James J. Blanchard Papers, 1982-2002
Using These Materials
- The collection is open to research. Digitized audio files are currently available only in the Bentley Historical Library reading room on designated Bentley Library computers.
- Blanchard, James J., 1942-
- Blanchard was Democratic governor of Michigan from 1983 to 1991. The collection is arranged mainly by unit or functional responsibility within the governor's office. These series are chief of staff/executive assistants, correspondence office, government relations, issues development, legal department, operators, personnel, press office, Upper Peninsula office, Washington office, Lansing residence, and political and campaign files. The files document the Blanchard administration's efforts in areas of education, job creation, the state's economy, environmental protection, and the rebuilding of Michigan's infrastructure.
356 linear feet
9 oversize volumes
3.66 GB (online)
50 digital audio files
- Call Number:
- 9940 Aa 2
- Finding aid prepared by: Matthew T. Schaefer, 1991 Karen Jania, 1991
- Scope and Content:
James J. Blanchard, as Governor of Michigan, was the chief executive of the state. He was vested with the power to execute the laws of the state and to issue executive orders. He supervised the nineteen departments of the executive branch, ran the executive office of the governor, and appointed members to state boards and commissions. The governor submitted messages to the state legislature and recommended measures considered necessary or desirable; in short, Blanchard set a legislative agenda. A key element of this agenda were the annual state budgets submitted to the legislature, recommending revenues to meet proposed expenditures. Although Blanchard had the power to grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, he exercised this power with care. Blanchard also was empowered to seek extraditions and issue warrants on fugitives from justice. Finally, as governor, Blanchard was the commander-in-chief of the state's armed forces. In addition to these roles defined by law, custom, and practice, Blanchard used the governorship as a platform from which to champion Michigan.
In the course of completing the many tasks inhering in the office of governor, Blanchard and his executive office created and reviewed a welter of written documents. These records and papers provide an important source documenting the executive actions for the years of Blanchard's tenure, 1983-1990. Many are in the departmental files at the State Archives. This collection of papers at the Bentley Library constitutes that portion of executive documentation which Blanchard, upon leaving office, decreed personal in accordance with the traditional practice of recent governors of Michigan.
The materials came from geographically distinct offices (Lansing, Detroit, Upper Peninsula, and Washington), reflected the efforts of staff ranging from policy analysts to Blanchard himself, and were preserved in varying degrees of completeness. Among these records and papers retained are: correspondence, budgets, memoranda, reports, briefing books, minutes and agenda, press releases and public statements, legal briefs and decisions, legislative bills and analyses, clippings, photographs, audiotapes, and videotapes. These materials were especially strong in documenting the Blanchard administration's investment in human capital and education, efforts to promote economic development and create jobs, interest in rebuilding Michigan's infrastructure while preserving and restoring its environmental beauty, and generally reflecting its commitment to act to promote the commonweal. The collection sheds some light on affirmative action, citizens' protection, criminal justice, the Michigan Youth Corps, and attitudes of Michigan residents as reflected in letters to the governor. The collection is weak in its coverage of Blanchard's private life and his activities related to the Democratic party.
Researchers should note that Blanchard's executive office was not a rule-bound operation, restricted by strict adherence to hierarchical functions. There was considerable sharing of responsibilities, especially at the higher levels of the administration. One finds that roles filled by a chief of staff sometimes devolved to an executive assistant or to a staff member in the Legal or Government Relations Office. Work on large recurring projects, like the budget or the state of the state address, involved participation at many levels cutting across offices. Day to day functions, like responding to issue-oriented constituent correspondence, often entailed action by the chief of staff, counsel, or a policy analyst from the Washington Office, in addition to the expected responses from the Issues and Correspondence Offices. These sorts of overlap are noted when appropriate in the finding aid.
The Chief of Staff had the primary responsibility for seeing to the efficient functioning of the executive office of the Governor. In fulfilling this responsibility, the Chief of Staff interacted with nearly every department in the executive branch of state government and with each unit within the executive office. The Chief of Staff served as a sort of gatekeeper for the Governor, apprising him of significant issues, informing him of how best to respond, and judging how effectively the response meets the issue. During Blanchard's two terms in office, he was served by four Chiefs of Staff: F. Thomas Lewand, Phillip Jourdan, Rick Cole, and Steve Weiss. Records are extant from each chief except Rick Cole; these range from the thin but rich records of Lewand to the more fulsome materials of Jourdan and Weiss.
The efforts of the Chief of Staff to facilitate frictionless functioning of state governance were augmented by able deputies, competent staff, and a cadre of Executive Assistants. Chief among these assistants were Nancy Austin-Schwartz, Bill Liebold, Carolyn Sparks, and Ron Thayer. Given that the Blanchard administration was democratic and decidedly non-hierarchical, these Executive Assistants often filled roles similar to the Chiefs of Staff. At these highest levels of administration, decisions were made and actions taken without much regard to hierarchy or job description strictures. In this free market of ideas and ability, whoever had the best idea or was best able to handle a situation attended to it. Sometimes this was the chief, sometimes one of the assistants, but just as often things were handled by other members of the executive office staff or by someone from an executive department.
The Correspondence Office was that division within the Executive Office which received, routed, and responded to constituent correspondence. In handling this task, staff in the Correspondence Office worked closely with the Issues Development Office, with head of executive branch departments, and with the Office Operations Division. Mail received by the unit was directed to specialists in Issues Development, to the appropriate state department, to the Governor's personal attention, or handled with a standard response. Given the volume of mail directed to the Governor's attention (at times reaching thousands of pieces per week) and its issues-oriented nature, one should not be surprised to find that most mail sparked a standard response. The bulk of the materials saved reflects the office's efforts to individually address constituent concerns in a timely fashion. This work originally was the domain of an autonomous Communications Unit, fell to the correspondence unit within the Operations Division for a time, until finally it was established as a separate office. Donna Kaufman oversaw this unit from 1983 until 1988 when Patrick Casey took charge.
The Government Relations Office was the unit which tracked the Governor's legislative agenda and the executive branch's reaction to bills coming out of the legislature. The Government Relations Office served as the Governor's interface with the Michigan House and Senate. In fulfilling this mission, the office had to rely upon the advice and consent of many within the executive office, specifically the Legal Division and the Issues Office (especially the intergovernmental relations unit). This reliance on diverse input was evident in Blanchard's first term as the Legal/ Legislative/Government Relations functions were all met by a single office, headed by Conrad Mallet, Jr. There exists little to document Mallet's tenure as head of this office, aside from transition files and enrolled house and senate bills. During Blanchard's second term the legislative functions fell to separate government relations, legal, and issues offices which then maintained a close working relationship. Stan Fedewa, and later, William Kandler, directed the work of the Government Relations Office at this time. The efforts of both of these men are well reflected in the extant materials.
The Issues Development Office was charged with delineating, articulating and disseminating the official Blanchard position on the topics of the day. These functions, central to the administration, insured that the issues office would be integral to the executive office. This is manifest in the myriad array of units heavily reliant on the Issues Development Office for their own operations; the Chief of Staff, Executive Assistants, Correspondence, Government Relations, Legal, and Press Offices all were in daily contact with Issues. Within the Issues Development Office, responsibilities were divided among analysts according to issue: agriculture, education, environment, human services, local government, and urban affairs. These analysts reported to the office manager, who in turn reported to the Deputy Chief of Staff, who checked that positions were consistent with the policy goals of the administration.
The Issues Development Office eventually came to house the papers of the Local Government Advisor. Connie Shorter was the senior staff member responsible for local government affairs and she moved with the unit from its original home in the Policy Department, through the Government Relations Office, back to Issues. The office also served as aegis for special projects ranging from the Cabinet Council on Human Investment, to Citizens' Protection, to the Public Investment Task Force. The issues office itself underwent numerous name changes over the years, beginning as the Policy Office, then to Planning and Program Development, before settling on Issues Development in 1987. In whatever guise, under whatever name, this office remained poised to build Blanchard's stance on any issue.
The Legal Division dealt with the many legal problems arising out of running a state government. These include, but are not limited to, issues related to administrative rules, bonds, local charters, corrections, crime, pardons, extraditions, legislation, and protection of civil rights. This rather broad array of issues eventually proved too disparate to be capably handled by the relatively small legal staff, so some duties were shunted to the Government Relations and Issues Offices. As with the government relations materials above, there are no materials from Conrad Mallet, Jr.'s tenure. Materials relating to administrative and emergency rules, bonds, local charters, pardons, and extraditions have not been retained with this collection; they are retained by the State Archives. What has been retained from the Legal Division are the papers of Mike Hodge, Legal Advisor and Special Counsel to the Governor from 1987 to 1990. Hodge's papers superbly document the legal concerns facing Blanchard during his second term.
The Operations Division's primary function within the Blanchard administration was scheduling the Governor's out-of-office events. This entailed handling the thousands of invitations for the Governor to appear, deciding which of these events merited Blanchard's presence, making local arrangements with the advance team, briefing Blanchard on the hot-button issues, and serving as liaison between local contacts and the executive office. Jill Pennington capably directed the scheduling unit for both of Blanchard's terms as governor. During one of the periodic reorganizations of the executive office, the Operations Division oversaw the correspondence unit and a speakers bureau. Both of these proved to be outside the scope of the scheduling mission and were dealt out of operations' hand in the next office restructuring. The division remained committed to placing a prepared Blanchard before congenial forums.
The Personnel Division was charged with filling all appointive positions in the executive and judicial branches of state government. These positions include all executive posts on boards, commissions, task forces and the executive office, as well as all court posts ranging from courts of appeals, to district courts, to the State Supreme Court. The Personnel Division was initially headed up by Ron Thayer. Shelby Solomon next ran the office. The papers related to personnel division during the tenure of both of these men was not forwarded with the Blanchard collection. All that remains are the papers of Gregory Morris, director of the division from 1987 to 1990. The materials Morris retained dealt exclusively with Blanchard's judicial appointments from 1983 to 1990. This narrow, but very important, stratum of information remains the only evidence on how and who Blanchard chose to extend his program.
The Press Office presented the public face for the Blanchard administration. This office coordinated press conferences, released policy statements and copies of Blanchard's speeches, arranged photo opportunities, mediated with local and state media, and generally put the best possible spin on the administration. The Press Office was the single point of fixity in the field of flux that was the Blanchard executive office. This office fell under the eye of only two directors, Rick Cole and Tom Scott, during the two gubernatorial terms. Scott was with the office almost from the outset and is largely responsible for the retention of much of the materials. He treated the Press Office as the archives of the executive office, saving newspaper clippings, press releases, speeches, audiotapes, videotapes, and photographs which document the public life of Blanchard. These materials provide the most comprehensive picture of Blanchard as politician, statesman, governor.
The Upper Peninsula Office was one of the regional offices established by the executive office to better serve a specific clientele, in this case the residents of the upper peninsula. This office brought the services of state government to the more immediate attention of upper peninsula citizens. It answered constituent correspondence, served as liaison between county officials and the state, and briefed the Governor for his trips to the upper peninsula. In short the Upper Peninsula Office provided a scaled-down version of the outreach functions offered by the executive office. Tom Baldini, director of the office, filled his post so competently that he was viewed by the executive office and citizens as the "governor" of the upper peninsula.
The Washington Office served as a clearinghouse for information on federal proposals, congressional legislation, and national policy developments. It also lobbied for the interests of the state. In pursuing these ambitious, if amorphous, interests, the Washington Office employed a staff of five to ten people over the years of Blanchard's tenure. The staff of the office worked with Blanchard, the executive office, and Michigan agency directors to develop responses to federal activity, to initiate timely communication between federal and state officials, and to arrange and conduct meetings and conferences when appropriate. Aside from the director of the Washington Office, E. Douglas Frost, who focused on budgets, taxes, and overall policy planning, each of the staff members in the office was responsible for broadly defined issues. Rosemary Freeman, who preceded Frost as office director, served as deputy director and handled issues related to training, labor, and education. James Callow was the legislative analyst charged with keeping abreast of economic and trade issues. Maura Cullen was responsible for social services, health and human services, and child welfare. Peter Kyriacopolous was the last of three analysts (Charlie Moses and Jo Ellen D'Arcy preceded him) who handled concerns related to the environment and transportation.
- Biographical / Historical:
James J. Blanchard, the first Democratic governor of Michigan in twenty years, won the 1982 gubernatorial election over Richard Headlee with a plurality of less than 200,000 out of three million votes cast. When Blanchard took office, the state faced its gravest economic challenges since the depression: slumping auto sales pushed unemployment over 17%, while diminishing the state's tax base; a $1.7 billion deficit loomed and finances were further straitened when the state's credit rating was downgraded; outmigration of educated and skilled workers threatened the human capital of Michigan. Working with his cabinet, public and private sector leaders, and members of the legislature, Blanchard righted Michigan's finances, upgraded the state's credit rating, and launched an aggressive economic development program to diversify Michigan's economy and provide jobs for its citizens.
Among the recovery programs set in motion by Blanchard were: the establishment of the Michigan Youth Corps, a program which created 40,000 jobs for young people; installing a public works project which provided 50,000 jobs dedicated to improving the state's infrastructure; the formation of the Governor's Commission on Jobs and Economic Development, a coalition of business, labor, education, and government leaders; adoption of a zero-growth state budget and an unpopular temporary income tax increase; and development of an aggressive plan to protect the environment, especially the Great Lakes. By 1985, the state had turned the corner on the worst of its economic problems, achieving solvency by November and consequently having Michigan's credit upgraded to the best among American states. The Blanchard administration credited its own efforts for spurring this economic recovery.
Blanchard campaigned in 1986 on the theme, "Michigan, the Comeback State." He easily defeated challenger, William Lucas, winning over 68% over the votes cast. Backed by this mandate, Blanchard embarked on a more ambitious agenda of reform. This broader program included, but was by no means limited to: strengthening the state's finances, innovation and integrity in public policy, improving education, preserving the right of choice for women, protecting children and families, and being tough on criminals. The Michigan Strategic Fund is an apt example of innovative policy designed to provide capital for small businesses and to diversify the state economy. Education was a top priority for Blanchard, and his second term saw the development of a broad array of education initiatives: the Michigan Education Trust, a state-supported guaranteed tuition program; the Research Excellence Fund, state-financed research in new technologies; the Michigan Model Health Curriculum, an ambitious effort to educate all students on good health habits; and the Michigan Opportunity Card, a surety of competence offered by the Cabinet Council on Human Investment. Michigan hosted several conferences on environmental issues as it attended to preventive and palliative measures to preserve the region's ecology. Blanchard created the post of Citizens' Protection Advisor to secure Michiganders' rights. All these efforts reveal the activist bent of the Blanchard administration.
Blanchard came to the office of governor at a propitious moment, a time when states were taking up responsibilities shunted by the federal government. Reagan's New Federalism accelerated the shifting of powers and duties to state and local agencies, a trend initiated by Nixon's revenue sharing. Blanchard brought an apt philosophy to this situation. Blanchard described himself as, "of the new breed of governors: innovative, flexible, global in outlook and unafraid to challenge the status quo." These attributes served him well in meeting the needs of the Michigan citizenry and economy. His administration was pragmatic, fiscally conservative, and acted within the parameters of the possible. Blanchard shunned adherence to ideology, save the ideal that governments can, and should, act to benefit people. These traits were apparent in his administrative legacy.
Immediately before winning his first gubernatorial term in the 1982 election, Blanchard served in the United States Congress for four terms representing several Detroit suburbs. While in Congress, he won acclaim for his work in shaping the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Act, an act which saved thousands of Michigan jobs. Blanchard's service to the people of Michigan began in 1968 as legal advisor to the Michigan Secretary of State. In 1969, he became an Assistant Attorney General and served in that capacity for five years before being elected to Congress.
James Blanchard was born in Detroit on August 8, 1942. He earned a B.A. and M.B.A. from Michigan State University and a law degree from the University of Minnesota. Blanchard married Paula Parker in June 1966; they had one son, Jay, in 1971. The Blanchards were divorced in 1987. James Blanchard married Janet Fox in the fall of 1989. After failing to win a third term as governor, Blanchard repaired to a private legal practice. He served as ambassador to Canada in the Clinton administration and ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for governor in 2002.
- Acquisition Information:
- The collection was the gift of Governor James J. Blanchard and came to the library in 1991. Additional materials were received 1992-1994 and in 2002-2006. Donor no. 7893 .
- Processing information:
The arrangement scheme for the Blanchard papers is predicated on a primary dividing principle which established series linked to offices within the executive office of the governor. The series created by this scheme are arranged alphabetically by name of office. The researcher should also note that, within each of the series, the materials are arranged in a manner designed to retain, as far as practicable, their original order. In some cases this order revealed remarkable similarities in filing practices; staff in the Correspondence Office and Deputy Chief of Staff used systems which divided materials into two runs: departmental and issues-topical. Where original order was obscure or attenuated, the materials were arranged to facilitate research and accessibility of information. This necessitated rearranging materials from the Legal Office and the Chief of Staff to conform to the department and issues-topical bifurcation present in related files. Significant rearrangement was also undertaken within the Issues and Press Office series.Summary Contents List
- Chief of Staff/Executive Assistants -- Boxes 1-30
- F. Thomas Lewand -- Box 1
- Phillip Jourdan -- Boxes 2-7
- Steve Weiss -- Boxes 7-15
- Nancy Austin-Schwartz (Deputy Chief) -- Boxes 16-20
- William Liebold (Cabinet Secretary) -- Boxes 21-23
- Carolyn Sparks (Executive Assistant) -- Boxes 23-27
- Ron Thayer (Executive Assistant) -- Boxes 28-30
- Correspondence Unit Annual Files Boxes 31-46
- 1983-1986 -- Boxes 31-34
- 1987 -- Boxes 35-40
- 1988 -- Boxes 40-42
- 1989 -- Boxes 42-43
- 1990 -- Boxes 43-46
- Governments Relations -- Boxes 47-101
- Administration -- Boxes 47-56
- Legislation -- Boxes 56-100
- Public Acts -- Box 101
- Issues Development -- Boxes 102-133
- General Staff -- Boxes 102-108
- Local Government -- Boxes 108-123
- Special Projects Boxes 123-133
- Legal (Mike Hodge) -- Boxes 134-143; 347-355
- Correspondence -- Box 134
- Departments -- Boxes 134-138
- Topical -- Boxes 138-143
- Departments / Topical -- Boxes 347-355
- Operations -- Boxes 144-163
- Blue Folders -- Boxes 144-161, 256
- Other Scheduling Files -- Boxes 162-163
- Personnel (Greg Morris) -- Boxes 164-167
- Judicial Appointments 1 -- Boxes 164-166
- Judicial Appointments 2 -- Boxes 166-167
- Press Office -- Boxes 168-220, 245
- Newspaper Clippings -- Boxes 168-172
- Press Releases -- Boxes 173-177
- Speeches -- Boxes 177-181
- Topical -- Boxes 181-188
- Photographs -- Boxes 189-193, 245
- Audiotapes -- Boxes 194-213
- Videotapes -- Boxes 214-220
- Upper Peninsula Office -- Boxes 221-225
- Correspondence -- Box 221
- County Files -- Box 222
- Education -- Box 223
- Governor's U.P. Trips -- Box 223
- Topical -- Boxes 224-225
- Washington Office -- Boxes 226-244
- E. Douglas Frost (Director) -- Boxes 226-234
- Rosemary Freeman (Deputy Director) -- Boxes 235-237
- James Callow -- Boxes 238-240
- Maura Cullen -- Boxes 240-242
- Peter Kyriacopolous -- Boxes 242-244
- Governor's Residence Files -- Boxes 246-255
- Topical files, 1982-1990 -- Boxes 246-250
- Lansing residence events file, 1983-1990 -- Boxes 250-253
- Governor's Briefing Notebooks -- Box 254
- Miscellaneous Subject Files, 1982-1990 -- Box 255
- Political and Campaign Files -- Boxes 257-269 and 9 oversize volumes
- Polling data, 1982, 1986, 1990, Boxes 257-265 and 9 oversize volumes
- Campaign files, 1982, 1986, 1990, Boxes 265-268
- Other political activities, Box 269
- Governor/Political, Boxes 270-287 and 336-339
- Files accessioned in 2002-2003; probably maintained in the governor's private residence and not received as part of the 1991 accession.
- Post-Gubernatorial Career, Boxes 277-287
- 1992 Bill Clinton campaign, box 277
- Ambassadorship to Canada, boxes 280-282
- 2000 Senatorial candidacy evaluation, boxes 282-283
- 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary campaign, boxes 284-287
- Visual Material, Boxes 288-309
- Videotapes, boxes 288-306
- Blanchard for Governor television spots, 1992, boxes 288-289
- Gubernatorial speeches, appearances, and related, boxes 290-296
- 1990 gubernatorial campaign, boxes 297-300
- Post-gubernatorial activities (include period as Ambassador to Canada), boxes 300-301
- 2002 gubernatorial primary campaign, boxes 302-306
- Gubernatorial and post-gubernatorial photographs and albums, boxes 307-309
- Videotapes, boxes 288-306
- Sound Recordings
- Dated from the 1980s, the content of these tapes is varied and includes recordings of the 1986 Democratic Convention, news conferences, speeches and recordings of Republican meetings, news conferences, and conventions. A large portion of the content is unlabeled and unidentified. Boxes 310 and 356 (Contents not listed)
- Chief of Staff/Executive Assistants -- Boxes 1-30
- Physical Location:
- Parts of the Blanchard papers are stored offsite. Two days notice is required for retrieval.
- Additional Descriptive Data:
The researcher is advised that the Bentley Historical Library has other holdings directly related to the James J. Blanchard collection. The most immediately connected is the Janet Fox Blanchard collection, which documents her status and efforts as James Blanchard's first lady from 1989 to 1990. Other natural research links exist between the Blanchard collection and the collections of his gubernatorial forebears (William Milliken, George Romney, John Swainson, G. Mennen Williams, et al.) and the Bentley's holdings on the Democratic Party of Michigan.
- Alternative Form Available:
Digitization: The Library has undertaken the digitization of a number of sound recordings within this collection. The resulting audio files are available for playback only in the Bentley Library Reading Room. Links to item images and additional information are available within this finding aid. Original sound recordings are only available for staff use.
Digitization: A number of recordings within this collection have been digitized. The resulting files are available for playback online or in the Bentley Library Reading Room according to rights. Original media is only available for staff use.
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Blanchard, James J., 1942-
Michigan -- Politics and government -- 1981-1990.
Michigan -- Politics and government -- 1981-1990.
Using These Materials
The collection is open to research. Digitized audio files are currently available only in the Bentley Historical Library reading room on designated Bentley Library computers.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
item, folder title, box no., James J. Blanchard Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan