Shady Groups Tied to MI Gov Snyder Undercut Transparency, Rule of Law


In one email, an assistant to Gov. Rick Snyder (R) promises to set a meeting between [Kevyn] Orr [Detroit's Emergency Manager] and someone “who is not FOIAble,” suggesting an intent to evade transparency laws. In another, Jones Day lawyers suggest to Orr that elevating Detroit’s bankruptcy in national media coverage would “give you cover and options on the back end to make up for lost time there.” Orr rejected that suggestion as unhelpful. Jones Day continues to represent Detroit in the proceedings, which could take a year or longer.

The assistant is Richard "Dick" Baird, the same adviser to our benevolent overlord Rick Michigan, paid by the NERD [New Energy to Reinvent and Diversify] fund - a Snyder-founded non-profit with shady underwriters - and was part of the working group for the infamous Skunk Works project, an anti-public education advisory team.

Two years after its creation, few details about the fund’s finances have emerged. But the recent revelation that two of Snyder’s advisers in the Capitol have spent time on NERD’s payroll underscores the need for more information. One, “transformation manager” Rich Baird, is part of Snyder’s inner circle and has an office right next to the governor’s. He has heavily influenced some of Snyder’s most controversial policy decisions — but Baird is paid by NERD, not the state.

To sum up, the last two days have produced evidence that Detroit's bankruptcy was, to these people, a foregone conclusion and that their chosen person for the job was skeptical of the law under which he'd be appointed because it was a clear end-run around the will of the voters. And, at some point, a Snyder adviser who was paid by a private slush fund suggested that the emergency manager meet with a member of the mayor's staff who is not "FOIAble," i.e. not accountable to Snyder's constituency. 


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