ESCANABA - Three weeks ago I reported the re-appointments of UP residents J.R. Richardson and John Madigan to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission were rejected by the Michigan Senate.
Madigan, Munising, was appointed to the Commission by Governor John Engler Oct. 8, 2002.
Richardson was appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm in 2007. He resides in Ontonagon.
Both gentlemen are serving terms due to expire Dec. 31 and are the only Upper Peninsula representatives serving on the NRC and are willing to continue serving as commissioners.
Madigan and Richardson have established themselves as successful businessmen. Both have been recognized for their individual efforts in conservation and are highly respected by the rest of the NRC Commissioners for their extensive background on Upper Peninsula natural resources management.
So why not accept them for re-appointment?
Michigan State Representative Mike Lahti, from the 110th District has issued a statement admonishing the senate's failure to re-appoint both Madigan and Richardson. Michigan Senator Mike Prusi has done the same.
In a response to a letter by a constituent asking for the confirmation of both Madigan and Richardson, Prusi noted that, "They have been caught up in a very partisan environment here at the Capitol. Even though both men are appointed as Republican members by the Governor, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop has refused to separate appointments and has led his caucus in voting to disapprove a large number of the governor's picks for various boards and commissions.
"He claims that these slots should be filled by the incoming governor in January and that Governor Granholm should defer in this matter. He conveniently ignores precedent set eight years ago by Governor Engler who made literally dozens of appointments after the election, not prior to as Governor Granholm seeks to do. These appointments were confirmed by the Senate."
Bishop currently serves the 4th District in Oakland County and is term limited. He failed in his attempt to become a Republican candidate for the office of Michigan's Attorney General.
Why would he want to cripple the qualified representation from the UP to the NRC?
Current NRC Commissioner Hurley Coleman Jr., of Saginaw, recently sited both Madigan and Richardson for their expertise regarding resource issues in the Upper Peninsula. He related how he relies on both gentlemen for their depth of knowledge and individual efforts in conservation.
You'd think that Senator Bishop would want to leave a legacy of being true to his constituents by making decisions in the best interest of all the citizens of Michigan, however it doesn't appear to be the case here.
Bishop has settled behind an obscure rule that allows the Senate to reject any appointments submitted after July by a seated Governor not up for re-election. In knowing that former Governor Engler negated the rule eight years ago, it is not difficult to now read between the lines and see raw politics at work.
With nothing to lose, Bishop can now evoke his power as partisan majority leader and work the system to dis-credit Governor Granholm's appointment list and leave it for the incoming Governor. It may be a qualified issue if the candidates weren't currently serving on the NRC or had not performed to the satisfaction of the citizens of Michigan. That is not the case with John Madigan and JR Richardson.
The duo has brought many natural resources priorities pack to the UP. They work well together and are involved in both business and conservation organizations within the UP.
Senator Mike Prusi suggested an alternative to debating Mr. Bishop on the floor of the Senate may by a grass roots letter-writing campaign as Governor Granholm has re-submitted her list of appointments. "It is a shame that fully qualified individuals are not even given a hearing and a chance to make their case. This is happening on university boards, vital commissions and a number of important oversight agencies. Perhaps a letter campaign to Majority Leader Bishop could change his mind. My arguments on the floor of the senate seem unable to do so.", Prusi said.
You can and should contact Senator Mike Bishop by letter or phone and insist he support the re-appointment of John Madigan and JR Richardson to the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. His office telephone number is (517)373-2417. His mailing address is S-106, Capital Building, P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536. Senator Bishop's e-mail address is: SenMBishop@senate.michigan.gov.
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.