Governor Snyder, the "Tough Nerd" Gets It. Period.
No Michigan governor since William G. Milliken (69-82) has embraced positive transformational change the way that Rick Snyder has. Governor Snyder's character speaks loudly as he continues to embrace the words of "Relentless Positive Action".
Whether it is his upbringing from a working class family in Battle Creek, or his love for Michigan; he has continues to take the high road when it comes to leading Michigan into the 21st Century. His continued positive action was communicated last week in his special message over public safety in Flint.
The message outlined many new policy initiatives that would take place at the State level to help alleviate crime in Flint, Saginaw, Pontiac and Detroit. However, unlike other plans that are developed to "fight crime", Governor Snyder took a different approach at improving public safety in Michigan.
The proposed changes to public safety ranged from helping ex-offenders find jobs to tackling truancy in schools to banning property auction sales to people who currently own blighted property.
You might ask, "Why as Michiganders, should we embrace this new, potential paradigm shift in public safety policy within our State?"
We should embrace this new shift because violence continues to become problematic within many of our urban centers along the I-75 corridor. As according to FBI crime data, Flint and Detroit ranked #1 and #2 most dangerous cities in the US. These are serious issues and if we are to move forward as a state, we must pay close attention to alleviating these problems.
How is this policy proposal different?
From the examination of his policy proposals, he tackles crime from a proactive approach, rather than the reactive approach of prior public safety proposals. Lowering truancy rates, helping ex-offenders find jobs and cleaning up blighted property are a few…
Why mention truancy in a public safety message? Truancy has been linked to serious delinquent activity in youth and to significant negative behavior and characteristics in adults. As a risk factor for delinquent behavior in youth, truancy has been found to be related to substance abuse, gang activity, and involvement in criminal activities such as burglary, auto theft, and vandalism. If you can tackle truancy, you fight crime in a proactive manner.
What about finding ex-offenders a job? Ex-offenders have difficulty finding permanent, unsubsidized, well-paid employment after release because they lack job-seeking experience, a work history, and occupational skills; furthermore, many employers refuse to hire individuals with criminal records. These circumstances seriously affect an ex-offender's stability because unemployment is consistently associated with high recidivism rates. If you find ex-offenders a job, crime rates go down.
And, why would anyone sell an individual that continues to create blighted property, more property? In 1982, James Q. Wilson, introduced a theory called, "Broken Windows". His theory mentions that if you monitor and maintain an urban environment in a well-ordered condition, then it may stop further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime. If you a window is broken, fix it. If you see graffiti, wash it off. If a house needs to be painted, paint it. If the lawn needs to be mowed, mow it. If a property is blighted, clean it up. Or, in the case of Governor Snyder, don't sell the blight violator more land.
Where else have these policies been successful?
Where have these types of public safety polices created improvement? New York, Boston, San Francisco to name a few. With the right leadership, they will also be highly effective in Michigan.
Governor Snyder's vision for public safety is fresh, bold, visionary and proactive. The ideas that he proposes have worked in many cities and States across the United States. He believes that a prosperous Michigan includes strong and safe urban centers. These proposals point us in the right direction for creating those safe urban environments.
Yes, his ideas reflect those of a "pragmatic centrist". However, his policy ideas will allow Michigan to win the race to the top, rather than a race to the bottom. He wants Michigan to look like Minnesota, not Mississippi.
Change does not come easy. But these proactive ideas dealing with public safety will help transform Michigan to become the land of prosperity again in the 21st century.
Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andy Rapp, Q-TV, Delta College, or PBS.