Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kande Talks Health Care in Interview

Kande Ngalamulume was in the spotlight this week with an interview with Walt Sorg on

Kande, who is challenging Republican Mike Rogers in the race for the 8th Congressional seat, takes on Rogers for opposing health insurance reform when so many Michigan residents are out of work -- and thus without health care coverage.

Kande knows the issue well -- he is a former senior analyst for Independence Blue Cross and saw cases first hand where the non-profit provider limited benefits for people whose care began costing more than their premiums.

That's the system Rogers wants to keep.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cherry, Conyers Highlight Dems' Dinner

A pair of top political leaders – Lt. Gov. John Cherry and U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Detroit – will keynote the 27th annual Winans Dinner sponsored by the Livingston County Democrats next week.

Cherry and Conyers will be the highlight of the event being held Friday, May 7, at Lakelands Golf and Country Club in Hamburg Township.

"We are honored to have two speakers coming to our event who have such distinguished records of service to the people of Michigan. Each one is inspiring but the two together will deliver a powerful message designed to drive us to continue fighting for change in November," said Judy Daubenmier, chair of the Livingston County Democrats.

The theme of the event is, "We don’t quit," based on a line from President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union speech.

The event will allow attendees to meet the candidate for the Democratic nomination for 8th District Congress, Kande Ngalamulume of East Lansing, as well as Democratic candidates for the state Senate, state House, and county commission.

John Cherry is in his second term as lieutenant governor under Governor Jennifer Granholm. Prior to being tapped as her running mate, Cherry served more than 20 years in the Michigan House and Senate, where he was minority leader. He was named one of Michigan’s Most Effective Legislators by The Detroit News and in 2005 was named the Conservationist of the Year by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC). He is the immediate past Chair of the Great Lakes Commission and also has served as Chair of the National Lieutenant Governor's Association.

Throughout his career, Cherry has focused on families and education, including heading a commission on higher education and economic growth which underscored the role of higher education in creating and keeping jobs in Michigan. As a legislator, he wrote or co-sponsored several important laws dealing with workers’ rights, environmental protection, and conservation. He and his family live in Genesee County.

John Conyers, who represents Michigan’s 14th Congressional District, is the head of the House Judiciary Committee. Elected to Congress from Detroit in 1964, Conyers is the nation’s second-longest serving member of Congress, behind fellow Michigan Congressman John Dingell. He was present in Selma, Alabama, in 1963 for Freedom Day, was one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus and was one of the original members of the Nixon Enemies List.

As the head of the House Judiciary Committee, he has worked for national health care, has investigated torture in Iraq, and fought the abuses of the George Bush administration.

Ngalamulume, 31, grew up in East Lansing and is a graduate of Michigan State University. He left Michigan after graduation to work for a health insurance company in Philadelphia, but quit his job to return to Michigan and run against Republican Mike Rogers.

The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail hour featuring a cash bar. Besides dinner, the event will include a silent auction. Tickets are $50 per person until April 30 and then $60.

Please contact the Livingston County Democrats at 810-229-4212 by email at, or by mail at Livingston County Democrats, 10321 Grand River Road, Suite 600, Brighton, MI 48116 for more information. Checks may be made out to Livingston County Democrats.

The Winans Dinner is named in honor of Michigan’s first Democratic governor after the Civil War, Edwin Winans of Hamburg Township, who served in Congress before being elected governor in 1891.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Time to Drop Tea Party Fig Leaf

Now that the New York Times has published its poll of tea-baggers, it's time for a tea party name-change -- to the Republican Party.

The poll found that tea baggers are simply Republicans using a different name.

According to the Times:

"They do not want a third party and say they usually or almost always vote Republican. The percentage holding a favorable opinion of former President George W. Bush, at 57 percent, almost exactly matches the percentage in the general public that holds an unfavorable view of him."

Despite the poll, Michigan media will continue to refer to the group as Tea Partiers. The only way the media can justify its overblown coverage of this minority is to let them describe themselves as some new phenomenon.

What would be the news value of covering a Republican rally, after all? Call it a Tea Party rally and it's suddenly exciting.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Back to the Future in Hamburg

Watching the Hamburg Township trustees in action last week feels a little like watching the movie "Ground Hog Day."

Trustees beat up on one of their own fellow Republicans and threaten a recall, throw Clerk Matt Skiba out of office. Rewind and repeat with Treasurer Patrick Evon.

Mind you, these guys are all Republicans. There is no Democrat in this fight. Democrats didn't elect either of these totally incompetent guys and offered two highly qualified opponents who, if they had garnered just a few more votes, would have done their jobs without any of this chaos.

It was Republicans -- including current members of the township board -- who created this mess. In fact, Township trustee Bill Hahn promoted Evon for treasurer back in 2008, taking him around and introducing him to groups and urging people to vote for him against the incumbent Republican in the primary.

How did that work out for Hamburg?

Looking at Evon's performance, you have to wonder how Hahn possibly thought he could have been qualified to do the job. What sort of criteria did Hahn use in deciding to back him?

Now Hahn and the rest of the all-Republican board want Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm to fix Hahn's mistake and kick Evon out of office -- lest voters be constantly reminded whose bad judgment created this mess in the first place.

So now that Hahn, et al have recognized their error, they hope to be able to hand-pick his successor, which we know from the selection of Skiba's replacement will be another Republican.

Hahn owes the public an apology for inflicting Evon on the township.

But don't hold your breath. The last thing he wants to do is remind voters of his role in foisting Evon onto voters in the first place.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jocelyn Benson Already Having Impact

She hasn't even been officially nominated, yet alone elected, but Jocelyn Benson already is helping to make Michigan voting laws better.

Benson, who won the endorsement of the Michigan Democratic Party at a special endorsement convention on Saturday (April 17, 2010), testified in support of a measure to make it easier for voters serving in the military to vote absentee -- a measure that Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law on Thursday (April 22, 2010). The measure allows members of the military serving abroad to receive absentee ballots electronically, something that 32 other states already did.

In her testimony last fall before the House Committee on Ethics and Elections, Benson
noted that voting rates for members of the military serving abroad are much lower than the general population -- 22 percent compared to 40 percent. She compared the process used by New Mexico and Michigan for overseas voters, noting that New Mexico's use of electronic submission allowed its absentee overseas voters to complete the process in eight days, instead of two months in Michigan's case. States such as Minnesota that have allowed electronic submissions have seen voting sharply increase for military members serving abroad -- as much as 400 percent.

Benson noted in her testimony that "while security risks are always a concern, the bottom line is that the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to keep our country secure deserve full and unfettered accessed to the rights and freedoms they are fighting to protect."

That is a key part of the secretary of state's job -- making sure people can exercise their right to vote -- yet the Republicans who have controlled the office for years never bothered to make this change on behalf of the troops they claim to support.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kande: Every Day Should be Earth Day

Kande Ngalamulume has the right attitude -- Every day should be Earth Day and we each need to do our part.

Kande, the candidate for the Democratic nomination for 8th District Congress, turned out in Livingston County Wednesday (April 21, 2010) to help pick up trash in honor of Earth Day.

"People should do whatever they can to make environment sustaining choices in their
everyday lives. ... I believe that everyday should be Earth day. We must focus on changing our habits to become part of the solution," he said.

Picking up trash is part of the job description for someone running against incumbent Republican Mike Rogers. He's left a ton of trash in Washington in the form of eight years of Republican policies that need to be cleaned up.

Even Fellow GOPers Say Snyder Sent Jobs to China

It's not just Democrats saying that Ann Arbor businessman Rick Snyder out-sourced jobs from the United States.

In the debate Wednesday (April 21, 2010) among Republicans who would be governor, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox pointed out that Snyder had sent the jobs of American workers to China when he was head of Gateway Computers.

Not exactly the way to win friends and influence people when you are running on a claim that you know how to fix the Michigan economy.

Out-sourcing jobs may be good for short-term profits, but it's not the key to putting Michigan residents back to work.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Mike Rogers was home this week, but the only people he talked to had to cough up an admission fee for the privilege.

Stop by Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood for the details...

Questions for Michigan's GOP Gubernatorial Wanna-Bes

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer has a top-ten list in advance of the debate among the Republican candidates for governor -- ten questions the Republicans should answer in the debate but probably won't even be asked.

1. All Candidates: Are you a member of the Tea Party?

2. All Candidates: Do you support tougher regulation of Wall Street and corporate CEO compensation?

3. Pete Hoekstra: Why did you oppose efforts to rescue the domestic auto industry in December, 2008?

4. Pete Hoekstra: Why have you voted to make it easier for foreign workers to replace American workers?

5. Rick Snyder: Have you learned how to pronounce "Marilyn Kelly" yet?

6. Rick Snyder: Do you remember how many millions of dollars you made after your company Gateway sent nearly 20,000 American jobs to China?

7. Mike Bouchard: Are you still receiving state-paid lifetime health care benefits as a former state legislator?

8. Mike Bouchard: Have you flown in one of your French helicopters lately?

9. Mike Cox: Do you still believe the Manoogian Mansion party is an urban legend?

10. Mike Cox: Are you enjoying the use of your taxpayer-funded gym?

What a crew -- they backed killing the American auto industry, sent jobs to China, get tax-payer funded health care and want to deny other Americans even a modest reform of their health insurance, and cozy up to some of the most radical extremists in the nation today.

Is This the Time for Rogers to be Sticking up for Banks?

Sometimes, you can only hide your true colors so long.

Mike Rogers has been doing that for a long time, but he finally let his disguise drop long enough for voters in the 8th District to see whose side he really is on -- the side of big banks and Wall Street, the people who brought us the financial meltdown in September 2008 that nearly destroyed the world economy.

Speaking at an event in Livingston County on Tuesday (April 20, 2010), Rogers came out against regulating banks.

According to the news accounts, Rogers believes that "banking regulatory reforms amount to the federal government telling banks how to do business. In the end, he said, that will inhibit business' access to much-needed capital."

Rogers really believes that banks should not be regulated? Seriously? Rogers really believes that after the way banks behaved that they know what is best and can be trusted to do the right thing?

Even Republicans in the U.S. Senate have figured out recently that opposing financial reform is a big loser. But Rogers is sticking to his "free market knows best" approach even as we struggle to get out of the mess that got us into in the first place.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Michigan Dems Put Bob Young On Notice

Former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Cliff Taylor may have slept through his re-election campaign in 2008 (and his years on the bench) but he paid the price when voters put Justice Diane Hathaway in his place -- the first time a sitting chief judge of the Michigan Supreme Court had been defeated.

Taylor was one of former Gov. John Engler's "Gang of Four" justices who time after time had favored corporations over citizens in rulings before the Michigan Supreme Court, regardless of the facts, regardless of court precedents, and based solely on their conservative ideology.

Justice Bob Young is part of the Engler gang that has turned the Michigan Supreme Court into an arm of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, ruling with corporations 80 percent of the time. Young's term is up in 2010, and although Young and his corporate backers won't be sleeping, voters won't be either. If anything, there are even more arguments for removing Bob Young than there were for removing Taylor.

A survey of Michigan lawyers of all types ranked Young the worst justice on the Michgian Supreme Court.

Young's rulings have protected drunk drivers, drug companies whose products have harmed people who took them, even sexual predators who have harrassed women at work. And he prevented Michigan citizens from suing to protect the environment. The MDP has details here.

The Justice Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party will be reminding voters how to vote the non-partisan portion of the Michigan ballot, where judges' names are listed, and underscoring that voting a straight party ticket doesn't include the judges. The caucus made that clear on Saturday (April 17, 2010) during the Michigan Democratic Party's endorsement convention at Cobo Hall.

Trial attorney Geoffrey Fieger fired up the Justice Caucus crowd, saying of Bob Young, "I know evil when I see it." Fieger said, referring to the damage done to victims of Bob Young's rulings.

The message of defeating Bob Young in November, he said, would be that, "In Michigan, justice is no longer for sale."

We did it once. We can do it again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why Have They Been Hiding the Recovery Act Funds?

It's bad enough that Republicans have been lying about taxes going up under President Obama when in reality the 2009 federal economic recovery act cut taxes for 95 percent of all Americans.

But now we find out the Livingston County Commissioners have been sitting on information that $24 million in bonds were available under the same law to help local businesses.

The county commission had designated Livingston County as a recovery area awhile back, making the county eligible for the bonding. WHMI carried a story on the matter at the time, but then the matter disappeared.

On Thursday (April 15, 2010), Livingston County Commissioners finally got around to telling people who could take advantage of the bonds that they even existed. And they only did it because the local chambers of commerce brought people together at a summit on the new economy.

Commissioner Jim Mantey made a brief announcement about the recovery act bonds from the floor during the question and answer period. Afterward, he was "immediately swamped" with people wanting more information. He wasn't even part of the agenda, didn't have detailed material, only suggested people call the county offices or the Livingston Economic Council for more information.

Why hasn't the county commission been doing more to get the word out on the existence of these bonds? Is it because the all-Republican board hopes the recovery act (and President Obama) fail? Or are they simply lacking in the imagination and drive to lead our county in the 21st century?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Economy Summit: Heresy for the GOP

The Livingston County summit on creating a 21st Century economy had a lot of bad news for our county's way of doing business -- cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes and hope people move here so they can drive 40 miles to work.

That's so yesterday -- according to both speakers at the event on Thursday (April 15, 2010) sponsored by the area chambers of commerce.

More than 300 people crammed in to the event to hear a pair of speakers explain that members of the next generation -- the Millenial Generation -- have a different set of values from the baby boomers. They want communities that are vibrant and interesting. They are highly environmentally conscious. They are mobile, willing to move to interesting places even without a job and regardless of the cost of living or the tax rate. They think spending $400 a month on a car and driving long distances to work is a waste of money.

All that must have sounded like heresy to Livingston County Republicans who want only to brag about low tax rates and stand in the way of any kind of change. Yet the speakers said Livingston County must attract young people, with their entrepreneurial spirit, because the new economy will be based on attracting one or two jobs at a time rather than landing a big manufacturing plant that will solve all our problems.

Dan Gilmartin of the Michigan Municipal League said that members of the Millenial Generation are marrying later and having children later -- as much as 10 years later. And they go out twice a week, which over 10 years amounts to about 1,000 nights. Does Livingston County have 1,000 nights of interesting things for them to do? If not, they won't move here, he said.

Transportation alternatives, he said, have to be at the top of Livingston County's list. "If we don't figure out transportation, nothing else matters," he said. Pointing to a proposed rail line between Livingston County and Ann Arbor, he said, "It will light your economy on fire."

Glenn Pape, of the Land Policy Institute at Michigan State University, said young people want more diversity in their quality of life, not just the suburban model of Livingston County. They want to be able to hike and bike after work, to have a downtown to walk around in. He said that is what will revive Livingston County's economy, "not industrial parks, not low wages, not low taxes."

Businesses, he said, are looking for young, educated people, not low costs and low taxes.

Not low taxes?

Good luck selling that to the Republican leaders of this county, the county commission that has turned its back on contributing to a study of a rail line between Livingston County and Ann Arbor.

The new economy summit was only the first step. Meetings are planned May 5 at Three Fires Middle School and June 16 at Crystal Gardens to talk about writing a strategic plan to take advantage of Livingston County's assets for the new economy.

We can't let the same old people, with the same old ideas, write the plan. Plan to attend and contribute your ideas.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Doing Taxes? Your Refund Probably Bigger--Because of Obama

As the deadline for filing federal income taxes approaches, you'll probably be hearing a lot from the teabaggers about the terrible burden of increased taxes under President Obama.

Don't believe it, because it's a lie like everything else they scream.

Thanks to the recovery act passed a year ago (and opposed by Rep. Mike Rogers) 95 percent of Americans got a tax cut. Yes, a tax cut.

The recovery act contained a cut in federal income taxes that will amount to as much as $800 a year for a married couple. That's a real cut, and you probably have been receiving it throughout the year as your withholding rate was cut. And if you bought a home you probably took advantage of either the first time home buyers tax credit of up to $8,000 or the long-term home owner's credit of $6,500.

But there are more. There also is a a tax credit of up to $2,500 for college expenses for you or your child. Did you make energy improvements to your home -- 30 percent of the cost, up to $1,500, is available in a tax credit.

If you bought a new vehicle, the sales tax and other fees are tax deductible, for a vehicle costing up to $49,500.

If you received unemployment benefits, the first $2,400 were exempt from taxes last year, thanks to the recovery act.

And a $1,000 per child tax credit was made available for more families.

The savings can up to thousands pretty quickly. If you want to see how the recovery act applies to you, visit this Obama site.

And remember, these are tax cuts that Mike Rogers opposed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Bernero Buzz in Advance of Convention

Candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010 have a big weekend ahead of them. The endorsement convention sponsored by the Michigan Democratic Party Saturday (April 17, 2010) at Cobo Hall only covers the offices of Secretary of State and Attorney General. But that doesn't mean the gubernatorial candidates won't have a chance to shine.

All three -- Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, House Speaker Andy Dillon, and Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith -- will take part in the gubernatorial forum Sunday morning at Cobo Hall. And you can bet all three will have people working the crowd at the Jefferson-Jackson fund-raising dinner on Saturday night as well as at the convention.

But Bernero seems to be the one trying to generate some buzz in advance of this big gathering.

This week, he emailed supporters and potential supporters to remind them that his endorsement by the Michigan AFL-CIO represents more than 500,000 workers and retirees in 50 labor unions. And the email says that "will mean boots on the ground and people power throughout the state."

Bernero also touted the fact that a push poll of sorts by EPIC-MRA shows him in the lead. Respondents picked Bernero over Dillon, 29 percent to 24 percent, after hearing a brief biography of the two candidates. The email didn't mention Smith.

It's early in the week, and the other two candidates may have something to say to grassroots Democrats before the convention rolls around. But at this point, Bernero seems to be the one talking to the people who will vote in the August primary.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dow Passes 11,000 -- But Socialism Is Near!

One question that is never asked of all those people claiming the country is on the verge of socialism is, why is the stock market higher than it's been for 18 months?

If the government were about to take control of the means of production -- that's what socialism is, after all -- wouldn't the value of all the stocks in the country plunge to zero? Wouldn't investors believe they were throwing their money away by buying stock in companies that were about to be forcibly taken over by the government?

Yet Monday (April 12, 2010), the stock market passed 11,000 for the second trading day in a row.

Seems to me, capitalism is doing pretty well.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Time to be Part of the Solution -- Come to Livingston's New Economy Summit

Livingston County needs a new economic strategy. Actually, I'm not sure it ever had one, other than hoping people would move here from other places. But better late than ever.

That's why, as members of the Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce, the Livingston County Democratic Party has been watching plans for the New Economy Summit planned for April 15. The Livingston County Press and Argus has a rundown on the event.

The goal of the summit is to lay out the process for writing a strategy for developing Livingston County's economy in light of the realities of the 21st Century, including the loss of manufacturing jobs. Organizers want everyone to be involved -- not just a few business leaders, but a true cross section of our community. Writing that strategy will take nine months or more, but this is the time to find out what steps are involved and how you can contribute.

The summit is scheduled for 7:30-9:30 a.m. at Crystal Gardens banquet center, 5768 E. Grand River Ave. in Genoa Township. The chambers of commerce in Howell, Brighton and Hartland and the Michigan State University Land Policy Institute are sponsoring the event.

The event is free (and includes a continental breakfast) but organizers are asking people to register. Contact the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce at (517) 546-3920 or at; the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce at (810) 227-5086 or at; or the Hartland Area Chamber of Commerce at (810) 632-9130 or at

As the Press and Argus editorial noted, "If you are one of those people who would rather help shape a community than complain about what 'they' are doing, this would be the time to get involved."

So get off the sidelines and come to this event. Our county needs your ideas and volunteer efforts.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Mike Cox and the Tea-Baggers Want to Repeal

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox thinks he can make headway in the Michigan gubernatorial race by getting in bed with the far-right extremists of the tea-bagger movement by trying to block implementation of the health care reform measure in Michigan. Cox and his buddies are trying to scare the public into believing the health care is somehow a threat to motherhood and apple pie.

In reality, blocking the measure -- through a lawsuit that Cox has filed or by trying to get voters to approve a ballot issue as the tea-baggers want -- will mean a lot of suffering for a lot of Michigan residents.

Organizing for America has prepared an on-line video summing up what health care reform really means for people in Michigan.

The reforms are so common sense -- many based on Republican ideas dating back to the 1994 health care reform debate -- that it's hard to see why anyone would oppose them. Which explains why the right-wing extremists had to make up lies about 16,000 armed federal agents coming to your door to enforce the law.

It's easier to say that than to admit you are against making sure sick kids get insurance coverage or giving tax breaks to small businesses to pay for health insurance premiums.

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates to Be At Form

Want to see all three Democratic candidates for governor together at the same time?

Virg Bernero, Andy Dillon, and Alma Wheeler Smith will participate in a gubernatorial candidate forum on Sunday, April 18, at Cobo Hall in Detroit. The event, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., will feature questions from the audience and will be moderated by Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer.

The event includes a continental breakfast. Tickets are $20 if purchased on or before April 12 and $30 after that.

You can buy tickets in advance here.

This is the first time all three will be together so don't miss out!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sign of Spring -- It's Time for Roadside Clean-Up

You can tell spring is near. Not only is March Madness over, but it's time to clean the clutter from our roadsides under the Michigan Department of Transportation's roadside clean-up program.

Livingston Dems will meet at 8 a.m. on Sunday, April 11, in the parking lot of Ironwood Golf Course, 6902 E. Highland Road, in Hartland Township. Safety vests, bags, and sticks for picking up litter will be provided, but people should wear sturdy shoes or boots and bring work gloves. Rest assured, however, you will not be handling roadkill.

You may call Jan to confirm at 248-887-5745.

Remember -- breakfast together afterwards tops off the hour or so of morning exercise.

Rain date is Sunday, April 18.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fed: Michigan Economy Grew Faster Than Rest of Nation

Economists have been telling us that the nation's economy stopped getting smaller and started growing again last July. And the conventional wisdom has been that Michigan is behind the rest of the nation in recovering.

But the Philadelphia Federal Reserve has released a map showing economic growth by states over the last three months.

And it shows Michigan led the nation in economic growth, with economic activity growing at a rate of more than 1 percent -- the only state in the nation with that high of a growth rate.

Not the end of our troubles, but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.