Monday, March 30, 2009

Michigan's Next Secretary of State Speaking at May Dinner

The person who wants to be Michigan's next secretary of state will be one of the speakers at the Livingston County Democrats' annual Winans Dinner.

Jocelyn Benson, election law professor at Wayne State University and founder of the Richard Austin Center on Election Law and Administration, will speak at the event scheduled for Sunday, May 3, at Lakelands Golf and Country Club in Hamburg Township.

Benson has recently opened an exploratory committee to seek the Democratic party nomination for Michigan Secretary of State in 2010. And she has a website up.

Benson has made protecting and advocating for fair elections an important part of her life. In 2005, she helped the Democratic National Committee establish its first nationwide Election Protection effort.

Announcements on other special guests for the evening are coming soon so be sure to make your reservations. Early-bird tickets are $50, a $10 savings off the regular price. Call (810) 229-4212 or email for more information.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lights Out Tonight

Tonight, millions of people throughout the world will be taking one simple action in appreciation for the planet. Earth Hour will take place Saturday, March 28th from 8:30pm-9:30pm. During this time, turn off the lights of your home. Or go even a step further and try to minimize the amount of electricity you use during this time. Maybe decide not to watch TV. If enough people turn off their lights during this time, there should be a rare sight to keep your interest - the night sky without the glow of your neighborhood!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Not THIS Mike Rogers

No, it's not our Mike Rogers who is claiming a homestead exemption in D.C., according to the previous post. It's the one from Alabama, according to Politico's Huddle.

We regret the error.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fund-Raiser for Lt. Gov. Cherry Next Week

Livingston County residents who are backing Lt. Gov. John Cherry for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010 have a chance to show their support at a fund-raiser next week in Williamston.

Dr. Paul DeWeese will host the event at his home in Williamston on March 31 at 6:30 p.m. Suggested donation is $100 but those unable to afford that are welcome, too.
The DeWeese home is at 3896 N. Williamston Road. From I-96, take exit #117 north 3.5 miles and the home will be on the right. It is roughly a half mile North of the town stop light.

RSVP's are appreciated. The number is (517) 881-6492.

Good chance to hear Cherry's ideas on Michigan's future.

No doubt we'll have news of other Democratic candidates' fund-raisers soon.

Another Newspaper Dies, but Not One I Expected

I should have seen it coming, but I didn't.

I never expected the Ann Arbor News to close. It has always been an excellent newspaper. The Booth chain for years covered the Michigan Capitol better than any other news organization in Michigan.

But on the other hand, Ann Arbor really is the ideal community to have a post-paper newspaper -- a totally on-line newspaper.

After all, it is probably the most literate, wired community in the state. Readers there are likely to be highly receptive to a strictly on-line newspaper that combines a nose for news, savvy reporters, good writing, and a community spirit with new technology that allows them to add video, more photos, links to entire reports and documents, interactivity, and all that the web has to offer.

But I am puzzled as to why the owners are framing this change as the demise of the Ann Arbor News rather than a conversion to a new format.

(It sort of is in keeping with their past use of instead of a more user friendly name for their web-based product. Why newspapers insist on a different name for their own-line version, making it hard to people to find, has always been a puzzle to me. What was wrong with Or, for that matter?)

Apparently, they want a total break with the past. But as we move into this brave new world, it would be nice to hang onto a little bit of the familiar.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

So What's New Since 2003 with MagLev?

It seems like just yesterday that Whitmore Lake resident Justin Sutton approached lawmakers with the idea for his MagLev train.

But it wasn't.

It was way back in 2003 that the Michigan House and Senate passed resolutions supporting Sutton's proposed project.

I don't doubt the science behind the concept, and who doesn't like the idea of the state not putting up cash (although giving up rights to the land along hundreds of miles of freeway has considerable value).

But I would like to know what has changed since 2003. How many employees does Sutton have? Is there a working prototype? He has 120 partners, according to the Livingston Press and Argus story for Sunday (March 22, 2009), but are they guaranteeing funding?

We've all heard the old saying about investments, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So let's look before we leap.

Move Over Hamburg, Make Way for Brighton Fire Authority

Guess there is room for more than one circus in this county.

Hamburg Township, which one reigned unchallenged as the most entertaining public body, is being joined in the center ring by the Brighton Area Fire Authority.

Genoa Township Supervisor Gary McCririe is shaping up to be leading one faction on the board and Brighton Mayor Kate Lawrence another over the firing of Fire Chief Martin DeLoach.

So far, no one has played "Guitar Hero" that we know of, but it's early.

I'll be real disappointed if these meetings aren't video-taped and televised.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Possible GOP Candidate Takes to Airways -- Selling Pizza

Looks one of the possible candidates for the GOP nomination for governor in 2010 is trying to make himself a household name in advance of the 2010 elections -- by selling pizzas on TV for his company.

The Conservative Media has the story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Leveling the Playing Field for Workers

If you've been seeing the ads on television recently, you may be a little confused about something called the Employee Free Choice Act.

Business-related groups are running ads claiming that the measure is un-American and takes away the secret ballot. Hogwash.

Livingston County residents next week will have a chance to learn about the proposed federal measure that will protect the rights of workers to form unions at an event sponsored by the Livingston County Democratic Party.

Brent Gillette, a representative from the AFL-CIO, will speak about the Employee Free Choice Act next Tuesday (March 24, 2009) at 7 p.m. at Livingston County Democratic Party headquarters.

Supporters of the measure argue that too often under the current system, employers take coercive actions that interfere with attempts to form unions. They often force workers to attend closed-door meetings against unions, threaten to close down the company entirely, and even fire workers involved in the organizing attempts.

Despite all the negative propaganda floating around, the measure has broad support among the public. An independent poll by the Gallup organization released on Tuesday shows 53 percent of Americans asked supported a new law that would "make it easier for labor unions to organize workers." Only 39 percent of respondents opposed such a law.

The event is open to the public. Party headquarters are at 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton, MI 48116.

What? No give-backs from Livingston's House Members?

Winner take all. Apparently that's the attitude of Livingston County's two House members when it comes to their salaries.

Neither of Livingston County's two Republican representatives -- Bill Rogers or Cindy Denby -- has volunteered to give a portion of his or her legislative salary back to the taxpayers.

That's according to a check done by The Associated Press. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been returning part of her pay for years, and lawmakers are supposed to take a 10 percent pay cut in 2010.

But you'd think our fiscal conservative Republican lawmakers would want to help out the taxpayers a little bit. Isn't that what happens in private industry when times get tough -- management takes a pay cut right along with the rank and file? And aren't we supposed to be running government like a business?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Support for Lt. Gov. Cherry Piling Up

Lt. Gov. John Cherry is wasting no time lining up people to support him for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010.

His organization apparently wants to live up to its name -- "A Whole Lot of People Supporting John Cherry."

The organization on Thursday (March 19, 2009) rolled out a list of local officials supporting the lieutenant governor. Many are from Southeast Michigan:

Leigh Greden - Ann Arbor City Council
Sandi Smith - Ann Arbor City Council
Christopher Taylor - Ann Arbor City Council
Margie Teall - Ann Arbor City Council
Charlie Brunner - Bay City Mayor
Marilyn Stephan - Berkley Mayor
Phil O'Dwyer - Berkley City Council
Charles Smiley - Burton Mayor
Ellen Ellenburg - Burton City Council
Michael Bridges - Farmington Hills City Council
Sue Osborn - Fenton Mayor
L.D. Hollenbeck - Ithaca City Council
Jim Ellison - Royal Oak Mayor
Gary Lelito - Royal Oak City Commissioner
Michael Estes - Traverse City Mayor
William Lattimore - Southfield City Council
Carl Solden - Waterford Twp. Supervisor

Other Democrats are looking seriously at the race, too, such as Rep. Alma Wheeler-Smith of Ann Arbor and John Freeman. Even former Michigan State University football Coach George Perles says he wants to run. So far, we haven't see much of their organizations.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Congratulations to Brighton Area Firefighters

Let's hear it for the Brighton Area Firefighters!

After six tries, the group of six full-timne firefighters voted to form a union, according to the Livingston Press and Argus story in editions for Wednesday (March 18, 2009).

Morale is low in the department and I wouldn't be surprised if that was a key factor. Few people realize how difficult it is to form a union under the current law, which gives employers the upper hand in the months preceding an election. So things must really be bad.

Collegiality, Livingston County Style

There have been quite a few articles of late discussing Mike Rogers' $1.4 million in earmarks for Livingston County.

This is the same Mike Rogers who railed against the omnibus spending bill as mortgaging "our children and grandchildren's future... Congress continues to wastefully spend their hard-earned tax dollars."  You will no doubt recall that Mr. Rogers is a veteran player of the"criticize and take" game in previous budget cycles.

Leaving aside the, ah, oddity of voting against a bill into which you had stuffed $17.6 million for your district, isn't part of a representative's job to direct spending to his or her district?  This is especially true when you represent a long-time donor state

On the whole, these earmarks are sensible and useful (not to mention co-sponsored with Democrats).  For example, Livingston County drivers -- regardless of party affiliation -- can agree that the Latson Road interchange is long overdue for completion.  Likewise, funding for research on sustainable agriculture, biotechnology projects, public transportation and water treatment is a smart and productive use of federal dollars.  

While fairly certain that I'll refrain from taking LivCo Road Commissioner Mike Crain's suggestion,
I believe the majority of Mike Rogers' earmarks will help our district in both the short term and the long term.  

And yet...  

... of the $1.4 million coming to Livingston County, over $800,000 of it is going to Cleary University, a private institution with branches in Livingston and Washtenaw Counties.  

Take a closer look at the way Mike Rogers allocated his earmarks for higher education:


Rogers earmarks


(earmark $/per student)





1,100 students

($727.27+ )



Lansing CC


20,394 students


3rdlargest in MI


Oakland CC


46,579 students


Largest CC in MI; 14th largest in U.S.


So while I'm almost used to Mr. Rogers' general double standards, this little ploy to throw major public money to a minor private institution -- at a time when community colleges are educating roughly 45% of undergraduates nation-wide -- is a new low in hypocrisy.

(cross-posted at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood)

Monday, March 16, 2009

NOW Bill Rogers is FOR Mass Transit?

The Conservative Media has a great post about state Rep. Bill Rogers' sudden interest in mass transit, after he did absolutely nothing to further the WALLY rail line between Livingston County and Ann Arbor as head of the Livingston County Commission.

Check it out here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cleary Should Decline the Earmark Money

If Cleary University President Tom Sullivan really believes what he says his school teaches, he would turn down the $813,750 in taxpayers' dollars that Rep. Mike Rogers secured for him in the Omnibus Budget bill.

On the university's webpage, Cleary writes, "I am especially proud to be affiliated with Cleary University, an institution committed to teaching the American free market economic system, ethical business practices, and leadership skills. Our alumni include small business owners, Fortune 500 executives, mid- and senior-level managers - all solid performers who contribute each day to the promise of America."

If Sullivan really believes in the "American free market economic system" and "ethical business practices," why is he accepting tax dollars? Shouldn't the school be able to make it on its own? Is it an "ethical business practice" for Cleary to say one thing (free market principles!) and do another (feed at the public trough every chance you get)? What sort of example does that set for the "Fortune 500executives" that are supposedly being trained at Cleary?

It seems to me that if the Cleary "Fortune 500 executives" are so successful as a result of their education at Cleary, they ought to be able to chip in enough to pay for the new furnace for the racquetball and basketball courts at the school. After all, if they can afford to pay $150 a head to attend the May 2 fund-raiser at the school, certainly they can pony up a few bucks more for the "geothermal heat pump." That, BTW, sounds really grand until you realize geothermal heat pumps have been around since the 1940s.

And as for the $100,000 for the business incubator, again, free market principles should apply. Turn down the money and show the world how free market principles work so well in the real world. And let the alumni make donations to pay tuition for people who want their kids to go to Cleary while they are still in high school, which is the "dual enrollment" program Cleary is getting $238,000 for.

Cleary should put his mouth where our money is -- turn down the earmarks and go it alone.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rogers Rambles in OTR Interview

Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, gave his first interview on WKAR's "Off the Record" recently and had a hard time keeping his story straight.

Rogers was on the show because he is co-chair of the "Freshman Caucus" formed by the 44 new members of the Michigan House. But under questioning from host Tim Skubick and the rest of the crew, Rogers could give no coherent reason for the existence of the caucus. He couldn't say if the first-year lawmakers will band together and vote as a block on legislation. And he claimed they haven't even discussed it, prompting Skubick to say, "Oh, come on, Mr. Rogers," adding he had talked to other first-year lawmakers who said it was discussed.

Rogers would only go so far as to say the caucus was "going to stop partisan bickering."

He waffled on a question about the pace of the Legislature, saying he thought it was too slow, but lawmakers were busy, but he didn't really disagree with Senate Majority Leader and fellow Republican Mike Bishop's desire to wait until a state revenue conference in May to work on major budget bills, except to say that's not the way they did it in Livingston County. So his answer was, "Yes, No, Maybe."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Oh, the Hypocrisy!

In the 2008 campaign, Democrat Bob Alexander accused Republican incumbent Mike Rogers of Michigan's 8th Congressional District of basically being a hypocrite -- talking one way in the district and voting another way in Washington.

Rogers more or less proved Alexander's point with the recent Omnibus Budget Bill which passed Congress recently week after being held over from last fall.

First, Rogers stuffed the measure full of earmarks for his district, and then he voted against it as wasteful. The Livingston Press and Argus has the story.

The head of the Livingston County Road Commission suggested we give Rogers a "big hug" for including money for an I-96 interchange. He didn't mention that we'd have to drive on some of the worst roads in Michigan to get to that interchange, but that's another matter.

Rogers needs to explain some of the earmarks -- like the ones for the private Cleary College. All he told the newspaper was that he had "no problem" with it. That's not explanatory.

And he needs to explain why his earmarks are for worthy products and why everyone else's are "wasteful."

Nailed It!

Jon Stewart very politely cleaned Jim Cramer's clock last night (March 12, 2009).

Cramer took it bravely and graciously. I suspect he figured out the whole thing would go away if he would just accept the criticism and agree to try to do better.

But with the clips Stewart dug out, what else could he do?

Too bad Stewart had to do the job of Columbia Journalism Review and other media critics.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stewart vs. Cramer -- What's It All About?

As a fan of Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" on Comedy Central, I marvel at the show's ability to reach into what must be a huge archive of video and find relevant clips that contradict what newsmakers are doing and saying today.

Context is important in the news, and part of context is whether people are consistent in what they say and do. Not foolishly consistent, of course. Situations change and adjustments have to be made.

So I enjoyed Stewart's recent compilation of clips that basically showed CNBC to be so clueless about covering the economy. CNBC's Jim Cramer reacted critically over one clip that showed him vouching for Bear Stearns shortly before its stock tanked. Things escalated, with Stewart airing another series of video clips showing Cramer first urging people to buy Bear Stearns stock, then not to take their money out of Bear Stearns, and so on.

Now Cramer is slated to appear on The Daily Show with Stewart. Talk about must-see television.

Stewart has hit on one of my big beefs with business news coverage -- it's entirely too much of a cheerleader for big business, never asking the tough questions for fear the CEOs will stop talking to the news stars, never providing big picture and broad view analysis, instead focusing on which stocks are up and which stocks are down.

So now it's left to a comedian, for crying out loud, to confront CNBC about how it covers business.

Stewart does fake news, but sometimes he does real journalism.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Never to Early to Think about 2010

The folks over at Daily Kos subscribe to the theory that it's never too early to start thinking about the next election. What else can you expect from political junkies?

A post from Tuesday (March 9, 2009) takes a look at congressional districts that split in 2008 -- either supported President Obama and a Republican for Congress, or John McCain and a Democrat for Congress. The suggestion is that the Obama-Republican districts are potential Democratic pick-ups next year.

Michigan has four such districts, including our own 8th Congressional District, which backed Obama for president but sent Republican Mike Rogers back to Washington.

Be a Life-Saver Tuesday in Hamburg -- It Only Takes a Few Minutes

Are you a life-saver but don't know it?

Find out next Tuesday (March 17, 2009) by stopping by the new Hamburg Fire Station (that's the official name of what is usually referred to as the Hamburg Taj Mahal) between CVS and Michigan Rehab between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. to have the inside of your mouth swabbed with a Q-tip and fill out a form.

That's all you need to do to participate in the Hamburg Kiwanis and Patrick Financial Bone Marrow Registration Drive.

You'll receive a token for a free beer at Zukey Lake Tavern and have your name entered into a drawing for four Detroit Pistons tickets just for participating.

Your information will be entered into the National Marrow Donation Program Registry.
If your tissue type is a match with someone who is in need of marrow, you will be asked to simply make a blood donation. The marrow needed will be harvested from your blood.

To participate, you must be between the age of 18 and 60 and meet the health guidelines. Find out more at

Come by Tuesday. Make someone's day. Save their life!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Press and Argus' Moralizing Doesn't Go Over Well Everywhere

The Livingston Press and Argus' moralizing about how other people live their lives and choose to spend their time may sell papers in Livingston County.

But in the rest of the state? Not so much.

Check out the Michigan Liberal's comments on the paper's opposition to later hours for bars.

Actually, I suspect the paper hates the idea because Gov. Jennifer Granholm came up with it, more than anything else. I love the hypocrisy factor of their editorial, too. They're all for getting government off people's backs, not telling people what to do, blah, blah, blah, when it comes to what Republicans support.

Time to Start Lining Up for Pinckney's St. Patrick's Day Parade

Join fellow Livingston County Democrats and supporters of President Obama in marching in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown Pinckney later this week.

The parade will be held at noon on Saturday, March 14. We will begin assembling to decorate our parade car at 11 a.m. in the parking lot of Pinckney Elementary School, 935 E. Mi State Road 36, west of Downtown Pinckney.

Please let us know you are coming by contacting Donna Anderson at

We also hope to participate in the day's bed race. If you have a hospital bed or gurney that Livingston Democrats could use in the race or would like to be part of our team, please let Donna know.

Remember to wear green! The party has green hats for marchers to wear and banners for our county party and President Obama for marchers to carry.

This is a great event to break the boredom of late winter in Michigan. Come out, get some exercise, and have some fun!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Livingston Dems Launch Essay Contest for Scholarships

High school seniors who live in Livingston County have a chance to earn $500 toward the cost of higher education by entering the first annual essay contest sponsored by Livingston County Democrats.

Democrats believe that post-secondary education is the key to our future – both as individuals and as a nation. We also know that a strong middle class, created by America’s labor movement, has been largely responsible for the explosion in access to higher education that occurred in our country since World War II. That’s why we have chosen to start a scholarship program and why the first essay contest will revolve around the impact of organized labor on our families and our communities.

The essay contest offers a $500 first prize and a $100 second prize to be used toward the costs of post-secondary education. To compete for the scholarships, students must submit an essay of between 500 and 750 words on the topic, "Unions have been important to my family and my community because … "

Entries must be postmarked by April 15. A judge from outside Livingston County not associated with the Livingston County Democratic Party will evaluate the essays and determine the winners. Results will be announced in May.

Contributions to the fund for the essay contest prizes have come from organized labor, a few private individuals, and the Livingston County Democratic Party. Major union sponsors so far are the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 252 of Ann Arbor and United Auto Workers Local 1284 Region 1A, but more donations are possible. If donations exceed the value of the announced prizes, the party will either raise the value of the prizes, add prizes, or both.

The fact that in these tough economic times, working men and women are willing to dig deep and help out young people who want to pursue their educations tells us a lot about how important organized labor is to the fabric of our lives and to the values that organized labor instills.

Packets containing letters announcing the essay contest, a copy of the rules, and a flyer publicizing the contest are being mailed this week to social studies coordinators and guidance counseling offices at Livingston County high schools. Any teacher who would like a packet for his or her classroom may contact the Livingston County Democratic Party. Students who live in Livingston County but attend school outside the county may also request a packet, but will need to ask a teacher at his or her high school to validate the entry.

The Livingston Democrats’ Youth Outreach Coordinator, Jordan Genso, will be available to speak to area church youth groups and school clubs about the contest as well. He may be contacted at Information on the essay contest also will can be obtained by contacting the party at or (810) 229-4212.

To be eligible, students must be residents of Livingston County and must be admitted to a post-secondary education program for the coming academic year. Such institutions include a college, university, community college, nursing school, or union apprentice program. In the event the program to which the student is applying has not yet begun accepting applicants, the student should submit a copy of information from the program showing when admission decisions will be made.

The party suggests that students contact their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors or friends to learn what labor union membership and participation may have meant to them. Or they might also contact local business owners to ask how having union members as customers has affected their business.

Essays will be judged on understanding of the material, writing style, and significance of the topic. Each should be a minimum of 500 and a maximum of 750 words in length, typed, double-spaced, on white paper. Students must submit two copies. The cover sheet must list the title of the essay, the student's name, address, and home telephone number, and the name, address, and telephone number of the student's school. If applicable, the cover sheet also should list family member’s union affiliation. The name of a teacher who advised the student on the essay should also appear on the cover sheet. A copy of the student’s acceptance to an institution of higher learning should also accompany the entry, unless the program has yet to begin making admission decisions.

Students should send their completed essays to the Livingston County Democratic Party, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton, MI 48116. Entries must be postmarked by April 15. Winners will be announced in May.

The local party’s goal is to create a foundation broader than the party to solicit funds and select topics for future essay contests that could focus on environmental issues, civil rights, economic opportunity and so on.

Worshiping False Idols

What is it about El Rushbo that sends the GOP into a tizzy? And how do they crank out their apologies to him so quickly? 

The answers to these and other questions can be found in a very funny DCCC post. 

From the Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Separating Church and State

The Republicans seem to be having a little trouble with this concept lately.

Mike Rogers, chairing the NRCC Incumbent Retention Committee for 2010, is chastising Republican members of Congress who "fell away from the flock."

The recent CPAC conference was filled with "true believers."  Rush Limbaugh, self-appointed keeper of the faith, slapped at RNC Chair Michael Steele and actually got a public apology from Steele. 

For a discussion of how the GOP seems to be confusing politics with religion, visit Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.