Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 25, 2010

Analysis: Bernero ad passes sniff test

By the Center for Michigan
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QUESTIONABLE STATEMENTS

"Virg Bernero as Lansing mayor cut government nearly 20 percent and brought in half a billion in new investment, 6,000 new jobs."

The number of Lansing city employees has been cut by 14.7 percent since 2006, the year Bernero took office, according to city budget documents. But the city general fund budget is down just 1.7 percent since 2006.

Lansing Economic Development Corp. figures show 5,311 new jobs were created in the city by new building projects from 2005 through 2009. Another 1,722 existing jobs were retained by these projects. Lansing saw $571 million in new private investment in the same time period. The Lansing EDC does not disclose 2010 investment figures until the end of the year because some of the announced projects might not occur, said Lansing EDC President Robert Trezise.

"Cut pay for legislators and the governor. Link pay to performance."

Handing lawmakers and the governor a pay cut wouldn't do much to save the state money.

The governor's pay is set at $177,000, but Gov. Jennifer Granholm gave back 6 percent of her salary last year to the state treasury.

And it costs taxpayers about $100 million a year to fund the Legislature, less than 2 percent of the general fund budget.

Bernero doesn't say what performance measures should be used in determining the pay of the governor and lawmakers.

Such a pay-for-performance system would be difficult to implement. The pay of state officials is set by the state officers compensation commission, which meets every two years.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

Bernero's ad attempts to tap into voter discontent with government and lack of jobs: "Angry? You bet I'm angry because I've seen the pain people are feeling, and it's fueling me to do more for Michigan."

But Bernero also cites some of his accomplishments as mayor and says he'll "shake things up" by proposing to cut the pay of lawmakers and the governor.

Bernero, who has been dubbed "America's angriest mayor," needs to show voters that he's not so angry he's likely to have a stroke.

And he needs to begin building a relationship with voters, who polls show prefer his Republican opponent, Rick Snyder.

This 30-second ad is a step in those directions.

MICHIGAN TRUTH SQUAD CALL

No foul. The ad does not make any significant misstatements of fact and refrains from making scurrilous attacks against Snyder.

By the Center for Michigan, a centrist think-and-do tank founded by former newspaper publisher and University of Michigan Regent Phil Power.