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winning the day

Gaga Over Govs

Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the hottest governor of them all?

The current cyberspace chatter is Sarah Palin, Alaska’s first female governor, who sports high cheekbones, naughty librarian glasses and a beauty queen past. One post on snarky Wonkette.com declares, “This chick could be solely responsible for why polar bears have no icebergs to swim to.”

Palin spokeswoman Sharon Leighow says the gov takes it all in stride, noting the recent Alaska Magazine story that crowned her “America’s Hottest Governor” was referring to her meteoric political rise. “She’s flattered by all the national attention,” Leighow says.

Palin’s not above having fun with her image. The mom of four (with a fifth on the way) did a winsome spread for February’s Vogue.

Not too long ago Jennifer Granholm, who boasts her own enviable cheekbones and beauty pageant bona fides, was declared the blonde bombshell of governors. She still wins her fair share of admiring (and slightly creepy) blog posts.

But as far back as her attorney general days, Granholm and her staff have stressed her Harvard Law training and political smarts, even axing ads that cast her as too much of a glamour girl.

Spokeswoman Liz Boyd isn’t amused by the hotness debate. “In a year when a woman is running for president, speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington and nine women are serving as governors, we would like to think the media would realize that citizens are interested in much more than appearances — and what officials are doing to help them,” she said.

Boyd has a point. Somehow, we doubt John Engler’s staff ever grappled with this question.


Political Palate
Could last year’s budget fiasco have been avoided if Jennifer Granholm and Mike Bishop had hashed the whole thing out over a cozy bottle of Cabernet?

Probably not. Then again, it couldn’t have hurt. That’s the inspiration behind The Political Winery, the brainchild of Democratic lawyer Chris Trebilcock and Republican John Helmholdt, communications director for Grand Rapids Public Schools. They are alumni of the Michigan Political Leadership Program at Michigan State University.

“John and I don’t agree on a lot,” says Trebilcock, an attorney with Miller Canfield in Detroit, “but it’s a lot easier over a nice glass of wine.”

Armed with the motto “Putting the Party Back into Politics,” the venture will be up and running in four to six weeks, they say. Thirsty partisans will be able to place orders at www.politicalwine.com for wine made and bottled in Michigan.

The Founding Fathers, as Trebilcock and Hemholdt merrily refer to themselves, have crafted four politically themed wines to savor. Our favorites? Jack Blue, a “wine for the common man…often criticized for having a disorganized flavor,” and Red Trunk, whose “recent blends may be too conservative for some political tastes.”


Artful Advocacy

ArtServe Michigan has a new CEO, a new office and a new mission: to advocate for arts and culture in Lansing, Washington, D.C. and in municipalities and school districts across the state.

Fresh off a merger with the Michigan Association of Community Arts Agencies 17 months ago, ArtServe seeks to unite the state’s thousands of artists. The Wixom-based organization is headed by Neeta Delaney, a dynamo who made her mark directing Jackson’s Armory Arts Project, which won rave reviews from Gov. Granholm.

Delaney says arts and culture are critical engines of the new economy, but steeped in Michigan tradition. “We are so diverse in both peninsulas. We have a history of creative people in this state — just look at the auto industry,” she says. “We have a legacy of innovation, invention and entrepreneurship.”

ArtServe is gearing up for Arts & Culture Advocacy Day in Lansing March 19. Arts funding has taken it on the chin in recent years, and when Granholm placed a moratorium on arts funding last year during the budget crisis, Delaney called it “really the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

“Education, health care and public safety are all basic things Michigan has to invest in,” she adds. “But Michigan has to also invest in things that differentiate us and draw young people — like cultural resources.”


Michigan’s Newest J Hall of Famers
The man whose rough-and-tumble questioning has made many a politician squirm and stumble will soon take his place in the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.

Tim Skubick, a Capitol staple for four decades in TV, radio and newspapers, will be honored along with Roberta Applegate, Keith Crain, Richard Mayer and Norman Sinclair at the 23rd annual event. The induction is at 5 p.m. April 27 at the Kellogg Center at Michigan State University.

Crain is chairman of Crain Communications, which publishes more than 30 weekly trade publications, including Crain’s Detroit Business, Automotive News and AutoWeek. The late Roberta (Bobbie) Applegate was the first female full-time Capitol reporter for the Associated Press during the 1940s, and later wrote for The Miami Herald.

Sinclair, a 2003 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service, is a former reporter for The Detroit News and now an investigative reporter for WJBK-TV in Detroit. Artist Richard (Dick) Mayer spent more than four decades at the Detroit Free Press until retiring as art director in 1996.

When asked about the tribute, Skubick discarded his signature dry wit and lauded his profession: “The real recipients of this honor are the media out there that have had a strong commitment to covering Michigan’s government and politics. Without that, there is no opportunity to enter the Hall of Fame.”

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