A Democrat who’s running for governor says he wants to bring the office under the state’s open records laws. Shri Thanedar was in Kalamazoo on Thursday to speak to students at Western Michigan University.
Thanedar says Michigan gets poor marks on government transparency and ethics, because the legislature and governor’s office are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
“That’s just plain wrong,” Thanedar says.
“We hire them to run our state, and we as citizens must know what’s going on. There’s a lot of sweetheart deals get done in the backroom, with corporations,” he says.
Thanedar, an Ann Arbor businessman, has put millions of his own dollars into funding his campaign. He says he’s not well-known across the state and wants to reach people, while avoiding corporate influence.
“I have started out with putting my own money into it because I believe in and I’m very passionate about this. But I will certainly be collecting money from individuals, but I will not collect money from the corporations,” he says.
On Thursday, Thanedar criticized Governor Rick Snyder for promoting tax breaks as a way to lure business to Michigan. Thanedar says those incentives amount to giveaways to large companies at the expense of much-needed revenue.
Other issues that the candidate discussed with students include education – Thanedar says that as governor he would work to make college free for families earning $120,000 or less – and the long-term response to the Flint water crisis.
Thanedar says he’d appoint a cabinet-level official to coordinate with Flint residents on their needs. He says many residents have suffered psychologically from the experience of drinking tainted water.
Thanedar calls Enbridge Energy’s pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac a “ticking time bomb” and says that as governor, he would shut it down.
Asked about whether he supports a woman’s “right to choose,” Thanedar said that he does.
“The government has no business getting into people’s bedrooms, not telling people who they can love and who they cannot,” he added.