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Wednesday, May 12,2010

Virg Watch

Another scuffle with Dillon, and a Michigan Chamber of Commerce appearance

by Neal McNamara
Gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero has had an interesting week: He filed a couple thousand petitions to run for governor, saw the Democratic side of the governor’s race winnowed from three to two, and lashed out at his opponent, Andy Dillon, and an news website.

Bernero campaign spokesman Jamaine Dickens issued a release on Thursday accusing a Dillon spokesman of lying, and the news site Michigan Messenger of false reporting.

At issue is a Michigan Messenger article (click here to read it) in which Dillon spokesman T.J. Bucholz accused Bernero of making budget cuts that led to the release of a “violent” sex offender. The release also states that the several key facts in the Messenger story — on which Bucholz’ comments were based — were wrong.

The Messenger article had reported that Bernero authorized cuts to the “pre-trial services” division of the Lansing 54-A District Court. Pre-trial service personnel, the article states, provide judges with background information on the people that appear in court. At issue was a convicted sex offender named Adrian Hill who was let go on a $200 bond after being picked up by police for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender. Though, the article also stated that a judge had arraigned Hill, when it was actually a magistrate.

On the same day the Bernero campaign sent out its release, however, the Messenger corrected its article, stating “The Bernero administration has contacted the Michigan Messenger to correct the claim that Bernero was responsible for cuts to pre-trial services that led to the release of Adrian Hill. In fact, the administration stated, the 54-A court where Hill was arraigned never had a pre-trial services department.”

The correction goes on to state that premise that Bernero had cut pre-trial services was based on an interview with Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings, as well as one with Lansing At-Large Councilwoman Carol Wood. (Wood challenged Bernero last year for mayor, but Dunnings’ name recently appeared on a flier as a host of a Bernero gubernatorial fundraiser hosted by Ingham County elected officials.)

So, essentially, Dickens attacked Bucholz who had attacked Bernero, who has attacked Dillon, who has attacked Bernero. From Jack Lessenberry’s column this week: “The Democrats are less active, mainly because even they know they are almost certain to lose this year. Nevertheless, the two leading candidates, Dillon and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, seem to spend much of their time bashing each other.”

On Monday, according to the Detroit News, Bernero appeared at a “meet and greet” at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Bernero was the only Democrat to appear at the event, which will be counted toward a Chamber endorsement. (Though Bernero was the only Dem there, state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-Salem Township, had by then dropped out of the race). The only candidates who did not show were Dillon and Rick “One Tough Nerd” Snyder.

Tonight at 7 p.m., Bernero will appear at a gubernatorial forum at Central Michigan University alongside Republican candidates Snyder and Tom George, a state senator from Kalamazoo. The event is being hosted by the Detroit Free Press and Michigan Radio and will be streamed live on their websites, plus the website of the Morning Sun newspaper.

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