MGoPodcast 9.Supplemental: Abdul El-Sayed Comment Count

Seth June 28th, 2018 at 5:14 PM

42 minutes

Wherein we interview Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed. This podcast is not and does not constitute an endorsement of the candidate. When a former Michigan athlete (lacrosse before it went varsity) is running for governor and reads the site and asks to come on the podcast we say "Okay, but we're not lobbing softballs".

Abdul did this whole interview without any notes and was very engaged in the toughest questions we could throw at him, so a lot of this interview went off anyone's idea of a script and got into some granular back-and-forth on complicated issues and events. That makes it hard to write up—what do you leave out?—so I'm going to present MGoBlog's questions below and you can get Abdul's answers by listening to the podcast.

Things discussed:

  • Abdul's incredibly depressing Wikipedia page. How offering to serve got him thrown into a commission to run the Detroit Health Department after the emergency manager had shut it down. What did he do there?
  • (at 7:30) Flint Water Crisis: What's the DEQ gotta do now? If the "money's there" where is it, how much will it cost? Could it have been faster? Will anyone believe them when they say the water's clean? What's Flint fatigue? How were the measurements made?
  • (at 12:20) Lead Abatement Report: After Flint stuff his report on lead poisoning was changed? By whom? What level of lead is "safe"? How to operate a bureaucracy, setting culture of serving the public versus "closing the ticket."
  • (at 18:20) Single-payer "MichCare" plan? How does it control costs, what's the upfront investment and transition costs, how does it compare to other plans? What are the incentives in the system and how do you change that?
  • (at 23:20) Vis a vis recent Supreme Court decisions and a White House that would have substantially different views on, uh, civics: What is under the scope of a governor? Specifically would he as governor use state resources to support ICE and enforce federal immigration policy and political incarceration he doesn't agree with?
  • (at 27:54) Brian's YIMBY hour: How do you address the relationship between housing and property assessments caught in an impossible Proposition A situation between rate of housing prices and rate of inflation? How do you decide the mils? How often do you do it? Note: on this question Abdul primarily addressed over-assessment that was leading to tax foreclosures in communities adjacent to gentrification, and education funding, while Brian was asking more about the Ann Arbor housing crisis (where nobody can sell their home). Brian recommends City Observatory dot org. Also SightLine.
  • (at 35:31) Education: School of Choice effect on school districts in lower income communities. Promulgation of charter schools? Funding of charter schools?
  • (at 37:30) Lightning Round: Regents for Michigan State: can we get two D's who didn't go to Michigan State? Ballot proposal to legalize marijuana? Ballot proposal against partisan redistricting? Plan to reduce the cost of a college education? Favorite Michigan athlete of the last 15 years?


"Across 110th Street"
"Where No Man Has Gone Before" Alexander Courage


Consider the gauntlet thrown down, sir.



June 28th, 2018 at 5:18 PM ^

Leaving the comments open for now. You can talk in this thread about policy, but if it veers into partisanism your comment will get deleted and if it gets too far the thread gets locked.


June 28th, 2018 at 5:23 PM ^

This very clearly violates the site’s own “no politics” rule, and is the opposite of what I (and I’d wager a good portion of other users) come here for. Regardless of the candidate interviewed or issues discussed, I have to say this is disappointing.


June 28th, 2018 at 5:36 PM ^

I fear like this distinction has been lost long ago on this site, but godspeed with you yet again trying to make that very real distinction clear.

Also, expect to hear about how you're driving away droves of customers/clicks and how you'll need to make amends before your empire crumbles under hubris, or whatever people say when the free thing they enjoy isn't exactly how they want it to be all the time.

L'Carpetron Do…

June 29th, 2018 at 9:48 AM ^

I get your concern but one interview with a candidate for elected office, particularly one with ties to Michigan athletics, isn't going to sink mgoblog. I just started listening now and it doesn't really seem like blindly promotional partisan hackery. This is more policy than politics. 

Full Disclosure: I know Abdul and I played with him and I am likely to contribute to his campaign in the near future. He is BRILLIANT and incredibly capable. And that's all anyone should look for in a candidate, party labels be damned. If I was still a Michigan resident I would vote for him and probably volunteer for his campaign. So, yes, I am a bit biased but I still think its not a big deal.

 I know that will probably bother some people and I know a lot of mgoreaders would prefer no politics. But, in the interest of fairness, I would also be in favor of bringing in any and all other candidates for a similar discussion. I understand Abdul got a platform here that others did not. Let's hear from 'em all!

Another disclaimer: I eat, sleep, drink and breathe politics and its my field so I get excited about stuff like this.

yossarians tree

June 29th, 2018 at 3:08 PM ^

American politics reached its singularity event a couple years ago when we were actually told to choose between a criminal and a clown. My epiphany at that time was that there is little if anything I can do about our politics and that I would like to live the rest of my remaining years without the rage it all engenders within me. I don't follow the news either. I am so much happier and I realized that when you no longer care politics is actually really fucking boring.


June 28th, 2018 at 6:41 PM ^

It is your website indeed, but just like I don’t watch De Niro movies for his family values, I don’t come to your blog for your political views.

I get that these days people are so overcome by passion that they can’t separate the two, however the great thing about Mgoblog is it has been a safe place where we all bleed maize and blue and where, “Michigan football is a religion, and Saturday is the holy day of obligation.”  

I would recommend that we keep this website pure from politics. It may help us to remember that we aren’t as divided as we thought and that good men and women exist on both sides of any argument.  

Occam's Razor

June 28th, 2018 at 7:49 PM ^

Please don't be so naive. The whole "we're not as divided as we thought" rhetoric went out the window once social media became prominent and really showed us how divided this country really is.

Now that a seat on the Supreme Court is vacant again, we're really going to stretch the limits on how civil this country can remain on politics. 

As for Michigan Governor, I expect Thanedar or Whitmer to win unless MI voters are dumb enough to re-elect the party, looking at the Republicans, that, at best, looked the other way with regards to the Flint water crisis. 


Sayed is an afterthought. 



June 29th, 2018 at 8:26 AM ^

I don’t understand your last sentence. Having political discussions on a Michigan blog where we all respect each other on a basic level because of our shared interest and love of Michigan sports and the University of Michigan.

Refusing to allow political discussions on this blog is a tacit admission that we are too divided to have overcome that.


June 29th, 2018 at 8:02 AM ^

Brian, you can sometimes be an insufferably pompous douchebag.  But on this point, I agree completely with you and laughed my ass off when I read this!  You've done a fairly good job of keeping politics out of here, and we all appreciate it.

And yet, when a candidate for state governor asks for air time, such consideration should be allowed.  It doesn't sound like any punches were pulled (just reading the questions), so I want to listen to it just to hear - and I don't even live in Michigan for a vote on the issues!

One caution (not that you care) - if the other candidates ask for the same consideration, I hope you indulge them in the very same manner you indulged el-Sayed.  It would be easy to say you only support one political bent, or that you supported an alum.  But make the stand - allow all voices.  Your readers make up all voices, give them the same consideration.  (Same questions, too...)


June 28th, 2018 at 10:45 PM ^

It's a Michigan Alum running for Governor.  I think at worst, it's an edge case, and since Brian is the one who runs the site, he should have say on the edge cases.  I mean discussing whether MSU should remove Enger is also an edge case, but we seem to have an Engler thread pop up every week.  


June 29th, 2018 at 10:24 AM ^

You can't even read the responses to the questions because they aren't posted on the site.  The only way to access this content is by affirmatively clicking on and listening through the podcast.  The notion that you're "disappointed" in the presentation of something that you automatically avoid unless you actively choose not to is ridiculous.    


June 28th, 2018 at 5:44 PM ^

The political machinations of Michigan really don't affect me beyond my family still living there, but I find this pretty interesting.  It's always interesting to hear what candidates believe, and it feels pretty even-handed.  He also seems to have come to politics in a more organic way than, say, the more traditional law school/policy shop one.