Monday, October 8, 2012

Livingston County to Get $400,000 For Enbridge Easement?

Does it look right?

At one meeting, Livingston County residents are complaining to the all-Republican Livingston County Commission about their treatment at the hands of Enbridge as it builds a new pipeline through Livingston County.

At a later meeting, Livingston County is considering a $400,000 payment from Enbridge for a permanent easement across the Spencer J. Hardy Airport property for the same pipeline -- a payment that the airport desperately needs to make good on a deficit-reduction plan it was required to submit to the state to explain how it would cover a hole in its budget. The county airport had been asking for $500,000 to cover the airport red-ink.

The payment, to be considered by the County Commission's Finance Committee at its 7:30 a.m. meeting Wednesday, is for 11.72 acres of airport land, as well as for the temporary use of 6.98 acres of airport property during construction and reduced use of the airport during the construction period, according to the resolution prepared for the committee.

How hard did the county negotiate, since Enbridge knew the county needed the money from selling off airport assets in order to cover its past deficits?

Meanwhile, at its Sept. 26 meeting, the commissioner heard complaints from residents along other portions of the pipeline route about Enbridge, as well as from an Enbridge official. Although the minutes say that commissioners "asked that they (Enbridge) deal with the citizens fairly," is it possible one side carried more weight?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Town Hall Monday in Howell on Ballot Proposals

The 2012 ballot is crowded with proposals. Don't be confused by all the television ads. Come to the town hall on ballot proposals sponsored by Livingston County Democrats to get the facts!

The event will be Monday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Howell Opera House, 123 W. Grand River, in downtown hall.

Livingson County Democrats have taken positions on five of the six ballot proposals. Speakers have been invited to speak in support of those positions.

On Proposal 1, the referendum on the Emergency Manager Law. Livingston County Democrats recommend you vote NO in order to reject the law. Speaking on that position will be former state representative Nick Ciaramataro, now legislative director with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 25.

On Proposal 2, Livingston County Democrats are suggesting that you vote YES in order to protect working families. Mary Aldecoa, president of the Fowlerville Education Association, will speak in favor of that position.

On Proposal 3, Livingston County Democrats have taken no position. This proposal would amend the Michigan Constitutional to require 25 percent of the state’s energy to be generated by alternative means by the year 2025. Robert Marc Gordon representing the Sierra Club will speak in favor of Proposal 3 and James Harrison, national representative for Region 4 of the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, will speak against.

Proposal 4 would amend the Michigan Constitution to set up a home health care council. Livingston County Democrats recommend a Yes Vote. Speaking in favor of it will be Andrew Krebs Coalition Organizer for Keep Home Care A Safe Choice.

Proposal 5 would amend the Michigan Constitution to require a two-thirds vote of the Michigan Legislature for passing any tax increases. Livingston County Democrats recommend a NO vote. Lynn Jondahl, a former state representative from East Lansing, will speak about why you should vote NO.

Proposal 6 would amend the Michigan Constitution to require a public vote for construction of a new international bridge. Livingston County Democrats recommend a NO vote. Jordan Genso, a member of the Livingston County Democratic Executive Committee, will speak on that position.

The event is free. Call (810) 229-4212 or email for more information.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Democratic House Candidates Shine in Livingston Debate

The following is a guest post from Livingston County's Communications Guru.

The Livingston County Press & Argus sponsored a debate on Tuesday, Sept. 25th, at Cleary University featuring candidates for the Michigan House from Livingston County’s 47th District and the new 42nd District.

Unfortunately, this will be the only debate now that Livingston County no longer has a League of Women Voters chapter. Shawn Lowe Desai, the Democratic Candidate for 47th District was the clear winner over the Republican incumbent. He was knowledgeable, energetic and framed his arguments well.

I thought it was a tie between Shanda Willis, the Democratic candidate for the 42nd District and incumbent Republican Bill Rogers; at least until near the end of the 60 minute debate. I have known and respected Mr. Rogers since he was on the Livingston Board of Commissioners, but I was disappointed and shocked at his take on Proposal 2 on collective bargining and the Governor’s veto of the three voter suppression bills in July. His spin on the worst two-year budget in Michigan was short on facts, but there is a big difference between lies and spin.

Mr. Rogers claimed his office got a call from a unionized police officer who said he heard Prop 2 would shrink their ability to collective barging by eliminating binding arbitration, and his office confirmed it was true. That is simply not true. He also has no idea how a union forms or he is misrepresenting it. He should be aware that workers can fire a union and decertify a union at any time with a simple majority.

His most egregious claim came when he was asked what action the Governor took that he was most disappointed over. He said it was the Governor’s decision to veto Senate Bills 754 and 803 and House Bill 5061 that were part of a package aimed at suppressing the vote that most disappointed him. He claimed the Governor vetoed bills that won unanimous support. That is, again, not true. All three bills were hotly contested, and the bill that got the most support only passed by a vote of 67-43.

The two-year budget cycle has led to an unprecedented tax shift from business to individuals; specifically the middle class. The change in the business resulted in a $1.8 billion business tax cut. On the other hand, the changes to the individual income tax resulted in a tax increase of $1.7 billion. The elimination of most all of the tax’s credits and deductions and taxing pensions will resulted in a net tax increase for individuals. Funding for K-12 education was reduced by more than $800 million, reflected primarily in a $470 per pupil cut in the foundation allowance, and funding for Michigan’s universities saw a 15 percent reduction in the first year Republicans controlled the House. The current budget restored what amounts to an increase of $100 in the foundation grant, but $470 minus $100 is still a cut.

That one reason a recent poll last week for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV showed voters want Democrats to take over the House in November. The poll showed generic Democratic candidates outpacing generic GOP ones by 13 points. However, with gerrymandering that does not mean Democrats will take over the House.