns out to be even less interested in debating Lawrence than Rick Snyder is in meeting with Virg Bernero.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

The film incentive thing is crazy & Mayors Bernero/Lawrence are crazy to support it. If Michigan gave EVERY business a 7% DECREASE in their Michigan Business taxes, it would be the equivalent of what the State is paying to film companies annually (according to Department of Treasury data). It sounds cool to have a film come here, but I think most business men & business women & their employees (and our future kids) would rather have 7% more in their pockets.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 8:25 p.m.

Wow! Lansing is growing jobs faster than rabbits! First it was 3,100 then 5,100 and now over 6,000 jobs. Searching the annual filings from Lansing, I have trouble finding 1,500 real new jobs over last the5 years of filings. I look forward to someone providing some breakdown of these jobs, I sure can't find them. The other problem we saw in Ann Arbor was the announcement of "X" number of jobs does not always mean that many appear. Look at Google here in Ann Arbor.

David Briegel

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 7:09 p.m.

Macabre, I don't know where you've been but the vast majority of those who have followed this coverage have strongly felt the "love affair" between and Rick. It was downright fawning! Now that it is becoming more balanced you object. What do you want, Rupert Murdoch Snooze?


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 6:09 p.m.

Supporting the film incentives is enough to get my vote. I believe this has been a very successful program to Michigan and Ann Arbor in particular. My business has new revenue at a time when we are lucky to hold onto old business.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

Newspapers often have an ombudsman to look at coverage and see if there's bias leaking into stories. The Ann Arbor News had one at one time, I don't see any listed on your blogroll now. I do get the impression, from every story you and Nathan have written since the primaries were decided, that you two are determined to help Bernero in any way you can. Right down to the manufactured chicken-suit piece. What I'd like to see is a blog policy banning reporters who plan to vote from covering political races. I'd also like to see a sourcing policy - when a candidate cites a source, that citation is accompanied by a disclaimer explaining the funding or bias of that source. It's not just about equal time. It's about doing everything you can to eliminate bias. We have an unusual situation here in that the Democrat is down about 25 points in the polls, but Michigan is, lately, a reliable Blue State. So it's going to get ugly from that side because a win is still possible, but it's going to take some considerable mud-slinging. Please don't join that campaign.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 4:46 p.m.

@Macabre Sunset We have been accused of being biased toward Rick Snyder as many times as we've been accused of being biased toward Virg Bernero, so I'll take that as confirmation that we're being fair in giving equal time to both campaigns. If and when Brian Calley makes a similar appearance in Ann Arbor, there will be a similar story on his visit. That I can promise.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 4:31 p.m.

Could you guys at least pretend not to be in love with Bernero? These daily love stories are getting a little sickening. A speech to twelve people is not news. Probably the same twelve people who dressed up in chicken suits yesterday, including Bomey and Stanton.