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Tim Skubick: All eyes on Ionia prison break

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Michael David Elliot, 40 Michael David Elliot, 40
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LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -

Normally lazy citizens could give two hoots about what happens in state government.  There are the Olympics to attend to and didn't the Pistons just hire a new coach and the Tiger pitchers and catchers are down in Lakeland don't ya know.

But mercy. When a four-time convicted murderer, who was suppose to be behind bars in the state pen in Ionia, suddenly appeared on the outside looking back, even those folks got engaged.

And because of that the politicians are falling all over themselves in a collective CYA mode to avoid being tagged with the blame as they try to prevent a repeat.

The first buck stops at the state corrections director's desk since the Ionia prison is under his command.  Instead of stepping out front to assure the antsy public that this was an isolated matter, DOC director Dan Heyns  stayed safely back stage and sent his flak out front to face the music.  Points off for hiding in the midst of this firestorm.  However he was scheduled to appear at a senate committee hearing.

The surrogate mouthpiece announced an internal investigation would be launched.  Ya think.

There's certainly lots to investigate as prisoner Michael Elliot somehow got past a laser beam system, a couple of wire barriers and a security camera system as he blended in nicely with the snow on the ground decked out in a white thermo-underwear outfit.

On top of that apparently some corrections officers drove right past the con just before he made it to freedom en route to sunny Arizona via Indiana.  He never made it and is back behind bars as the probe unfolds.  By the way he told authorities that what he did was fairly easy.

Oh my.  That will look good in some report.

Wasting little time getting into the act were key lawmakers who monitor the correction's budget.  They demanded answers once the bad guy was caught.

Within days two prison employees were asked to take a time out but it was not clear why.

Legislative Democrats were next. They reminded everyone that the Snyder administration cut back on the number of guards in guard towers sometime ago.

Oh. Oh.

Rep. Tim Greimel, the House Democratic leader from Oakland County first raised that issue with a room full of correspondents who had not had a prison break to cover for years.  His first answer gave the clear impression that the Ds were linking the escape to the governor's budget cuts, but when pressed he confessed he had no evidence of that.  He must have muttered under his breath, oh sucks.

Next up Mr. Crime-fighter himself, Attorney General Bill Schuette . He called for his own investigation and right behind him, Governor Rick Snyder embraced that probe.  He was extra careful to express full confidence in his own department's review but there is always the chance the public might not be so comfortable.  So there was the gov embracing Schuette on duty.

House Democratic leader. Mr. Greimel was not comfortable and demanded an "independent" investigation. He did not trust the administration to investigate itself.  Mr. Schuette's office shot back there was an independent investigation underway and the A.G. was doing it.

So official Lansing is attending to this matter, promising to get to the bottom and pledging it will never happen again.

Hence the good news is the public can now return to its long winter's nap and the sports section.

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