Meritless appointee rejections stunt progress

Agriculture, natural resource experts were rejected for a political stunt

Michigan Senate Republicans put politics ahead of improving the lives of their constituents Tuesday when they rejected 13 expert appointees to citizen commissions and boards in a show against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 decisions.

The party line rejection vote means appointees cannot be considered again for their respective workgroups, which provide policy recommendations to the state government and its elected leaders. 

Included were four environmental appointees: Thomas Baird and David Cozad to the Natural Resources Commission; Erin Kricher to the Rural Development Fund Board; and Cheryl Kobernik to the Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“These appointees are committed to improving Michigan’s public health, food systems, and natural places,” said Tom Zimnicki, director of groundwater, surface water and agriculture for Michigan Environmental Council. “It is disappointing, but not surprising, that Republicans chose to prioritize political games over confirming qualified individuals who are committed to the health of Michigan’s natural resources and residents.”

“Senate Republicans rejected expert appointees not on merit but because of a dispute with the governor outside the appointees’ scopes of work,” said Sean Hammond, policy director for MEC. “As a result, Michigan lost its chance to see citizen leaders shape good policy that could positively impact daily life for people across the state.” 

Thomas Baird, of Elk Rapids, is an environmental lawyer, past chair of the Michigan Hydro Relicensing Coalition and past president of the Anglers of the Au Sable.

David Cozad, of Bay City, is the cofounder of Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and is the president of Mainstream Resources in Auburn Hills. 

Erin Kricher, of Traverse City, is the director of renewable development for Invenergy, LLC, an international renewable energy company based in the Midwest, and a board member of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

Cheryl Kobernik, of Frankfort, is the owner North Star Organics, a cherry farm in Frankfort and the former chair of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency State Committee.

By Beau Brockett Jr.

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  • Beau Brockett
    published this page in News 2021-01-27 14:35:58 -0500