Multi-million-dollar Michigan computer system continues to fail abused, neglected kids

March 19, 2019

Michigan Advance 

Derek Robertson 

[…]

Speaking after a Detroit Chamber of Commerce event on Thursday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer described an “incredibly frustrating” state of affairs, citing the unwelcome “carry over from the last administration [of Gov. Rick Snyder].”

“We are going to fix it,” Whitmer said. “I am confident [new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director] Robert Gordon is the man to do it. It’s incredibly frustrating for taxpayers, for me. But most importantly, very worrisome for kids who need protection the most.”

The Associated Press noted that roughly 10 percent of those children “experienced repeated incidents of abuse or neglect” in 2017, according to experts who reported this month to Eastern District Judge Nancy Edmunds as part of an ongoing, decade-plus oversight program that has cost the state $27 million.

View full article here

Butzel Long attorney Reginald Pacis featured during Philippine Nurses Association Annual Spring Educational Conference on April 13 in Troy

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel Long immigration law attorney Reginald A. Pacis will be a featured speaker during the Philippine Nurses Association (PNAM) Annual Spring Educational Conference on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at Troy Beaumont Hospital. Pacis will discuss immigration issues for nurses.

Pacis focuses his practice in immigration law and has handled a variety of immigration matters including H-1B specialty occupation cases, L-1 Intracompany transfers, Labor Certification matters, Immigrant Visa Petitions/Adjustment of Status applications and interviews, TN Free trade cases, H-1B Department of Labor Investigations, I-9 employer verification compliance, and U.S. Port of Entry airport and land port interviews.

Pacis was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve as a Commissioner to the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC), which helps address the needs and concerns of the Asian Pacific American (APA) communities in Michigan.

He was named Immigration Lawyer of the Year 2013 in the field of Immigration Law by The Best Lawyers in America and has been listed in Best Lawyers for several years. Pacis is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the Samahang Pilipino Ng Oakland Filipino organization. He served two consecutive one-year terms from 2003 to 2005 as Chairperson of the Michigan Chapter of AILA and was a member of the AILA National Board of Governors for those terms. Pacis previously served as Secretary (2001 to 2003) and Membership Chairperson of the Michigan Chapter of AILA (1998 to 2003).

Pacis earned a J.D. from the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University in 1996 and a B.A. from James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1992. He joined the State Bar of Michigan in 1997.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing and Shanghai. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Gov. Rick Snyder leaves mixed legacy in big Michigan cities

December 31, 2018

MLive

By: Emily Lawler

LANSING, MI — Tomorrow, Michiganders lose the state’s highest-ranking nerd.

Gov. Rick Snyder came out of the political hinterland in 2010 to sweep a Republican primary full of big names and later a general election by a large margin. On Tuesday he will vacate that office, handing it over to Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer won in part by campaigning hard in Flint and Detroit, cities that represent widely divergent results of Snyder’s approach to problem-solving that may become emblematic of his time in office.

Snyder broke onto the public’s radar in 2010 with a Super Bowl ad touting the moniker “One Tough Nerd.”

He touted his business experience on his journey to the governor’s office, and is not shy about spending time in details and data.

Throughout his tenure he seemed to sidestep partisan pushes, focusing far ahead on the state’s future while some pursued the here and now. And, never one for politicking, he seems unconcerned about what Michiganders think of him as he leaves office.

Asked about whether he feared the Flint water crisis, in which citizens were poisoned by lead leaching into their water, would cloud his legacy, Snyder said no.

“I don’t think about legacy,” he told reporters asking about it at a term-end roundtable on Dec. 11.

“That’s not why I sought this position or the honor I have holding this position,” Snyder said.

But in the waning days of his governorship, his legacy is already taking shape, and the mark he leaves on two of Michigan’s big cities factor into that.

Saving Detroit had ‘no political upside’

Detroit, once a beacon of high wages and advanced industry, faced issues like a declining population, rampant blight and corrupt officials, most notably ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, when Snyder took office. Serious financial problems in the city, and Snyder’s successful crusade to rectify them against political odds, would turn into a defining part of his tenure.

When he took office back in 2011, Snyder was already showing signs of interest in the state’s biggest city. In a major announcement in his first State of the State address he bucked Republican precedent and announced his support of the Gordie Howe Bridge, then known as the Detroit River International Crossing.

It was an early olive branch to a much-maligned city that would end up needing help from the full force of state government.

On July 18, 2013, the city of Detroit filed for the largest bankruptcy in United States history, supported by the governor and Kevyn Orr, the emergency financial manager Snyder had appointed.

Then-U.S. Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen mediated what came to be known as the “Grand Bargain,” leveraging philanthropic interest to save a big city asset — the Detroit Institute of Arts — and also settle with pensioners and the city’s creditors. Snyder, who used his clout throughout the city’s bankruptcy process, shepherded a $195 million appropriation through the legislature that helped seal the deal.

In a statement after the city’s plan was finalized and accepted by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes in 2014, Snyder celebrated the statewide embrace of Detroit the process had pushed to the forefront.

“People will long remember that when Detroit arrived at this troubling hour, its residents and leaders – with supporters statewide – started to pull together as one. Our state has rallied around its largest and iconic city. It is no longer Detroit vs. Michigan, but the embracing of Detroit, Michigan,” he said.

Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, remembers Snyder’s involvement in every step of the process bankruptcy process without regard for optics or politics.

“There was no political upside for the governor to be engaged in Detroit in the way he was… he really, truly did lead,” Baruah said.

The governor spent a significant part of his first term helping save the city, and a significant part of his second term championing its progress. He sent help from Lansing on things like a lighting authority, a regional transit authority and support for a new arena.

He touted the city on trade missions, encouraged former residents to come back and celebrated business milestones, like new investments in the city and occupancy rates driven by its new workforce.

And in 2018, his administration released the city from the last vestiges of state oversight. In a December roundtable interview with reporters he called Detroit “the most exciting urban area in America.”

Baruha credited Snyder for his work in the city’s bankruptcy.

“If it weren’t for Governor Snyder’s actions, who knows what kind of shape Detroit would be in,” he said.

But woven throughout that timeline of successes for Detroit were the beginnings of a problem that would loom large over Snyder’s legacy: The Flint water crisis.

Flint finds flaws in emergency management

The emergency management system that had helped shape Detroit’s success was also at the root of a public health emergency state government failed to respond to swiftly.

For four decades, Flint had relied on Detroit to provide Flint’s drinking water. In 2013, then-Flint Emergency Financial Manger Ed Kurtz made the decision to switch water sources, a money-saving move. The plan became to use the water from the Flint River for two years, then switch to a new pipeline under construction. The switch to the Flint River was made in 2014.

Immediately, complaints started pouring in from Flint residents who said the water was discolored, it smelled, it was causing rashes and other other health problems. Some were at unofficial, like on social media. Others were filed formally with Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office. Even when scientific evidence started piling on top of those complaints, the Snyder administration initially cast doubt on it through the Department of Environmental Quality.

Even after the administration recognized the crisis as a crisis, Snyder initially struggled to get his arms around it — something critics attributed to his focus on spreadsheets and the bottom line, along with the governing philosophy and culture he had fostered.

It wasn’t until January 2016, more than a year after residents started complaining and months after research revealed that lead was leaching into the water, that Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint.

And it’s the part after the state delved into the crisis that Snyder focuses on — things like getting the city resources and putting a stricter lead and copper rule in place for drinking water.

“The Flint water crisis was a terrible thing that happened. We put a lot of response into it, though, and in fact we’ve done some things to show national leadership… so again, it was a tragedy and people suffered, but again, how can we be better and stronger in the long term as a state, and hopefully help our nation?” Snyder said.

During the Flint water crisis he took a lot of flak for running the state like a business — something he hit back against in the roundtable with reporters at the end of his term.

“I’ve never run it like a business, because the motive is not profit. The motive is to help people,” he said, citing his work on the Detroit bankruptcy as the best example of a time when he’d done that.

Asked about Snyder’s legacy, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said they had worked together on things like public safety, personal property tax and Healthy Michigan. But for him, Flint overshadows that.

“I think unfortunately the way they handled in the beginning, in the middle and in the end of Flint water makes it very difficult for me to have any lasting amount of respect. …. You can’t lie to people over and over again and continue to lie to people as you walk out the door and have much respect from me,” Ananich said.

Economy, civility leave a mark

While the state’s urban centers have helped shape how people view him, so too has the state’s economy more generally. Business and the economy were solidly in the governor’s wheelhouse, and he put in a lot of work on what he calls “Michigan’s comeback” as the state emerged from the national recession.

The state has created 560,000 private-sector jobs during his tenure, he said, and unemployment went from 10.4 percent in 2011, his first year in office, to 4.6 percent in 2017, the last year in which full-year data is available.

And he did it all while not conforming to political norms or expectations. He made an initially unpopular case for expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, and got it through the Republican-led legislature. Today, the Healthy Michigan program they created covers more than 680,000 Michiganders, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The governor’s successes dovetail with something not every politician has: His mantra of “Relentless Positive Action.”

He has repeatedly called for civility, including in a speech at the Mackinac Policy Conference earlier this year.

“My greatest concern for our nation is the lack of civility that we have. How can you be the world’s greatest country if you can’t get along with yourself?” he said.

Even under grueling circumstances, Snyder doesn’t raise his voice, at least publicly. He doesn’t dabble in the mean-spirited, and isn’t concerned with taking credit for big accomplishments or blaming other people for big losses.

“He was always as advertised. He was a self-proclaimed nerd who was always focused on being optimistic and working on the next problem, was always positive towards other people, never engaged in negative talk about other people,” Baruah said.

“It was a delight to work with a public executive with that kind of approach.”

Throughout his tenure, he’s shown a streak of individuality in handling everything from big agreements to political gambles to unprecedented crises. This pattern makes it fitting that, as he leaves office, he would keep Michigander guessing as to what his legacy, and his next move, might be.

And even though he’s dismissive of looking backward at a legacy, he embraces the state’s progress and is hopeful it will continue under Whitmer.

“It’s been an exciting eight years. Michigan’s fundamentally a much better state than it was when we started,” Snyder said.

View the original article

Keeping You in the Know on Legislative Updates From Lansing

Legislative Update: Minimum Wage and Paid Medical Leave

The Detroit Regional Chamber has actively engaged legislators since the adoption of the minimum wage and paid medical leave initiatives in September. The Michigan Senate acted swiftly and deliberately yesterday to amend these policies and ensure that they work for Michigan’s employers. As the House of Representatives continues to deliberate this important legislation next week, the Chamber is encouraging legislators to ensure the bills address the unique needs of our state’s employers and support Michigan’s ongoing economic expansion and continued job growth, while honoring the will and intent of Michigan’s residents and the unwavering efforts of so many to enact these reforms.

Chamber Supports Riverfront Growth Through BIZ Reform

Earlier today, the Chamber testified in support of legislation (HB 5720) that would enable the continued growth and success of Detroit’s riverfront by creating a mechanism for a sustainable funding source through changes to Michigan’s Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) statute. The Chamber will continue to advocate in collaboration with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Downtown Detroit Partnership for this important tool to help keep the Rivertown neighborhood clean and secure for commercial and residential property owners, visitors and patrons.

Small Cell Digital Communications Legislation Sent to Gov. Snyder

A proposed law (SB 637) to provide a uniform regulatory framework for the deployment of emerging 5G wireless technology has passed the Michigan Legislature and is awaiting Gov. Snyder’s signature. The Chamber supported this important legislation, building on broader, ongoing efforts to maintain Michigan’s leading role in the development and implementation of next-generation mobility and autonomous vehicle technology.

Legislative Advances for Recent Federal Tax Reforms

This week, SB 1097 and 1170 received legislative action to avoid unintended consequences as a result of recent federal tax reforms. The Chamber is engaging with legislators and encouraging the passage of both bills, which address the definition of taxable income and the tax deduction limitation on pass-through businesses in order to maintain Michigan’s competitive business climate and ensure that employers are not inadvertently penalized through increased tax obligations.

 

 

 

 

Howes: Strong economy poses risks for next governor — whoever it is

November 5, 2018

The Detroit News

By: Daniel Howes

Michigan’s next governor will inherit something the state’s last three CEOs didn’t — the strongest economy in close to 50 years.

Job creation is up, unemployment is plumbing record lows and per-capita income is rising. State tax policy is once again deemed competitive. And for the first time in decades, Detroit is on generally solid financial footing, attracting billions in private capital and fundamentally changing the narrative of America’s poorest major city.

The challenge for Gov. Rick Snyder’s successor: don’t screw it up. Whatever you think of the Republican incumbent, he used the lessons of the “Lost Decade” over the past eight years to assemble a record of disciplined financial management and pragmatic problem-solving that reassured business and often transcended the partisan divide in a hyper-partisan era.

With the notable exception of the Flint water crisis, Michigan is on sounder economic ground than any time in at least a generation. Its auto industry is restructured and, for now, profitable. Its tech sector is growing. And its metrics of performance are consistently improving instead of declining as they did in the run-up to the Great Recession.

If history is any guide — and it usually is in this state — the most likely outcome of Tuesday’s election won’t so much mean more of the same, even if Republican Bill Schuette proves the polls wrong and wins. It’ll be what Business Leaders for Michigan’s CEO, Doug Rothwell, calls the state’s “consistent inconsistency” on the priorities and policy-making that impact investment, growth and job creation.

Meaning that whenever the out-of-power party regains the governor’s office, control of the Legislature or both, Michigan’s political tradition pretty much ensures that tax, spending and economic development policies are overturned summarily, whipsawing business by rewarding friends and punishing enemies. It’s not helpful.

“The Lost Decade was not an accident,” said Patrick Anderson, CEO of the East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group. “We lost that decade. It was a self-inflicted wound. It wasn’t just bad conditions. It was bad management.”

His counsel for whoever succeeds Snyder: first, do not undermine the dramatic improvement in Michigan’s business-tax climate, now ranked in the top 10 nationwide. Second, do not succumb to the budget brinksmanship of the Granholm years, including the occasional middle-of-the-night tax increase. And keep the momentum going on Detroit.

“Don’t fall back into the old, poisonous ways,” Anderson added. “Then we’re going to be signaling that we’re slipping back into the kind of incompetence and self-defeating activity that marred some of Michigan during the Lost Decade.”

Detroit is undergoing an unmistakable rebound. Credit the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy, which Snyder ordered. Credit business and political leaders in both parties who coalesced behind an agenda of reinvention. Credit private capital driving the resurgence — billions of dollars invested in the old bones of downtown and Midtown under a pragmatic mayor who understands business as well as politics.

And that’s precisely the balance Schuette or Democrat Gretchen Whitmer should emulate upon taking office. They can either build on the bipartisan economic consensus crafted by business, by philanthropy, by Snyder and Mike Duggan — two comparatively nominal partisans with a bias for focusing on what works.

Or the next governor can muck up Michigan’s mojo and alienate half the state and much of the business community by reversing reforms to reward their favorite constituencies and score ideological points, whatever the dollars-and-cents impact to Michigan’s budget and business climate.

Case in point: Whitmer and fellow Democrats running for legislative seats vow to repeal the state’s right-to-work law, to repeal the so-called “pension tax” levied on defined-benefit payouts of public-sector retirees, to reinstate the Prevailing Wage Law. And Schuette promises yet another tax cut, even as Michigan’s roads crumble and education funding mostly flatlines.

An alternative favored by some of the state’s leading business groups is to continue practicing the fiscal discipline favored by Michigan’s current CEO-turned-governor. To continue paying down long-term debt; to continue delivering balanced budgets on time and without drama; to maximize the tax base without discouraging investment.

“That positive flywheel is working,” said Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We certainly don’t want that tinkered with.”

And continue to avoid the Trump-era polarization defining politics in too many parts of the country. Snyder eschewed such extreme partisanship, preferring to practice a “relentless positive action” that enabled big things (see the Detroit bankruptcy) considered too hard to tackle.

Michigan’s next governor should take care to avoid breaking what’s already fixed. The second half of the past 16 years proved two things: that governors don’t cause macro-economic recessions, and that undisciplined, anti-business financial management at the state level tends to make the predicament worse.

Business cycles don’t conform to electoral cycles, as Granholm could attest. Her successor’s tenure coincided with the longest year-over-year sales and profit expansion for the Detroit auto industry since the 1960s, as well as the longest national economic recovery the country has seen in decades.

Snyder’s successor may not be so fortunate. Even as it reported surprisingly strong third-quarter results, General Motors Co. last week confirmed plans to offer buyouts to 18,000 salaried employees and signaled that rising interest rates and trade uncertainty are combining to create an industry slowdown.

Ford Motor Co. is deep in a global restructuring that is expected to claim a slice of its global salaried workforce. As the Federal Reserve continues to raise rates, equity markets are telegraphing uncertainty and worries that corporate earnings mostly have nowhere to go but down.

Major challenges loom for the state. The educational attainment of its public school students is a national embarrassment, worsening as most other states improve. Repairs to its roads and transportation infrastructure are desperately needed, but the legislators in the state that put America on wheels can’t — won’t — figure out how to pay for it.

Making headway on those and other serious issues won’t be accomplished unilaterally, no matter who prevails in this election. It’ll take consensus and a lot less worrying about who gets the credit.

View the original article here

Spotlight On Talent: Rick Snyder

By Gov. Rick Snyder

As we continue to maximize Michigan’s momentum, a critical focus on talent development is key. We’ve achieved remarkable growth, but sustaining that growth depends on our ability to build an education and talent system that creates long-term, high-paying careers for Michiganders, breaks down barriers to employment, and shows employers that Michigan is the place to grow and invest in.

There’s a talent crisis facing our nation, and in Michigan, we’re doing something about it. We recognize the rapidly changing workplace and growing demand for talent, which is why we’re leading the charge in preparing residents for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Through the Marshall Plan for Talent, we’re breaking down silos and forging revolutionary partnerships between educators, employers and others to transform our talent pipeline and fill the more than 811,000 job openings in fields facing a critical talent shortage.

In many ways, there are antiquated perceptions about learning and how best to deliver a quality education and skills training. Sometimes, this prevents us from helping our young people find the learning and career paths that best suit them. That’s why we’ve dedicated $100 million through the Marshall Plan to innovative programs, including competency-based certification, assistance for schools to improve curricula and classroom equipment, scholarships and stipends, and support for career navigators and teachers.

Since the launch of the Marshall Plan just seven months ago, we’ve seen tremendous support among employers and educators from across the state. Efforts by schools and businesses that were already partnering to accomplish great things are quickly accelerating, and new partnerships continue to form. In September, the application process began for education and business leaders to apply for more than $59 million in Marshall Plan grants to pioneer solutions to close the state’s talent gap.

Just as educators should look at how they can transform the learning process, employers should change their requirements for hiring, recognizing that many in-demand skills can be acquired through certificate programs and lifelong learning – and that includes breaking down barriers to employment. At the state level, we recently removed the checkbox reading, “Were you convicted of a felony?” that precedes occupational and construction code licensing applications, as well as instructed all state departments to remove the felony question box on the state’s website for state employment. I strongly encourage private employers to follow suit to give second chances to those who are ready to work and already trained for the jobs that employers desperately need to fill.

In addition, we need to do a better job of promoting Michigan as the place to locate and grow your business. Michigan is the home for innovation, career opportunities and economic expansion, and we need to be louder and prouder about that. We have an incredibly talented workforce, and plenty more residents with great potential. By continuing to break down silos, we can help Michiganders find success while powering our economic future.

Collaborating for Michigan’s Future: A Personal Message From Gov. Rick Snyder

Dear Detroit Regional Chamber Member:

On behalf of the state of Michigan, I am honored to have served as your Governor over these past six and a half years. I strongly believe that businesses play a vital role in a healthy economy, employing hundreds of thousands of residents and contributing to local communities every day. I was proud that one of the early accomplishments of my administration was eliminating a burdensome business tax and replacing it with a tax system that protects businesses in their effort to grow. I was also happy to work collaboratively with local leaders to champion Detroit’s economic comeback.

As Governor, I have made the reinvention of our state a top priority. My administration has made fiscal responsibility, timely budgeting, and reasonable and fair tax systems a focus for getting our state’s fiscal integrity back on track. Caring for the health of our residents, educational achievement for our young people, and strong communities also have been key in making sure our residents are cared for, successful, and safe. Michigan’s revitalization is reflected in a growing economy, urban centers on the comeback, and an unemployment rate that is near its lowest level in 17 years.

But we are not done yet and we have our foot on the gas. We continue to work on reforms that will spur more economic activity and create more and better jobs for Michigan residents, as well as ensuring they have the education they need to put their talent to work in the careers of the future. Our current priorities include focusing on a 21st century education system, a 21st century infrastructure, and reforms to improve the fiscal health of our local governments. I also established the Building the 21st Century Economy Commission to develop a strategy for growth that will help new and existing industries thrive in our state. I am excited about the opportunities for continued success.

Thank you for your commitment to Michigan and Michiganders. We remain committed to creating and maintaining an environment that allows you to continue your success now and well into the future.

Sincerely,

Governor Rick Snyder

German Automotive Supplier Mahle Gets Up-Close Look at Michigan’s Automotive and Mobility Leadership

Showcasing Michigan as a major global automotive and mobility epicenter, MICHauto, in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), led a one-day tour of the region in March for 12 executives from Mahle, a leading global auto components supplier.

The tour highlighted the region’s research and development facilities, OEMs, advanced manufacturers, leading suppliers, education institutions and next-generation mobility testing assets.

“Working closely through the Michigan Mobility Initiative, this was the first opportunity to really leverage the Planet M campaign to tell the state’s automotive and mobility leadership story to a visiting group of executives,” said Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto.

“It was an opportunity for us to establish the perspective and potentially change perceptions that not only is Michigan an automotive capital because of its vast resources, testing sites and development work, but also it is a leader in connected and automated vehicle innovation,” he added.

The tour included welcome remarks by Gov. Rick Snyder and a tour of the University of Michigan Battery Labs, Toyota North America Technical Center, MCity, Lear Innovation Center in Detroit, TechStars Mobility and Shinola.

The tour was preceded by a presentation by John Maddox, CEO of the American Center for Mobility, and Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of the MEDC’s Automotive Office, who spoke on Michigan’s e-mobility economy.

Following the tour, attendees enjoyed networking during a strolling reception at the Detroit Regional Chamber, featuring remarks by Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility for the city of Detroit, and Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

View photos from the tour here.