Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Voters Deserve a Choice -- It's Time to Think About Running for Office

Livingston County residents who are interested in running for office on the Democratic ticket are invited to attend the party’s 2012 Candidate Recruitment Night on Thursday, March 1.

The event will feature two guest speakers – Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, and Derek Dobies, a former Livingston County resident recently elected to the Jackson City Council.

The event will be at 7 p.m. at party headquarters, 10321 Grand River Road, Suite 600, in Brighton.

"We are delighted to have with us two speakers who can share their expertise about the political landscape in Michigan and some of the ins and outs of campaigning," said Judy Daubenmier, chair of the Livingston County Democrats.

Meadows leads the House Democratic Caucus’ candidate recruitment effort. He will speak about the importance of electing enough Democrats in November to retake control of the Michigan House and how Livingston County fits into that picture. Dobies will share some of his experiences in putting together his winning campaign in 2011 and how that can be translated to other local races.

The November 2012 ballot will feature contests for Michigan House seats in District 42 and District 47; all nine seats on the Livingston County Commission; countywide offices of prosecuting attorney, sheriff, county clerk, county treasurer, register of deeds, and drain commissioner, and positions in Livingston County’s 16 townships, including supervisors, clerks, treasurers, and trustees.

Candidates must file by 4 p.m. May 15 in order to have their name appear on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.

"Sometimes people think politics is not important, but politics affects every aspect of our lives – the quality of our schools, the quality of our environment, the roads we drive on, our families’ health, the services available in our local communities, and the taxes that we pay. We live in a democracy and voters always deserve a choice at the ballot box. As Democrats, we are looking forward to providing voters with that choice," Daubenmier said.

"The 2012 election promises to be a great year to be running as a Democrat with President Obama and Senator Debbie Stabenow at the top of our ticket. Democrats will be energized about the need to re-elect both of them after seeing how Republicans in Washington have wanted to slash Medicare and attacked women’s access to birth control, and refused to recognize the growing inequality of wealth in this country. At the state level, people are turning away from Republican rule after the GOP has slashed school spending, taxed senior citizens’ pensions, and cut help to our most vulnerable citizens. This energy will translate into more support for Democrats farther down the ballot."

Besides the two speakers, the meeting also will feature information about how the local party assists candidates and other resources that are available for training and fund-raising. Previous candidates also will be on hand to talk about their experiences.

People wishing more information may call (810) 229-4212 or email

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Asked to Help Auto Industry, Romney's Firm Refused

With all the ink that's being spilled in Michigan newspapers over Mitt Romney and his non-stop dancing on the auto industry rescue, some facts are still being lost.

As The New York Times pointed out Monday (Feb. 20, 2012), Romney's claim that the federal government should have let private equity firms come up with the money doesn't hold water. The article states:

"To go through the bankruptcy process, both companies needed billions of dollars in financing, money that auto executives and government officials who were involved with Mr. Obama’s auto task force say was not available at a time when the credit markets had dried up. The only entity that could provide the $80 billion needed, they say, was the federal government. No private companies would come to the industry’s aid, and the only path through bankruptcy would have been Chapter 7 liquidation, not the more orderly Chapter 11 reorganization, these people said.

"In fact, the task force asked Bain Capital, the private equity company that Mr. Romney helped found, if it was interested in investing in General Motors’ European operations, according to one person with direct knowledge of the discussions.

"Bain declined, this person said, speaking anonymously to discuss private negotiations."

So Romney says private equity firms should have provided the $80 billion required to rescue the firms. But his own private equity firm wasn't interested.

In other words, Romney had a chance to put his money where his mouth is, and didn't. He had a chance to help out the key industry in his own state, in a way that he says is the only way the industry should have been helped, and he refused.

As Gov. Jennifer Granholm said, Romney stabbed us in the back in our hour of greatest need.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Really? Drilling in the Great Lakes?

Water is a crucial part of the identity of the state of Michigan. Water defines many of our state boundaries. It lies in lakes and ponds and runs in rivers on our state's surface. It's stored not too far beneath the surface of our state, too. We drink it, fish in it, swim in it, boat on it, use it for manufacturing and tout it in attracting tourist dollars. We couldn't live without it. It's part of what makes us different from other states.

So you would think that our members of Congress would understand that Michigan residents take it seriously. They want to protect it.

Not Mike Rogers. The 8th District Republican actually voted last week to allow drilling for oil in the Great Lakes. Lance Enderle, the only announced candidate for the Democratic nomination to oppose Rogers, jumped on that vote with a news release pointing out that Rogers' vote conflicts with his statement in 2010 that he "firmly opposes" drilling for oil in the Great Lakes.

As Enderle's news release points out, 30 million people depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water and another 1.5 million people have jobs, resulting in $62 billion in wages every year, because of the Great Lakes, according to a study by Michgian Sea Grant at the University of Michigan. Of those jobs, 525,886 are in Michigan.

And after the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the 2010 pipeline spill into the Kalamazoo River, Rogers wants to jeopardize that?

It would be Pure Michigan no more if Rogers has his way.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When Good News Is Bad News

A few more glimmers of hope are shining through the clouds that have enveloped our economy for far too long. These little bits of good news are clearly bad news for Republicans.

The recent news includes:

--A nearly four-year low in first-time claims for unemployment benefits.
--A rise in new home construction to start the year.
--A rise in consumer confidence, even among those still without jobs.
--Hefty profits in the auto sector, including a record $7.6 billion by GM, along with large profit-sharing checks for their employees.

Yes, there is bad economic news out there, too, and the recovery could be faster, but the good news is welcomed by most people. The exceptions? People like the remaining candidates for the Republican presidential nomination who are now making appearances in the state in advance of the Feb. 28 primary. Mitt Romney, for example, has the task of explaining why his prediction that a rescue of the auto industry would be its deathknell was so wrong.

While Romney does his explaining, GM and its employees will be paying taxes to Uncle Sam and the state of Michigan on profit and income that wouldn't have existed were it not for the rescue.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Should Michigan TV Viewers Brace for Negative Barrage?

Michigan voters find themselves in the spotlight in the days running up to the Feb. 28 presidential primary. And that could be bad news for TV viewers.

Mitt Romney's willingness to pour millions of dollars into negative advertising helped him defeat Newt Gingrich in Florida's primary earlier this year. Will he do the same in Michigan now that he finds himself trailing Rick Santorum?

The Santorum campaign clearly thinks so, based on the ad they are airing in the state. If so, voters will be treated to an onslaught of nastiness that may well turn them off about both candidates. One consolation is that it will all be over on Feb. 29.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Michigan Presidential Primary -- Now It's for Dems Too

The Feb. 28 Michigan presidential primary is getting more interesting compared to just a few weeks ago.

For one thing, Michigan Democrats are now being encouraged to participate. The primary, created by the majority Republicans in the Legislature, will cost taxpayers $10 million. Michigan Democrats had argued that in tough economic times, taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the nominating process and urged both parties to hold caucuses instead. Michigan Democrats have scheduled their caucuses for nominating President Obama for May 5.

The Republicans refused to go along, and to disguise the fact that the $10 million primary contest is just for their party, added President Obama's name to the ballot against the wishes of the MDP. If the president asked his name to be removed, there was a chance his name would not be on the ballot in November because of the way Republicans wrote the law.

Since party rules don't allow people to participate in two nominating contests, there was a chance people who voted in February wouldn't be able to participate in the party's own caucuses in May. So earlier this month, the Michigan Democratic Party changed its rules so that its members are free to participate in both the primary and the May 5 caucuses. But since it is a closed primary, voters must request either a Democratic or Republican ballot.

That requirement may deter some people from crossing over and voting in the other party's primary, which is definitely not something the MDP is advocating. But the temptation to do so may be greater for some people now that Michigan native Mitt Romney seems to be losing his commanding position in the race.

On Monday (Feb. 13, 2012), for example a new poll out from ARG shows Rick Santorum with a six-point lead over Romney in Michigan.

People like a horserace so it's possible people will be drawn to vote in that primary, especially since they know they can still support President Obama in May.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Snyder and Republicans Micro-Managing Students' Degree Choices

Rick Snyder thinks he knows what your college major should be. He's so sure of that, that he's going to tie state aid to your university to how many Michigan students major in the areas he deems important.

That's one thing that's obvious from the 2012-2013 budget Snyder is unveiling Thursday (Feb. 9, 2012). According to the Detroit Free Press article in advance of the speech,, Snyder's proposed 3 percent increase in higher education funding will be tied to: "growth in the number of undergraduate degree completions, the number of undergraduate completions in critical skills areas, the number of undergraduate Pell Grant recipients, and compliance with tuition restraint."

It's the "number of undergraduate completions in critical skills areas" that is particularly offensive. Who will determine what a "critical skills area" is? And how are universities supposed to react if students decide they aren't much interested in Snyder's favorite "critical skills areas"? Not everyone is cut out to be an accountant or engineer or nurse, or whatever the favored occupations that Snyder will select, but students may find themselves pushed in those directions.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Firestorm Over Hoekstra, Chrysler Ads Show Republicans Don't Get It

The post-game chatter over two ads from Sunday's Super Bowl -- the Chrysler ad featuring tough-guy Clint Eastwood talking about the toughness of Americans and Pete Hoekstra's ad making fun of Asian Americans -- both carry the same message about today's Republican Party.

Republicans are out of touch with average Americans. Not just in the way Republicans, with their focus on the wealthy, are always out of touch, but in a new way.

The Republican attempt to tie politics to Eastwood's ad for Chrysler talking about the determination of an American company and its workers to rebound comes across as sour grapes. In their hatred of President Obama, Republicans have decided to attack everything, even basic American values, if it will hurt Obama. And that's what the Chrysler ad was about -- the value of hard work, of sticking to it when the going gets tough, of pulling together as a community when part of it needs help. Republicans used to value those things about America, but since supporting those values might possibly imply something good about Obama, they now have to attack them.

Hoekstra's ad is also out of touch. The candidate for the Republican nomination to oppose Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan relies on racial stereotyping while apparently forgetting that few Americans find racial stereotyping acceptable anymore. Ethnic humor has been out with comedians for years. Who tells jokes to their friends about the Polish, for crying out loud? Young people today are growing up in a world where those sorts of boundaries between people are much less important. Their world is more diverse than their grandparents' world and they are comfortable with it. Support for diversity is becoming a basic American value.

Republicans seem to be decades behind the rest of the country in that regard, judging from the way Hoekstra is continuing to defend his ad.

Who would have thought that the party which prided itself on support for American values would find itself attacking so many of our values?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Should Government Officials Tell Us What to Pray For?

Big government has come to Howell, government so big that its leader thinks it should tell people what they should pray for, and what they shouldn't. And it's being brought to us by people who think ... government is too big.

We're talking about Phil Campbell, Howell mayor, who last week on his "official blog" announced a "personal, non-city-affiliated prayer chain." Claiming that he was acting as a "private citizen," Campbell asked that people sign up for his email list and once a month he would send them instructions of what to pray for.

That's right. A government official is now going to be telling people what they should pray for. And presumably, what not to pray for. But, of course, he would be doing it not as mayor but as a "private citizen" who just happens to be mayor.

The mayor-who-is-really-just-a-private-citizen took a little criticism for this and may have had a little change of heart. His blog no longer is described as his "official blog" but merely "the musings of some guy blogging about his hometown." As if that wording change means he is still not an elected official telling people what they should pray for.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with people praying for their neighbors and community, but do we really want -- or need -- a government official telling us what to pray for? And isn't it possible to imbed a political agenda into those prayer requests? Will Campbell ask people to pray that gays be treated equally by everyone in Howell, for example? I doubt it. Will he ask people to pray that a measure backed by other council members be defeated? Will he ask people to pray that his political opponents lose their elections? Will he use the emails on his prayer chain to solicit support in a future campaign of his own?

If Campbell wants to ask people to pray for him in his job as mayor, that's fine. But things get dicey when a government official decides to tell people exactly what it is they should be praying for. That's what religious leaders are for, not government officials, even those who insist they are merely private citizens.