Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Facts about Michigan Governors

Here are some facts about past Michigan governors. Perhaps this will come of use some day in a trivia game. Or perhaps you're a nerd like Rick Snyder and me and just like to know some useless facts.

Here we go:

1. Steven T. mason (1836-1840): Our first governor

2. William Woodbridge (1840-1841): He blamed mason for all states problems, including the $400,000 budget deficet (which pales to Granholms $1.6 billion shortfall).

"Look, if you don't have it, don't spend it," Woodbridge advised. "And if a U.S. Senate seat comes open 14 months into your term, take it. Worked for me."*

3. J. Wright Gordon (1841-1842): Left the state after just 10 months as governor to take a diplomatic post in South America.*

7. Epaphroditus Ransom (1848-50): He was a no-nonsense guy from Kalamazoo who stressed good roads and low taxes. At the time, taxes in Michigan averaged 70 cents per resident.

"You have to keep reminding people that this is a relatively cheap place to live," Ransom suggested. "And you'd better keep it that way. Now, good roads do make it easier for people to leave, so I'd just keep moving the orange barrels around. Creates the illusion of improvements at a fraction of the cost."*

9. Robert McClelland (1852-53): He had the good fortune to be governor at a time, 1852-53, when Michigan was growing so quickly that its public debt was paid off and the state actually ran a surplus.*

"Growth will solve a lot of problems," he said. "But political extremists on either side will cause more. And if you get an offer to become secretary of the interior, take it. Worked for me."*

14. Henry Crappo (1865-1866): He was a lumber baron who was governor from 1865-68. "Say what you think, believe what you say, but talk very little -- and work unceasingly."*

21. Cyrus Luce (1887-90): When he left office Michigan had paid off every dollar of its debt.

"Look to the farms," advised Luce, a farmer who was a major promoter of Michigan agriculture. "People are not going to stop eating. You still got good dirt, lots of water. There's growth there, no pun intended."*

24. Hazen Pingree (1897-1900): Michigan was back in the red.

"I always liked the graduated income tax, but I couldn't sell it," said Pingree. "But then I also wanted to be governor and mayor of Detroit at the same time. Not sure I'd want either job today."*

41. G. Mennen (Soapy) Williams (1949-60): Waged running warfare with a Republican-controlled Legislature over taxes and spending.

"I guess I could have looked for more places to compromise," said Williams. "You've got to get your tax system right. But you've got to look out for the underdogs, too.

"I had about six weeks left on the job when President John F. Kennedy made me an assistant secretary of state. Worked for me."

46. John Engler (1991-2003): A republican.

47. Jenniffer Granholm (2003-2011): A democrat. She lead over a state that went $1.6 billion in debt, watched as the unemployment rate rose to 13.1 percent as a result of high taxes, high regulation,
and otherwise unfriendly environment for businesses. She also raised taxes and added service taxes in an attempt to ballance the budget. Her approval rating was the lowest of any governor in the U.S. at 37% by 2007.

In 2006 she said, "In five years, you're going to be blown away by the strength and diversity of Michigan's transformed economy". At that time Michigan's unemployment rate was 6.8 percent, in November 2009 it was 15.3 percent.

48. Rick Snyder (2010 to ?): A republican. No infomation yet available.


* Ron Dzwonskowski, Detroit Free press, Sunday, October 31, 2010, "Ghosts of governors past have advice for next one."
** Wikepedia "Jenniffer Granholm."

Perhaps a good book to read for more Michigan facts is Source material for this column came from a 1987 book, "Stewards of the State," by George Weeks.

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