Thursday, May 31, 2012

If the Law Isn't the Line, Where Is the Line?

The campaign of Republican candidate for sheriff Tom Ash is finding out something Democrats in Livingston County learned a long time ago.

Republican incumbents in Livingston County never break campaign finance laws. It's impossible.

Whether it's a candidate who failed to file campaign finance reports for years or a township that failed to take steps to make sure campaign signs were not put on public property, no Republican officeholder in this county has ever done anything wrong. It's always the law that's wrong. And anyone who points out any potential infraction will be publicly ridiculed.

Ash's campaign complained that incumbent Sheriff Bob Bezotte drove his taxpayer-funded vehicle to a spot where he was campaigning, carrying in it campaign tee-shirts. Not a problem, a lawyer that has represented the county says, because, I don't know, the sheriff's personal car was close by, I guess. Or maybe it was because the vehicle wasn't plastered with campaign signs.

So, if the law that says vehicles furnished by taxpayers can't be used for campaigning is not really the law that is going to be followed here, what is the law? If Bezotte can carry campaign tee-shirts to a campaign event, can he haul campaign yard-signs to a supporters'  houses and drop them off? If not, exactly why is one allowed and not the other?

If Bezotte isn't going to follow the law, what rule is he going to follow?And how does the Livingston County Commission feel about this use of a vehicle they paid for with tax dollars? Are they good with it? I'd just like to know.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Something's Happenening in Livingston GOP

Something is happening in the Livingston County Republican Party.

With a couple days to go until the filing deadline, both incumbent Republican Michigan House members from Livingston County, the Livingston County Sheriff, the Register of Deeds, the County Treasurer, and three members of the Livingston County Commission have primary opponents, according to filings with the clerk's office.

We know something about Harold Melton, the primary opponent of Cindy Denby; Dale Rogers, the primary opponent of Bill Rogers, and the opponents of Sheriff Bob Bezotte. But not so much about the other county challengers, including the one who has dared to challenge Jack LaBelle.

There are also primary opponents in several townships, according to the filings.

Is this coincidence? Is it orchestrated by Tea Party members? Could be an interesting few months.

Brighton Township Man Would Beef Up Livingston Law Enforcement

A Brighton Township man with 33 years of experience in law enforcement and homeland security is seeking to bring his expertise in public safety to the Livingston County Commission.

Bruce Schneider filed his nominating papers as a Democrat for County Commission District 1 with the Livingston County Clerk’s office on Monday, May 7.

"I decided to make my first run for public office because our local office holders are out of touch with county residents," Schneider said.

"Our Livingston County Commission needs more transparency. Our elected officials have forgotten who they work for.  All people should be represented equally and fairly and be able to express their concerns readily."

Schneider said he gained an understanding of the responsibilities of county government during his 27 years working in law enforcement for Wayne County government. He said he is concerned that too few people are aware of who their county commissioner is, let alone what county government does and how it affects their lives.

“I believe in an open door policy and value all opinions and encourage input and ideas from all,” he said. “I encourage a team approach to problem solving and firmly believe in compromise to achieve an end result.”

As a commissioner, Schneider said he would make public safety one of his prime focuses, noting that under the current leadership the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department has lost 18 certified police officer positions, as well as two lieutenant positions, and seven other staff.

"We need more deputies on the road and the county commission needs to allocate the proper amount of taxpayers’ resources so that the Sheriff’s Department can safeguard their officers and the citizens of the county in which they serve. Right now, Livingston County residents are unaware how little protection is being provided," he said.

Schneider said the county is so thinly staffed that little or no back-up exists for individual officers who might run into trouble while on patrol and need assistance from other officers. Having worked in a county government for 27 years, Schneider said he is familiar with grant programs that Livingston County could seek out in order to address this and other problems.

Schneider currently is a member of the Federal Emergency Management Administration National Disaster Response Team.

His career includes 21 years for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, where he rose to the rank of police lieutenant, responsible for traffic patrol and investigations, field training and executive protections with managerial responsibilities for a staff of 110.

Schneider also worked 6 years as a police executive lieutenant for Wayne County Airport Police. In that position, he was responsible for support services, the water rescue team, and critical incident response. As a commanding officer he was responsible for planning and control of the 120- member Airport Uniform Police Division, which had a budget of $5.5 million.

After Sept. 11, 2011, Schneider spent four years working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as an assistant federal security director for the region of northwest Ohio. He had final authority for the full range of managerial responsibilities for a staff of 95 and held a federal security clearance.

Schneider received numerous awards and commendations for meritorious service from the communities and departments in which he served.

Schneider is a member of the Livingston County Red Cross Disaster Response Team and is a past member of the Northwest Ohio Regional Federal Anti-Terrorism Task Force, Toledo Emergency Management Board, Lucas County Ohio Emergency Management Committee, and the University of Findley and University of Toledo Academic advisory committees.  He is a past president of the Adams Elementary (Livonia) Parent-Teachers Association, Livonia Swim Club,   and Lake 13 Farwell Mi. Home Owners Association. He also has coached basketball for 6 years and enjoys a hobby of amateur bee-keeping.

Schneider received a master’s degree in management from Eastern Michigan University in 2000. In 1997, he graduated from Eastern Michigan University’s Police Staff and Command School.

Schneider has been married for 36 years to his wife Amelia. The couple have lived in Brighton Township since 2006 and have three adult children who live and work in the Livingston County area. Schneider is a member of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Brighton.

County Commission District 1 includes the city of Brighton and all of Brighton Township except the southern third, containing the precincts of 3, 5, and 8.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Oceola Township Woman Will Stand Up for Working People on County Commission

An Oceola Township woman who has represented working people for more than 20 years is running as a Democrat for the Livingston County Commission.
Jeanette DiFlorio filed her nominating papers recently with the Livingston County Clerk’s office for County Commission District 2.
DiFlorio is a Full Service Staff Representative who works for Michigan AFSCME Council 25.  She has experience working in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.  Jeanette DiFlorio has over 20 years experience representing the working class in contract negotiations, arbitration proceedings, grievance procedures, contract administration, and leadership development. She has negotiated with a multi-national corporation and in factories, hospitals, public health agencies, mental health agencies, Head Start programs, counties, cities, townships, and a village.  Jeanette has the wide range of knowledge needed to shape decisions for the residents here in Livingston County.  She knows how to read a contract and how to negotiate one when buying services for us with our tax dollars.
"I know the economic challenges that many of our residents here in Livingston County face.  Rising health care costs, higher gas prices, and lower home values have put pressure on everyone’s budget. Although unemployment numbers are down, too many of our neighbors are still underemployed and have not seen an increase in real wages for several years now."
"On top of all this, the state has made budget cuts to our cities, schools and the county while increasing the tax burden on retirees and creating a surplus for their own balance sheet. Our tax dollars need to be spent efficiently to provide the best services possible for the residents of this great county of ours. We deserve more not less, and we want our share of the state’s surplus used for the services in our cities, townships, and schools."
"As County Commissioner, I will fight for Livingston County to get our fair share of funding from the federal government and the state.  Our county is growing and the funding should be distributed appropriately.  Livingston County needs to apply for all available grant money for services in our area."
            Jeanette DiFlorio is a graduate of Harvard University’s Trade Union Program (2010).  She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Antioch University at the George Meany Center (1999) and is currently finishing a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts.
She is the mother of two grown children, Kristina and Michael.
People wishing to volunteer in Jeanette’s campaign may contact her at
County Commission District 2 covers the townships of Oceola and Deerfield, plus Hartland Township Precinct 2, located in southwest Hartland Township.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hamburg Township Man Running for County Commission

A long-time Livingston County teacher and coach has filed his nominating papers to run for the Livingston County Commission from the Hamburg Township area.
Jim Katakowski on Tuesday submitted his papers to the Livingston County Clerk’s office to run as a Democrat for County Commission District 8.
“I believe we should all be active participants in our community,” Katakowski said.
“I believe in providing our citizens with a thriving business atmosphere, safe neighborhoods and roads, a clean environment, as well as excellent schools. As County Commissioner I intend to bring a voice of collaboration to the board of commissioners and look forward to serving all the members of our community.”
Katakowski has lived in Livingston County for 38 years, including 16 years in Hamburg Township. For 30 years, he worked as a special education teacher in the Brighton Area Schools, teaching emotionally impaired and learning disabled students and mentoring them to achieve at the highest level of their ability.
After retiring from teaching in 2005, Katakowski has continued to coach cross-country and track teams at Scranton Middle School. He also coached soccer in Hamburg Township for many years while his children were growing up. In the year 2000, he received the Coach of the Year award from the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association, the first middle school coach to be so honored.
Katakowski has a Bachelor of Science and master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University in speech and language pathology.
His hobbies include running the trails of Bishop Lake Recreation Area, biking on the Lakeland Trail, kayaking the Huron River, golfing on the county’s many courses, reading, and spending time with his grandchildren.
            He is married and he and his wife Mimi raised their four children, now grown, in Livingston County. They have four grandchildren, including three who live in the county.
            County Commission District 8 includes all of Hamburg Township, except Precinct 3 in the northwest part of the township, plus Green Oak Township Precinct 8.