By Carol Cain
Senior Producer and Host
WWJ-TV CBS Detroit’s “Michigan Matters”
Though he is working with Gov. Rick Snyder and his team, Lansing Mayor Virg Benero slammed the leader’s plans to improve the troubled state saying he has yet to see any sign of jobs being created from the fray.

“Before the election we both talked about jobs, jobs and jobs,” said Bernero, the Democratic challenger who lost to the Republican during taping of Michigan Matters. “Now all I hear from him is cuts.. cuts for cities, for schools. I don’t see investment, I don’t hear any talk of how this is going to create jobs.” “Where is the jobs plan?” Bernero said.

The kinetic mayor who has kept a low profile since losing the November contest, says he sees the governor regularly in Lansing.

“My job is to run the city of Lansing and find areas I can cooperate with this new administration. We need to try and make our cities vibrant.”

Bernero refused to grade the governor. “My wife is an educator and I leave the grading to her,” he said. But Bernero, who would not speculate on his own political prospects (he is up for re-election in 2013)  had a mouthful on Snyder’s plans for education and cities. “A city is only as good as its schools. When I see cuts to education and cuts to revenue sharing for cities he is cutting the rug out from under us.” Bernero agreed with Snyder there needed to be more consolidation in education but took issue with his proposed reduction in spending. “There is a surplus in school aid. Yet, he is proposing a per pupil cut. And for what? It’s like they are kicking us and then blaming us because we are lame?”

Mike Duggan, CEO of Detroit Medical Center and a card carrying Democrat, also appeared on the show and gave Snyder high marks.

“I started as a skeptic,” said Duggan. “I don’t agree with all he is suggesting but I deeply agree with his courage and direction. He has done a good job.”

Bernero mentioned the tax free zone idea for Detroit suggested last year  by former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

“If I was governor, I would be having more of those kinds of conversations,” Bernero  said. “I’d talk about adding things ‘Make it in Michigan’ where we’d have tax free zones. I’d be promoting Michigan. We should be playing up our manufacturing skills.

Denise Ilitch, University of Michigan regent, also appeared and questioned some of Snyder’s plans for education.

“What concerns me is his cuts,” said Ilitch. “We continue to perform poorly and have low graduation rates. Yet, we are cutting higher learning.”

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson also appeared on the panel and disagreed.

“We are pretty well funded. But that funding hasn’t translated into passing grades. I think the governor is on the right track,” Patterson said.

Taking the storm over education to another stage, Ilitch said she received hundreds of emails from people complaining  Snyder will be the commencement speaker at UM’s  graduation ceremonies taking place Saturday (tomorrow).

“I’ve never had that many emails on anything,” she said, adding one threatened to boycott her family’s Little Caesars stores as a result.

Ilitch, meanwhile, will present an  honorary degree to Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford during the UM festivities. Among others getting  honorary degrees: director Spike Lee and businessman Stephen Ross.
Carol Cain is senior producer and host of the Emmy winning Michigan Matters. You can read her columns on business and politics in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. You can watch Michigan Matters 11 a.m. Saturday on WWJ-TV CBS Detroit and it will be rebroadcast 11 am Sunday. She can be reached via email or 248-355-7126

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