Jeb Bush, done with politics, thinks a Democrat who preaches civility will win nomination

June 8, 2019

Detroit Free Press

Carol Cain

Washington is a “cesspool” right now and the landscape for the 2020 presidential contest promises to be “turbulent, chaotic and will define our country going forward.”

That’s the assessment from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose 2016 run was crushed by Donald Trump.

Bush was one of the headliners at the Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference, where he spoke to business leaders about education reform.

Bush said Florida’s gain as a state and improving reading levels and other metrics, (which started during his time as governor, was accomplished by focusing on early learning and literacy.

His state adopted a third-grade reading law that called for reading coaches to be hired for each school. He added that too many students aren’t reaching their potential because, “we don’t have the guts to say some things are working and some things are not. In this dynamic world we are living in, the lessons of Florida suggest we need dynamic policies to reflect it.”

Gretchen Whitmer, almost six months into her job as governor of Michigan, spent her first week at the Governor’s Summer Residence on the island the week the chamber’s conference was held.

The residence was built in 1902 as a summer cottage for Chicago lawyer Lawrence Andrew Young. Later the Hugo Scherer family of Detroit owned it, and then in 1944 the Mackinac Island State Park Commission purchased the home.

The residence, which has 12 bedrooms, has been used by Michigan governors to host events with national and state leaders. During the chamber’s conference, many of Whitmer’s department heads stayed there too.

Whitmer gave me a quick tour and talked about its history. Sen. John F. Kennedy visited the residence to talk with Gov. G. Mennen Williams to seek his support as he ran for president. She also pointed to a picture on the wall of the first car to drive across the Mackinac Bridge.

Speaking of building bridges, Whitmer, who signed a bill at the conference that changes to the state’s no-fault auto insurance, to the delight of business leaders who applauded as the two parties come together, is looking to the next challenge — fixing roads and infrastructure.

“We don’t have to look like Washington,” she said “We can focus on issues, compromise and get serious about things.”

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Business Leaders: Education Reform and Job Creation Will Help Michigan ‘Live Long and Prosper’

Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah and Education Attainment Manager Melanie D’Evelyn spoke at the Michigan Solutions Summit on Thursday, March 22 to share insight on the Chamber’s ongoing efforts towards education reform, job creation, and talent retention in metro Detroit. The event was hosted by Business Leaders for Michigan and Bridge magazine.

The More You Learn the More You Earn
D’Evelyn outlined Detroit Drives Degrees’ plan to increase the percentage of postsecondary degrees in the metro Detroit region to 60 percent by 2030. Currently, about 40 percent of Detroiters hold a postsecondary degree.

“Detroit Drives Degrees’ goal is to create an education compact and collaborate with different sectors (nonprofits, higher education, philanthropy) toward reaching a common goal,” D’Evelyn said.. “We want the public to hold us accountable.”

The compact’s work has already begun. Wayne State University (WSU) Provost Keith Whitfield announced at the summit that the university is creating a program that allows adults who left college to re-enroll without paying back the full amount of educational debt they accumulated. The idea is that the university will absorb some of that debt to encourage adults to focus on completing their degrees.

Whitfield also announced that WSU is investing in academic advisors to help current students succeed and building partnerships to offer more paid internships to students. Both Whitfield and D’Evelyn are hoping that other universities will see the benefits of these innovations and create similar programs.

Regional Collaboration Will Drive Job Creation
After D’Evelyn’s discussion on educational reform, Baruah, along with Dave Egner, President and CEO of the Ralph Wilson Foundation, and Kim Trent, Wayne State University Board of Directors sat on a panel to discuss how job creation and talent retention fit into the regional improvement puzzle.

Baruah addressed several roadblocks that currently hinder business growth and investment in the region that would, in turn, produce prosperous jobs to retain educated Michiganders. One such roadblock is a lack of connected, reliable regional transit.

“What is preventing regional transit? Essentially, two things: one, change is an issue of culture. People in Michigan love cars and grew up in the auto culture, and they don’t want that to change,” Baruah said. “And the second big issue is a lingering sense of distrust between Detroiters and suburbanites. People don’t want to pay higher taxes for a system they don’t think they’ll use.”

Aside from transit, the lack of qualified talent was another issue Baruah cited as preventing Detroit from attracting new business. He emphasized the region’s need to invest in talent, encourage people to go into the skilled trades, and repurpose money used to incarcerate non-violent criminals to reintroduce these individuals into Michigan’s workforce.

Both D’Evelyn and Baruah emphasized that collaboration between the public and private sectors is what will drive education reform, job creation and talent retention for the state and region. By working together, Detroiters can create a region where everyone can prosper.