In an April 25, 2020 Michigan Capital Confidential article, reporter Dawson Bell shared the sentiments of Commissioner Derek King, who called out the double standard that allowed government workers to remain employed while restricting similar work performed by the private sector.
The full article, copied below, can also be found at this link.
[Dawson Bell for Michigan Capital Confidential, a publication of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.] Prior to Friday’s announcement that the state of Michigan will lift most restrictions on private sector landscapers, many landscapers had been growing increasingly anxious about the impact on their businesses. These locked-down workers and employers were also bothered by one segment of the industry that had been able to keep working: The businesses that have contracts to provide state government infrastructure.
Derek King, a Calhoun County commissioner and local business owner, saw this firsthand last week. Just several days after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tightened prohibitions on nongovernmental landscape workers, he saw a landscape crew near his home installing trees and spreading mulch at a bridge reconstruction project over the Kalamazoo River.
King posted his observations on Facebook, with the comment, “I just wanted to give a huge shout out to the State for the awesome job and attention to detail when planting these trees. ...”
In an interview, King said his comment was lighthearted and he is pleased that Michigan Department of Transportation’s contractors were allowed to keep working. But when state officials made an exception for state projects while banning all others, it seemed to him a bit like “thumbing their nose at all the local (landscape) contractors that are sitting at home.”
MDOT spokesman Jeff Cranson said in an email Thursday: “A lot of what MDOT contractors do that might be broadly considered ‘landscaping,’ is actually slope restoration, wetlands mitigation and other things that involve planting trees or something else to prevent erosion that leads to sediment getting into roads, waterways or drains.”
Much of the department’s landscaping work was suspended last week, he said, but the tree planting along M-311 in Calhoun County is considered slope restoration and erosion control.
According to the Michigan Department of Transportation website, road and bridge “contractors are deemed critical infrastructure workers and will proceed with state trunkline projects. Contractors have been briefed on the appropriate safety mentors to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
King said the latter assertion cannot be confirmed from his observation of the crew planting the riverbank trees: “I didn’t see much social distancing going on,” he said.
Nor is it obvious that the newly planted trees and mulch will control erosion, King said. Many of the trees planted on the site, he said, appear to serve as simple replacements for mature trees that were felled to accommodate bridge construction.
The more important issue, King said, is that contractors who have been working on substantially similar projects for private sector clients were prohibited from doing so.
“It’s a double standard for the government,” he said.
On Friday, Whitmer announced a relaxation of some pandemic-related restrictions, including bans on motorized boating, paint and garden sales – and landscaping, subject to “social distancing” protocols.
When the Calhoun County Republican Party needed a Chair of Outreach and Education, we looked no further than Terris Todd. Outreach and Education sum up Terris' mission in two fitting words. As a self-described man of God, Terris seeks to help others examine their values and to live in alignment with those values. In fact, aligning his life with his values is exactly how Terris found his way to the Republican Party.
"Serving five terms as a County Commissioner with a 'D' behind my name was never about my affiliation but more about answering the call to serve the community that raised me."
During his time of service as a commissioner, Terris began to notice a disconnect between who he was as a person and a Democrat agenda which conflicted with much of what he values and believes.
"Around the time of Obama's campaign for the presidency and into his second term, I began to see and understand that my values really aligned much better with the Republican platform which speaks firmly to my faith, family, and freedoms given by God."
Just 1 1/2 years after making the switch, Terris was elected Ethnic Vice Chair of the Michigan Republican Party. He is the first MRP Vice Chair to hail from Calhoun County.
Terris still serves as a Vice Chair with the MRP and as the Chair of Outreach and Education for the Calhoun County Republican Party, but that's far from all he's doing. He also serves as a member of the Cereal City Chapter of Blacks in Government and on the Michigan Republican Party African American Council to the Republican National Convention. Most recently, Terris was elected to the Board of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of Michigan.
"Helping people examine their values and live authentic lives of faith according to those values is what I'm all about. The Republican Party gives me the platform and freedom for doing just that and more."
When national political reporter, Elaina Plott, called from the New York Times asking to be introduced to Calhoun County Republicans, your local party went to work to make it happen.
By the end of the day, stay-at-home mom of four, Rachel Losey, and Realtor, Ryan Leonard, were interviewed, photographed, and a just a little nervous about how they would be portrayed in the paper. With the way the media attacks our President, what would they do to his supporters?
We're happy to report that Rachel and Ryan enjoyed their interviews and surprise photo shoots and said that they would welcome future opportunities.
"The journalist was very pleasant to speak with," said Rachel, "and the photographer was a very nice lady. She came to the house and took like 500 pictures."
To read the New York Times Article, click here.
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