PAC Dinner in Detroit
Lt. Governor Brian Calley
Attracts Record Fundraiser Crowd
By John Minnis
Lt. Governor Brian Calley drew a record crowd to the annual Eastside Republican PAC fundraiser April 24 at Sindbad's Restaurant on the Detroit River.
“In the 15 to 20 years we've held these dinners here, this is the most we've ever had,” said Eastside Republican Club PAC chairman John Stempfle. He then thanked the nearly two-dozen sponsors of the event, including University of Michigan Regent Andrew Richner, former State Rep. Ed Gaffney, attorney Charles Kennedy, and Butzel Long director Louis Theros.
Others in attendance included Republican stalwart and Grosse Pointe Park Mayor Palmer Heenan, retired Wayne County Chief Judge William Giovan, and past American Bar Association President Wallace Riley.
According to Stempfle, proceeds will be used to support GOP candidates during the 2014 general election.
Members and officers of the Eastside Republican Club and PAC welcomed Lt. Governor Brian Calley to their annual dinner fundraiser at Sindbad's. From left following the dinner are PAC chairman John Stempfle, PAC committee member Linda Solterisch, ERC member Walter Koppy, ERC Chairman Jenny Nolan, Lt. Governor Calley, PAC member Lita McKeehan, and PAC member John Chouinard. John Minnis photo.
Members of Young Americans for Freedom, who earlier hosted former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum to speak at Grosse Pointe South High School, capped off the day by hearing Lt. Governor Brian Calley speak at the Eastside Republican Club PAC dinner at Sindbad's. From left are Langston Bowens, Stone Washington, Lt. Governor Calley, Neal Jeup and Phil Nauert. John Minnis photo.
As a “thank you” for speaking, officers and members of the Eastside Republican Club and PAC committee presented Lt. Governor Brian Calley with a fruit and cheese basket. One member gave the lieutenant governor a Detroit souvenir plate from the 1950s or '60s. From left are Eastside Republican Club chairman Jenny Nolan, PAC chairman John Stempfle, ERC member Walter Koppy (presenting plate) and Lt. Governor Calley. John Minnis photo.
In addition to Stempfle, P.A.C. committee members include Alice Baetz, John Chouinard, Carol Hackleman, Ed Joseph, Lita M. McKeehan, Jeffrey Neilson, and Linda R. Solterisch. The ERC chair, Jenny Nolan, serves as ex officio member of the group.
Busy Day for Conservatives
Many of those present had attended a rare appearance of former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who spoke that afternoon at Grosse Pointe South High School at the invitation of student leaders of Young Americans for Freedom.
Some 1,050 students, 60 percent of the student body, attended Santorum's "Leadership" talk, which initially had been canceled due to fears by the public school system leadership that his talk might be political.
The student assembly was reinstated after issues were addressed and students were allowed to attend with parental permission. The student assembly was also streamed online, with more than 600 viewers watching from remote locations.
Some 500 members of the community, including many at that night's Eastside Republican Club PAC dinner at Sindbad's, attended an after-school town hall meeting with Santorum at the school.
Youngest Lt. Governor in USA
The lieutenant governor was introduced by former State Rep. Gaffney, R-Grosse Pointe Farms, who served in the House with Calley in 2007-08. In fact, the younger representative even knocked on doors for Gaffney during an election campaign.
At age 36, Calley is the youngest serving lieutenant governor in the United States, Gaffney said. He is the second youngest lieutenant governor in Michigan history.
“He was kind of quiet,” Gaffney recalled of his early time with Calley in the House. “He didn't say much, unlike a lot of colleagues, but when Brian talked, people listened. He got a lot done.”
Gaffney noted that under Governor Rick Snyder and Calley, the state is heading in the right direction with unemployment down and credit ratings up.
He said Calley could have been elected to office in his own right but decided to partner with Snyder. Gaffney described his colleague as a strong advocate of small business who had a leadership role in tax reform.
Gaffney also noted that Calley, as father of an autistic daughter, is a strong advocate for autism education, awareness, and support.
“The work I do for autism, it's personal,” Calley said. “I live with it everyday.”
State Budget Balancing
Calley recalled that when he first ran for office, he thought it would be a simple matter to reduce the budget.
“I found out that out of all the 1,000 line items, there was not a single one that someone wasn't concerned about,” he said. “But if we were ever the decision makers, we would hope to have the courage to do it (trim the budget). And that's what we've been doing since 2011.”
He said that in January 2011 when he and Snyder took office, there was only enough money in the “rainy day fund” to keep the government running for 32 minutes.
“We are now $20 billion less in debt than we were in January 2011,” Calley said. “I realize we've got a long way to go, but I love the trend he (Governor Snyder) is on, of where we're going.”
Calley related a humorous story about how when he reported to work in January 2011 as lieutenant governor, he was asked for identification. “It occurred to me,” he said, “that the campaign spent millions on Snyder's face but zero on mine.”
Affinity for Detroit
Born in Dearborn and raised in west Michigan (a graduate of Ionia High School), Calley said he has a “special affinity for Detroit.”
“The biggest city in any state is the economic engine everyone lives from,” he said, “and we don't have that.”
“Believe me, we don't like running the city,” he said of the governor's installation of an emergency manager for Detroit, “but someone has to do it.”
Calley noted that for the first time in eight years, the state's population actually grew in 2011. “It wasn't a lot, but it was positive,” he said.
He pointed out that he and Snyder face tough choices. “Sometimes we're choosing between what we hate or what we really really hate. The easy option doesn't exist.”
The lieutenant governor said his goal is to hand over the keys to a better Michigan than he and Snyder inherited.
“We're on our way climbing back,” he said. “We have a long way to go.”