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William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate Hardcover – March 29, 2006
About the Author
Dave Dempsey is policy advisor for the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of more than sixty-five environmental advocacy organizations. Dempsey is author of Ruin and Recovery: Michigan's Rise as a Conservation Leader, published by the University of Michigan Press. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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Top customer reviews
Milliken had a profound impact on Michigan during his 14-year tenure; that impact endures to the current time, both good and bad. Like Christine Whitman's book, Milliken is a study of a modern politician that continues to embrace the legacy of Lincoln while the GOP continues to fall prey to the southern boll weevils that opposed Lincoln's principles.
The primary weakness of this book is that it yields very little analysis on the costs and benefits of Milliken's policy initiatives, which I believe seriously limits the value of this biography. Instead the author writes more like a journalist doing a hard news story; offering little insight on the impact Milliken had on the state. For those that follow Michigan politics, this will not be a problem since its easy to score his performance as you read and remember the policies of Milliken and the condition of our current economy and State, for example his creation of the single business tax, financial support for Detroit, fierce support for individual rights and his leadership and example in regards to government doing the right thing rather than the politically expedient act. Milliken was his day's anti-Tom Delay and in some ways, also his day's LBJ.
For example, I believe the author could have done a better job of lauding the governor for his pro-environment stance and the benefits we gained from his early commitment to protecting our natural resources. On the other hand, no criticism is given for the horrible bottle bill he instigated that harms business and consumers alike as other states came up with much more comprehensive and optimal methods to administrate recyclables or his institution of the single business tax that scared off potential businesses from locating to Michigan.
Another subject that warrants a serious analysis is Milliken's failed bet on Detroit. While the author captures the relationship between Milliken and Detroit and its mayor Coleman Young, there is no commentary on how the state's "investment" was eventually proven to be good money chasing bad when other, better opportunities, like enticing more business around the universities or better investing in Northern Oakland County may have increased and diversified our job base rather than subsidizing a dying city.
For all its limitations, I'm glad I invested the time to read about a good man whose personal character and qualities are virtually non-existent in today's political arena, which is our loss.