Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the December 16, 2021 edition of Three Things Thursday! Given that this is one of the final Three Things before the New Year, I thought it would be important to pay tribute to two out-going board members, keep a spotlight on the power outages that keep happening all across the state, and give you a glimpse inside Michigan LCV as the team does our very best to celebrate the season in a COVID environment.
1. A farewell to two Michigan LCV/Michigan LCV Ed Fund board members
I’m sad to say that Michigan LCV/Michigan LCV Education Fund is losing two amazing board members. Emma White and Bali Kumar have served with distinction and dedication over the past many years, playing an integral role in setting our organizational strategy, overseeing our finances, and supporting the overall growth and development of the Michigan LCV family of organizations.
Emma filled the important position of Vice President on the Michigan LCV Ed Fund board, bringing with her an extensive background and expertise in public opinion research and communications strategy.
Board strategic planning retreat in 2015. Emma is on the far left.
Bali served as the Treasurer of the Michigan LCV Ed Fund board, bringing great perspective and knowledge from his background and expertise in capital lending, real estate, and green construction.
Michigan LCV Detroit Awards Gala 2018. Bali is the handsome guy with the yellow tie.
The staff and boards at Michigan LCV/Michigan LCV Ed Fund are incredibly grateful to both Emma and Bali for their service. Their ideas, energy, creativity and passion will be sorely missed, but we know that they will never truly leave the Michigan LCV family.
2. More power outages alongside some of the highest rates in the nation: where’s the accountability?
Last weekend, high winds blew through Michigan, resulting–once again–in widespread power outages. And, the wind is howling again today. For many Michigan communities, this has become an unfortunately common occurrence. With the increase in severe weather, including intense precipitation, dangerous summer storms and, now severe wind, massive power outages have become a running theme. This past weekend’s outages left more households in the dark here in Michigan than in states to the south, like Kentucky*, that were hit by devastating and deadly tornadoes.
As you may remember, last week’s issue of Three Things focused on Michigan LCV’s layered lobbying and public pressure campaign aimed at both legislative action and utility accountability. Our campaign, which includes radio ads, direct mail, social media and patch-through calls, urges the passage of House Bill 4236 (to remove unnecessary, outdated restrictions on rooftop solar), putting pressure on House Energy chair Rep. Joe Bellino and calling out DTE and Consumers Energy for increasing costs to ratepayers while providing the substandard service.
The Michigan Citizens Utility Board recently released its 2021 Utility Performance Report, which showed–once again–that DTE and Consumers’ performance is a serious issue. The 2021 report showed that Michiganders suffer from the fourth most power outages in the nation in terms of average duration, while Michigan is well above average in terms of average outages per year. In addition, DTE and Consumers have consistently raised electricity rates over the past five years while not improving quality of service or restoration times for outages.
The Michigan LCV team has been relentless in calling attention to this important issue (check out the linked article!), demanding a moratorium on rate increases until an independent investigation can take place to determine why DTE and Consumers’ service continues to be so abysmal. Please know that we intend to continue to hold our utility companies–and the lawmakers that they support in Lansing–accountable as we move into the New Year.
*NOTE: Severe weather has certainly impacted all corners of this nation, with the most recent storms wreaking havoc in Kentucky and other states to the south. This past weekend, entire towns were leveled and more than 70 people were killed, leaving communities grappling with unimaginable physical and emotional trauma. I hope you will join me in keeping our southern brothers and sisters in your thoughts during this terrible time.
3. Internal spotlight: The importance of gathering…and gathering safely
In the midst of this holiday season and as we head towards a much-needed break, our team–board and staff–has been pining for time together, in person. We are all fatigued by the small little square images on Zoom and we really love having time together.
I’m happy to say that many of us are gathering–safely–in various parts of the state!
Earlier this week, a group of Michigan LCV teammates in Southeast Michigan met up in Detroit in the outdoor area at the Mercury Bar for some refreshments around an open fire. For some, this was the first time they got to meet one another in-person!
Later this week, members of our staff and board will convene in Grand Rapids for another out-of-doors get together, offering an opportunity for our Westside teammates to enjoy one another’s company and decompress, as well.
I write about these gatherings because time with other humans, especially in the age of COVID, is so vitally important for stamina, morale, and camaraderie, all of which is necessary in the building of strong, dedicated, cohesive teams. The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us and it appears we must be prepared for the long haul. And, as COVID rears its ugly head yet again, especially here in Michigan, finding ways to carefully spend time together in-person is challenging, but immensely appreciated. Doing so rejuvenates, energizes, and reminds us not only of the importance of our work, but of the brilliance, thoughtfulness, kindness and talent found in the people with whom we toil every day.
Starting next week, the Michigan LCV team will be taking a much-needed two-week break. Please know that I will continue to keep you updated via Three Things over the next two weeks, with things like the culmination of Michigan’s redistricting process and critical legislation in Washington still up in the air.
I hope the next many weeks include friends and family, engaging conversation, favorite foods and drinks, and a lot of laughter. May your hearts be full of joy and love in the midst of the trying times that surround and define us. The Danes are known as some of the happiest people in the world and this is due, in part, to hygge, which they embrace as a “cornerstone of their way of life”. Loosely translated, this means “a sense of comfort, togetherness and well-being.” I wish you all a hygge holiday season!
Until next week, and as always, thank you for all you do!
P.S. Recent/breaking news of particular note:
In Detroit and Flint, one in 10 households spend more than a quarter of their income, outside of other essential expenses like food and utilities, on water services.
That’s according to a wide-ranging report released earlier this month by a team of researchers at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and consulting firm Safe Water Engineering. The report finds that a lack of water and sewer service affordability is a widespread problem across the state, especially for those with the lowest incomes.
“This is an outrageous maneuver by Enbridge that flies in the face of federal law,” AG Nessel said, vowing to “address” Enbridge’s actions.
In a press statement released yesterday, Attorney General Dana Nessel said:
This is an outrageous maneuver by Enbridge that flies in the face of federal law, which clearly establishes the process to remove a suit must be initiated within 30 days. We will address this flagrant attempt to undermine that process in court and remain fervently committed to our belief that the fate of Michigan’s greatest natural resources should be determined in a Michigan court. Our residents deserve more than a company who seeks to profit from our natural resources while at the same time attempting to evade legal review of their actions by our state’s courts.”