Thursday, December 31, 2009

Complaining About Educating Students Until 18?

The Hartland Consolidated Schools official couldn't possibly have said what the local paper says she said. Or if she did, surely it was taken out of context.

I mean, a school official complaining about having to educate children until they are age 18 -- what is up with that? Isn't that what schools are for?

Janet Sifferman, superintendent of Hartland Consolidated Schools, is quoted by the Livingston Press and Argus complaining that Michigan legislation designed to help the state compete for $400 million in federal funds would raise the legal drop-out age from 16 to 18.

Sifferman complained that requiring students to stay in school until age 18 would cost too much money because, the newspaper said, "the state would have to fund schooling for would-be dropouts for another two years."

Using that logic, let's lower the legal drop-out age to 12 and save lots of money.

I've heard complaints before that schools sometimes push out students they don't like, intentionally creating drop-outs rather than trying to prevent them. But I've never heard that lowering your per pupil count, on which state-funding is based, was a way to balance your budget.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Should Michigan Give Its Water Away?

Alaska has a lot of oil, and it doesn't give it away. Michigan has a lot of water, and it shouldn't give it away, either.

Alaska state government rakes in plenty of revenue from the oil it sells to the rest of the United States and elsewhere, enough so that residents get a check from the state government. The state actually charges companies royalties for taking its oil.

Water is just as vital a commodity as oil. Yet Michigan doesn't tax the water that companies take from here to sell elsewhere.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry says the state should impose a 10-cent a bottle fee on the water corporations bottle here, according to a Lansing State Journal article. That kind of royalty would raise $118 million a year.

There will be lots of Republican whining about another tax. And the bottling companies are going to threaten to take the jobs elsewhere. But are there lots of other places with so much extra water that they're giving it away? And why do Republicans want to ship our water elsewhere for free?

If Alaska can charge for its oil, Michigan can charge for its water.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So How Big Is the Commissioners' Pay Cut?

Livingston County Commissioners are claiming to be putting together a lean budget for 2010, according to the Livingston Press and Argus.

The sheriff's department is cutting more deputies, to the point that if you need to report a crime you may well have to drive to the sheriff's office to do it because no officers will be able to come out to the scene.

So my question is, how big is the pay cut the nine Republican county commissioners are taking in their $15,000-plus annual salary?

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's a Little Late to be Worrying About This

A far-right Republican from Livingston County says he's running for governor of Michigan because the Republicans in the race aren't conservative enough.

Bruce Nichols says he wants to "sway the party to the right," according to the Livingston Press and Argus.

And the head of the Livingston County Republican Party says most people agree with Nichols about veering farther to the right. Mike Murphy says "we can't be fanatical either."

It's too late for that. The Republican Party passed that line a long time ago, what with making up lies about government death panels, phony birth certificates "proving" President Obama was born in Kenya, and on and on.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fighting Hunger in Livingston County

The formation of a new group to fight hunger in Livingston County was announced last week. The Livingston County Hunger Council will try to eliminate hunger in the county through food stamps, community gardens, and nutrition programs.

Hunger in Livingston County? Who knew?

Until the holidays roll around, hunger in Livingston County is rarely mentioned as a problem. This despite the fact that funds for Meals on Wheels, serving our senior citizens, have been cut even as demand at local food pantries has risen.

The new group includes people like Michelle Ounanian, program director of Gleaners Community Food Bank, and people who want more information can call her at (313)923-3535.

The effort is being run by the Livingston County United Way. Where are the Livingston County commissioners? Don't they care about hunger? Why isn't hunger a priority for them?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rogers Wishing Away Climate Change's Effects

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers must believe in fairy tales. If he wishes hard enough for something, it will come true.

Right now, the Brighton Republican is wishing that climate change would go away, but anyone with a brain knows that won't happen. Climate change, and its devastating effects on the global, our economy, and our lives, can only be halted by action, not by wishes.

Nevertheless, Rogers has grabbed on to a trumped up scandal over emails from a few British scientists to try to claim that the burning of fossil fuels is not impacting our climate -- the polar ice cap isn't melting, ocean levels aren't rising, and everything is just fine.

But wishing doesn't make it true. The U.S. Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency know that. They call climate change a threat to our national security and have developed steps to reduce it. Thousands of scientists working at climate research centers all over the world agree on the extent of climate change, the human role in causing it, and the need to do something about it now.

Among the findings are these:
--The world's oceans have risen by about an inch and a half.
--Droughts and wildfires have turned more severe worldwide, from the U.S. West to Australia to the Sahel desert of North Africa.
--Species now in trouble due to climate change include the polar bear, butterflies, frogs and huge areas of North American pine forests.
--Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer than the dozen years leading up to 1997, far faster than what scientists expected.
--Water polluted by carbon in the Canadian Arctic is threatening the marine food web.
--Rainfall in the United Kingdom has shattered all records, exactly as predicted by climate change research.
--Heat, drought, and winds at levels never seen before are sweeping across eastern Australian, exactly as predicted by climate change research.
--So far, this decade is on the way to being nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s, an acceleration from the 0.14°C increase over the 1980s.
--The world’s glaciers shrink for the 18th year at a rate twice the rate of two decades ago. The University of Zurich’s World Glacier Monitoring Service report in 2006 and 2007 the world’s glaciers lost 2 meters (2000 mm) of thickness on average. They note, “The new data continues the global trend in accelerated ice loss over the past few decades.” The rate of ice loss is twice as fast as a decade ago.
--The U.N. weather agency says greenhouse gases, thought to be responsible for global warming, reached record highs in the Earth’s atmosphere in 2008.

Mike Rogers would like to wish all that away. But when your friends are big oil companies, that's to be expected.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Is Criticism Getting to

I wonder if is noticing that people are disappointed with their product.

The cheap-looking web-page design does nothing to inspire confidence. Nor does the fact that so many experienced journalists are gone from the old Ann Arbor News and that the publication now restricts itself to Ann Arbor.

I ask because I noticed a large billboard in Ann Arbor earlier this week bragging that has 35 professional journalists with a combined 407 years of journalistic experience.

I wonder how many the Ann Arbor News had? The billboard doesn't say, of course.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cherry to Visit at Livingston Dems' Holiday Party

A Cherry will be at the Livingston County Democratic Party's annual holiday potluck on Saturday (Dec. 5, 2009).

No, not Lt. Gov. John Cherry, but his sister, Sen. Deb Cherry.

The event will begin at 4 p.m. at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton, MI.

Bring a dish to share and a donation for Gleaners Community Food Bank or the Adopt-a-Family program.

The food is always great!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

And They Say There Isn't a Problem with Health Care in This Country

If the American health care system is so great, why is it people in Livingston County are forced to have a spaghetti dinner and bake sale so that one of their friends can afford to be be treated for lung cancer?

With all the stress involved in being treated for a deadly disease such as cancer, worrying about how to pay the bills for the treatment is one thing that people in a wealthy country like the U.S. should not have to go through.

I just know all the county's tea-baggers will show up and make a donation to help the individual involved.

Senator Whitmer to be Special Guest at Local Dems' Holiday Party

Time to break out your copy of "Get Cooking with Livingston Dems," find your favorite recipe, and fix it to bring to the Livingston County Dems' annual holiday potluck.

The potluck will be Saturday, December 5, at 4 p.m. at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton. Bring a dish to share and a donation of cash or food for Gleaners Community Food Bank or cash for the Salvation Army's Adopt-a-Family program. We'll provide the rest.

State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing will be a special guest at the potluck. This is your chance to mingle with Whitmer who is rumored to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for attorney general in 2010.

And another person interested in the nomination -- Richard Bernstein, a member of the Wayne State University board of governors -- is scheduled to speak at the Livingston County Democratic Party's executive committee meeting on Thursday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Democratic Nominee for Hamburg Clerk Offers Stability, Civility

A long-time Hamburg Township resident with a background in accounting and business is the Democratic nominee for the Hamburg Township clerk’s position in the February 23, 2010, special election.

Annette Koeble of Whitmore Lake was nominated by the Hamburg Township Committee of the Livingston County Democratic Party. She filed her papers with the Livingston County Clerk’s office last week.

"I have been attending Hamburg Township board of trustee meetings for more than two years and have familiarized myself with the issues facing our township. I am certain that I can bring professionalism, competency, common sense, and civility to the office. As clerk, I will be focused on serving customers – our residents – and on moving our township forward," Koeble said.

Koeble was one of the three finalists for the interim clerk position interviewed by the Hamburg Township board of trustees on Friday.

Koeble served as a member of the Hamburg Township 2009 Focus group which put together the police and recreation millage proposals approved by voters in November.

"Throughout my career, I have tried to focus on being a member of a team. I consider myself to be a good listener, someone who is able to trouble shoot problems, and most importantly, to get the job done in a timely manner. I possess excellent organizational skills and I know how to prioritize and manage multiple tasks," she said.

Koeble’s work record shows the stability she would bring to the position of clerk. She has been office administrator with Turner Electric Service Inc. of Dexter since 1985, where she has been responsible for accounting, payroll, personnel files, billing, liaison with banks and bonding companies, insurance matters, and financial analysis.

From 1976 to 1985, Koeble held positions as office manager, estimator, and billing clerk for companies in the construction field. She also taught secondary school in the Jackson area from 1972-1974.

Koeble has a bachelor of science degree from Eastern Michigan University. She has been married to her husband, Bob Koeble, for 24 years and has lived in Hamburg Township since 1982.

She has served as treasurer of the Livingston County Democratic Party since 2007.
Anyone interested in volunteering for Koeble’s campaign may contact her at

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How Low Will Livingston County Conservatives Go?

Even in tough times, you would think that people would be compassionate toward children.

You would think that, unless you read the Livingston County Press and Argus' comments by Republican Rep. Bill Rogers regarding the closing of a preschool for at-risk kids due to state funding cuts.

"Some things had to go and, unfortunately, that was one of them at this time," Rogers said. "When you're making any kind of cuts, someone somehow is going to get hurt."

In other words kids, suck it up. We can't ask anybody to pay a few cents more in taxes -- not the oil companies who get double the tax exemptions of other businesses in this state, nor the tobacco companies that peddle flavored tobacco to our teen-agers in hopes of getting them hooked on cigarettes later.

Not an ounce of compassion for four-year-old children.

Nor was there any compassion among the commenters on the story, who proceeded to attack the parents who sent their children to preschool in hopes that they would have a better start in life. Commenters called the program free baby-sitting and accused the mothers of not wanting to be bothered to raise their own kids.

That's the face of conservativism in Livingston County -- ugly and mean even toward children.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Local Media Stiffs U.S. Senator, Gushes Over Celebrity

The U.S. Senate has been called the most exclusive club in the world -- only 100 people. They wield considerably more power than the 435 members of the U.S. House. They have the power to ratify treaties with our nations that can affect the global balance of power, deployment of our military might, the balance of trade, and the future of our climate. They say yes or no to presidential choices to head cabinet agencies or represent our nation abroad. They determine who will sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, with its broad powers to interpret the law of the land. And with the filibuster, and the ability of just 40 of them to block legislation, they have more than an equal say in the passage of legislation.

So you would think that when one of the members of this powerful body stops by Livingston County, it would be news. You would think that with health care hanging in the balance, climate change and clean energy legislation on the horizon, debate rising over U.S. policy in Afghanistan, and the recent horrific shooting at a military base still fresh, that a newspaper would want to find out what the U.S. senator thinks about such matters.

But, in the case of the Livingston Press and Argus, you would be wrong. The newspaper couldn't be bothered to rearrange its schedule when Sen. Carl Levin stopped in Livingston County to salute our veterans on Saturday, Nov. 7. What they missed was Senator Levin publicly answering any and all questions on matters such as health care, in public, without reservations.

Yet when a defeated Republican vice presidential candidate, whose campaign fled the state in humiliation a year ago rather than try to compete for Michiganians' votes, who abandoned the post of governor of Alaska that she campaigned for, shows up clear across the state to sell books in order to line her own pockets -- the Livingston Press and Argus thinks that is big news.

This is not the first time that the local newspaper has snubbed Senator Levin. It did the same in October 2008. Democrat or Republican, he still represents the state.

Onw wonders who sets the agenda for reporting at the Livingston Press and Argus -- and exactly what their agenda is. It certainly is not covering the news fairly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Little Ray of Sunshine

Ford Motor Co.'s third quarter profit was good news earlier this month, and now General Motors Corp. is following up with a little ray of sunshine of its own.

It plans to pay back $6.7 billion it borrowed from the federal government four years early, according to the Detroit Free Press on Monday (Nov. 16, 2009).

A year ago, things were pretty dark in the auto industry, but we're not on the brink anymore.

Was He Not Paying Attention?

We keep hearing what a great job the Livingston County Board of Commissioners does here in Livingston County. Apparently, it's a job you can do without paying too much attention.

One commissioner, David Domas, says he didn't know that a county department head was losing her job. Barbara Swain had been the county's human resources director for six years until losing her job last week.

Domas says it was never discussed at any commission meeting he attended. So what gives? Did he skip a bunch of meetings, despite being paid more than $15,000 for the job? Did the layoff really take place without the full board voting on it?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cherry Campaign Puts up Video Bio of Lt. Gov.

If you don't know much about Lt. Gov. John Cherry, you'll want to check out the new video bio that his campaign has up on youtube.

It features photos, set to music, of Cherry's life and career as a political activist, conservationist, and legislator. It's a succinct summary of a long career of activism. We hope Lt. Gov. Cherry will be visiting Livingston County soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Add Your Voice for Clean Energy Jobs!

Now is the time to speak up for more jobs for Michigan -- clean energy jobs that won't be shipped overseas and that will prevent climate change and preserve our planet for our children and grandchildren.

Repower Michigan is collecting thousands of citizen voices in support of clean energy and climate legislation in a virtual "Repower Wall" available at the Repower America website.

You can join average citizens as well as leaders in business, faith, the military, and science and the environment by uploading your own message.

The wall is part of a multi-pronged strategy that includes a television advertising campaign as well as online media and grassroots organizing. It is being organized by the Alliance for Climate Protection's Repower Michigan campaign.

Michigan residents posting messages are excited about the prospects for a clean energy economy in the state and its potential for more than 54,000 jobs. Not only will it revitalize our economy, but it will break our dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our national security.

Messages from the wall have become part of television commercials supporting a clean energy economy. New versions of the ad will feature other messages from the wall. The wall already includes messages from more than 12,000 individuals and messages from more than 40 leading corporations and non-governmental organizations. These include Fortune 500 Companies such as Nike, Gap, Inc., Avon, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Staples, eBay and Exelon.

Voices from Michigan include people such as Norris Turner, a retired autoworker from Southfield: "It is so important that we have clean energy. Now is the time to clean up the air and we have to be more concerned about our environment. Let's do it, and let's do it now."

To learn more about the effort and view the television ads, visit the campaign web site:

Monday, November 9, 2009

Livingston Dems Present Lap Robes to VA Hospital

Some three dozen patients at the Veterans Administration hospital in Ann Arbor will have a little extra warmth thanks to the hands of Livingston County Democrats.

Party members presented lap robes they have been making this month to a VA official on Saturday (Nov. 7, 2009) during a luncheon honoring local veterans. Beverly Leneski, head of chaplain and voluntary services at the VA, said the robes are distributed to VA patients along with toiletries and personal items collected by the local party.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Senator Levin Joining Local Dems in Honoring Veterans

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin will join members of the Livingston County Democratic Party in honoring area veterans at a luncheon set for Saturday, Nov. 7.

The Michigan Democrat will be at the luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event, which is open to all veterans regardless of party affiliation, will be held at Livingston County Democratic Party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600 of the Fonda Office Park in Brighton.

As chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Levin has worked hard to ensure that our troops have had the resources and the support they needed to do the job. Throughout his career, Senator Levin has put the morale and welfare of our military forces and their families front and center.

Also speaking at the event will be Beverly Leneski, head of chaplain and voluntary services at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor. Party officials will present Leneski with lap robes members have been making for VA patients.

There is no charge for the event.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ford Tries to Turn Its Good News into Bad News

It's good news these days when one of the Detroit automakers turns a profit -- especially one as large as the $1 billion quarterly profit that Ford Motor Co. reported recently.

But you've got to wonder what the company was thinking as it simultaneously announced the profit and asked its workers for more concessions, especially after its CEO refused to make concessions of his own regarding his salary.

If the top brass doesn't need to take a pay cut during profitable times, why do the workers? The company never answered that, so it's no wonder Ford workers turned down the concession package.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Remember to Vote Today!

Take time to vote today in important local races around the county.

Brighton City Council and Brighton Area Schools board seats are being filled today. And who can forget the Hamburg recall election?

Polls open at 7 a.m. today and close at 8 p.m.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Stop on by the Neighborhood for Mr. Rogers' latest PAC-Man adventure.

Nuclear Waste? Not a Problem--to DTE

The recent Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce Energy Summit and Expo paid a lot of attention to being "green" -- talking about green energy credits, reducing energy consumption, etc.

But the key note speaker, David Harwood, was a glaring exception. Hardwood is DTE Energy's director of nuclear developoment. His topic -- DTE's application to build another nuclear plant.

According to Harwood, all the problems with nuclear plants have been solved. In fact, he doesn't even include a slide on the nuclear waste issue in his presentation. And he had a bit of a smirk on his face when it was brought up.

There is no problem with nuclear waste, he said, except that the politicians won't decide where to put it.

How about we put it in Harwood's backyard?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Interstate Traveler System Sounds Good

Whitmore Lake visionary Justin Sutton was the star of the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce Livingston Energy Summit and Expo held Friday (Oct. 30, 2009) as he explained his transportation system that he proposes to be built along the interstate highway system.

How could he not be the star? Promising a 200 mile per hour transportation system that will generate solar power, purify water, process sewage, and produce soil for growing food -- all with zero emissions -- while creating thousands of jobs, and providing billions in annual revenue to federal, state, and local governments without costing taxpayers anything -- I mean, how do you top that?

The system is highly visionary. I'll certainly take Sutton's word for its technical feasibility. He knows the science. I sure don't.

I do wonder about a few things. For example, in May 2008, Sutton told an interviewer that he was "on track to break ground in 2009."

When I asked Sutton about that, he said he is ready to break ground, but is waiting for the state to give him the go-ahead. He also said he has offers from around the world to build the system but is waiting for Michigan because he wants to give his home state the first chance to build this system. And he insists the financing is in place from "railroad bonds" and from his 180 partners. I would think his 180 partners might be getting a little antzy to accept one of those other offers instead of waiting for Michigan.

Sutton told the energy expo that a proposed Detroit to Ann Arbor line would generate $2 billion a year in revenue and half would be paid to the government, split among federal, state and local government, as well as entities such as museums and libraries.

"We will become a very, very important taxpayer in the nation," he said.

In other words, he and his private company would become a very powerful person in state and local government. Before Michigan turns over so much power to one group, it needs to know exactly whom it is dealing with. Sutton certainly loves Michigan and is putting his state's interests first, but he won't live forever or even necessarily be in charge forever. The public needs to know a little more about who is behind him. Sutton graciously said I could visit his office and see the list of investors. I intend to follow up. I like to look before I leap.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Livingston Dems to Honor Area Veterans

Livingston County veterans and their families are invited to a luncheon and program on Saturday, November 7, as a token of appreciation for their great sacrifices. The event, sponsored by the Livingston County Democratic Party, is open to any veteran of military service regardless of political party.

"We owe our veterans a great debt and this is a small attempt to recognize that," said Judy Daubenmier, chair of the Livingston County Democratic Party.

The soup and salad luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton. The luncheon will be followed with a speech by Beverly Leneski, chief of voluntary and chaplain service at the Veterans Administration hospital in Ann Arbor.

Local Democrats also will present Leneski with lap robes which party members have been making for VA patients and personal items which the party has collected for them. Party members have been meeting the last two Sundays to make lap robes and will meet again on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 2 p.m. at party headquarters. No sewing skills are required, only the ability to cut and tie.

Reservations for the luncheon are not required but people interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP so that enough food will be available. People may call (810) 229-4212 or email There is no charge for the luncheon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Republicans Backing a Tax Hike

It can happen, even in Livingston County.

The all-Republican board of Hamburg Township is backing a tax increase.

An increase in the millage to support the Hamburg police department to 1.5 mills from 1 mill is on the ballot for the election on Tuesday, Nov. 3. The tax hike is expected to cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $50 a year.

Police services are vital, but so are other services, like schools. Too bad more Republicans can't bring themselves to step up to protect vital services.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flaws of School-Funding Proposal A Now Evident

One of the crowning achievements of John Engler's tenure of government is turning out to be as flawed as opponents said it was at the time it was passed.

Proposal A, which was supposed to reform school financing, did nothing of the sort.
Instead, it established an unstable funding mechanism for schools and perpetuated inequality among school districts.

That was evident this week when Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed some $50 million in state aid for some of the richest school districts in the state, to partly counteract a deficit in the school aid fund.

The fund, dependent on sales taxes, has seen its flow of revenues fall below projections as cautious consumers have stopped spending money. All school districts have been given a $165 per pupil cut in state aid and might get another cut before the end of the month.

As Republican lawmakers refuse to consider more revenue for the fund, Granholm decided to find some by taking $51.5 million in state aid from 39 of the richest school districts -- many of which are suburban Detroit districts represented by Republican lawmakers. Many of affected districts receive $4,000 per pupil more than do districts in Livingston County.

So much for Proposal A closing the funding gap among the state's richest and poorest districts.

Livingston County's Republican lawmakers have been silent on this issue. Do they agree with the cuts to the richest districts in order to spare deeper cuts for our schools here in Livingston County?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why are we so Arrogant that we Believe we Know more than the Nobel Committee?

I read a lot of opinions yesterday about President Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and to be honest, it really shows how ignorant we are as Americans when it comes to foreign affairs. So many people kept asking "what has he done to deserve this?" And they want others to convince them that the Nobel Committee made the correct choice.

That premise alone is illogical. The burden can't be on others to show why the right person won. The onus has to be on those who feel President Obama shouldn't have won to give us reasons why not. And the only way that opinion can be logically valid is if they state who they feel should've won instead. If they don't provide the name of someone more deserving of the award, their opinion means nothing.

The analogy I have been using is such: Let's say Rwanda had a beauty pageant (similar to our Miss America or Miss USA contests), and the winner was crowned "Miss Rwanda". And then you see a photo of Miss Rwanda, and you don't feel she is that beautiful. If you take the stance that she did not deserve to win, when you have no idea who the other contestants were, your opinion is ignorant. That's not to be mean, it's just the truth- you have no knowledge of the competition, so your conclusion about the results is ignorant. But then, to say "convince me why she deserved to win the 'Miss Rwanda' title" is even more unreasonable, as there is no practical way to do so.

Now I am not saying that President Obama was the right choice. My opinion is that I can't think of anyone more deserving, so I am not going to second-guess the Nobel Committee. It's fair to say that they were more aware of all of the possible choices for this award, so they were in a better position to make the decision. And if I did want to second-guess them, the burden would be on me to say why they were wrong. The only way I could do so would be to state who I feel should've won it, and then have a discussion comparing their actions to those of President Obama.

If you can't think of anyone more deserving of the NPP than President Obama, on what basis do you second guess the people (arguably) in the best position to make the decision?

But to provide an argument in favor of choosing President Obama, here is a more informed individual than I, making a case as to why the right choice may have been made.

And in regards to what President Obama said in his speech yesterday, saying he does not feel that he deserves to be in the company of the past winners, that is a fair statment. It is a valid statement though because he has knowledge about the past winners. If someone made that statement, not knowing anything about the previous selections, their opinion would be ignorant.

We as Americans should be honest with ourselves, and just admit that we don't know whether or not President Obama was the best choice.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stand Up for Gay Rights on Sunday

Local churches and organizations will stand up for the rights and dignity of gay people on National Coming Out Day Sunday (Oct. 11, 2009) at the Mill Pond Gazebo in Brighton.

The 12:30 p.m. event is a chance to stand up in solidarity with people who are targeted because of their sexual identity. The philosophy behind it is that no one should be dehumanized through acts of exclusion, oppression or violence.

The event is part of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.and promotes respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Other supporters of Sunday's event include St. Paul's Episcopal Church and PFLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Come Help Make Lap Robes for Vets!

It's really simple. You don't even need to know how to sew, just how to cut with a scissors and tie knots.

That's all the skill required to make something that veterans in the VA Hospital in Ann Arbor really need.

Please come and spend a few hours on Sunday, October 11, making lap robes for veterans. We have the materials. All you need to bring is your hands and heart.

For those of you who knit or crochet, we also will have yarn available if you prefer to make a lap robe that way.

We will gather at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, at Livingston County Democratic Party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton, to work on the robes.

Please find a couple hours in your schedule to give to helping out veterans who have given so much for us.

Monday, October 5, 2009

On-Line News Source Debuts in Livingston County

There's a new on-line source for news in Livingston County., started by some former Livingston Press and Argus staffers, debuted last week. There are some technical glitches to work out, but it is up and running and looks far better than, the relic of The Ann Arbor News, which has corporate money behind it.

Here's wishing LivingstonTalk the best. There's plenty of news in this county and we can use more people covering it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

After 'Garbage,' Some Lifestyle Changes

The Livingston County Dems' movie night on Friday (Oct. 2, 2009) was popular once again, and not just because of the ice cream sundaes.

People left with something to think about--namely, all the trash we generate and where it goes.

The documentary focused on a family that was asked to save all its garbage for three months and then track the way different components of it was disposed of by visiting recycling plants, composting facilities, and dumps, including ones in Michigan where out-of-state trash finds a home.

Everybody left thinking about what little lifestyle changes we can make that can add up if everybody does them -- remembering my grocery bags so I don't accumulate more plastic bags, turning off my computer when not in use to save power, looking for products with less packaging.

And on top of that, we accumulate a good pile of toiletries to help out patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Garbage -- Where Does It All Go?

Movie nights are returning to the Livingston County Democratic Party’s fall schedule on Friday, Oct. 2.

The party will show a lively and entertaining documentary that takes a look at what happens to all the garbage families throw out or recycle week after week. The documentary follows a family that was asked to save every bit of their trash – from baby diapers to plastic water bottles – for three months and then tracks what becomes of it.

This film includes an upclose and personal look at the impact of importing Canadian trash in to Michigan, as well as the effects of coal-mining on families in West Virginia.

The video will be followed with time for discussion and then a dessert bar featuring ice cream and all the trimmings.

The showing, which is open to all, will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton, MI. Donations of $10 per person or $15 per couple will cover the cost of projector rental and refreshments.

In addition, the party asks attendees to consider bringing a toiletry item for a donation drive to help patients at the Veterans Administration hospital in Ann Arbor. We will be collecting items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream, and razors throughout the fall to take to the VA hospital as part of our Veterans Day observance.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Good for Stabenow!

Sen. Debbie Stabenow was taking no crap from Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee on Friday (Sept. 25, 2009).

Check out what she told Sen. John Kyl of Arizona, who wanted to cut maternity coverage from insurance policy coverage.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Were the Birthers All Busy?

Livingston County Republicans are demonstrating just how far right they have become with their choice of a speaker for an upcoming event.

Joe the Plumber, who is not really a plumber at all, will give the keynote address at a November dinner. You can spend $50 to hear him ($100 if you want to get up close and personal at a VIP reception).

But why would anybody spend $50 to hear him when they just heard him for free at the teabagger hate-fest at the mill pond earlier this month?

Why invite him back?

Was birther queen Orly Taitz booked?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who's In Control of Livingston County Commission?

Sloppy management is in evidence again with the Livingston County Board of Commissioners.

The latest incident involves the dispute over paying half of the $11,000 for an administrator to attend a management course at Harvard University. Last April, the commissioners thought the employee was paying for it, but this summer she submitted a bill for half, the commission agreed to pay it despite complaints from three commissiones, and then the employee withdrew the request for reimbursement. Did something happen after April that the public doesn't know about? Why the change of heart?

Earlier this summer, another former county employee was arrested for allegedly taking funds from the county for health care benefits that weren't owed her. She had convinced the county commission to get rid of a third party that handled the benefit payouts and put her in charge. With no oversight, the allegations say, she was able to submit phony requests for reimbursement for herself and the county paid them. So who was in charge of that fiasco?

It's becoming increasingly obvious they don't have their act together.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday in the Fall--Marxist Football Day!

It's a gorgeous-looking September morning and if it stays this way, it will be a perfect afternoon for that great American tradition -- college football.

But I imagine the crowds at the stadiums of the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, and so on, will be much smaller this year. What with President Obama now in office and everything related to government suddenly becoming marxist and socialist and all.

I don't expect any of those tea baggers will be sitting in those stadiums cheering the teams from the "government schools."

Guess we'll have to cheer for Notre Dame and Northwestern from now on.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Joe Wilson--a Republican Doing What Republicans Do

Anyone who watched President Obama's awesome speech last night couldn't miss the Republican behavior -- highlighted by Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina's shouting that the president was lying.

As we know from the last few weeks, that is all Republicans have to offer in this debate about rising health care costs -- name-calling and shouting. Now that it has been done by a member of Congress in a formal setting, Republicans can no longer disassociate themselves from the right-wing fringe. This is the heart of their party. If Republicans can't act civilly in one of our democracy's most hallowed chambers, do they belong there at all? Why should anyone take them seriously as people trying to solve the problems our nation faces?

Rep. John Dingle put it best when Huffington Post asked for his reaction to Wilson's rudeness. "Well, you've got to understand: They're Republicans. They're just doing what comes natural," he said.

Wilson apologized afterwards, but it's too late.

Independents and moderate Republicans need to ask themselves why they want to be associated with people like that.

Come Hear Jocelyn Benson Sunday

Jocelyn Benson, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State, will be back in Livingston County Sunday. If you missed the bang-up job she did as a speaker at the Winans Dinner in May, this is your chance to see her.

Benson will be at a fund-raiser for her campaign on Sunday (Sept. 13, 2009) at the Livingston County Democratic Party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton. Tickets are $30 a person or $50 for a paid. The event will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Benson is a dynamo who has great ideas for making voting easier here in Michigan and making the state a leader again in this area.

It's That Time Again--Roadside Cleanup Sunday

This Sunday (Sept. 13, 2009) is your chance to do something to help the environment. And to enjoy fellowship and breakfast with Democrats afterwards.

Join Livingston County Democrats at 8 a.m. Sunday for the quarterly roadside cleanup along a two-mile stretch of M-59. Meet in the parking lot of the Ironwood Golf Club, 6902 E. Highland Road.

We'll have the safety vests, bags, and sticks.

In the event of rain, the date will be Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some Things Left Out of Tea-Bagger Coverage

Funny how reporters managed to overlook the uglier aspects of the tea-bag express rally in Brighton on Tuesday (Sept. 8, 2009).

Where was the mention of the huge sign depicting President Obama in African dress, tapping in to old cultural myths about the inferiority and savagery of tribal cultures? Or the buttons being sold depicting Obama as the sinister-looking master-criminal Joker character from Batman, playing in to whites' racial fears of urban black men? Or the sign calling Obama a "Muslim marxist"?

No mention of the man who asked one of our Jewish members, "How do you spell 'Auschwitz?'" -- an implied threat.

Nor any mention of the man who tried to grab our bull horn away, of the men who felt free to poke us in the chest with their fingers or otherwise touch us without our permission. Or the teabaggers who told two of our members standing near the mill pond that it would be a shame if they ended up in the pond.

Nothing about the man who walked past us and shouted that we should have "retroactive abortions."

Or the three people who at various times were shouting, "Kill Obama."

Real nice people, just concerned citizens.

Nor was there any mention of the more stupid aspects of the rally -- The elderly people obviously on Medicare saying they don't want government involved in health care. Do they really not know that Medicare is run by the government?

Or the people chanting, "No health care." They don't want any health care at all? Really? They would actually let a parent or child die rather than seek health care?

And no mention of the thoroughly debunked, "Obamacare is genocide for the elderly" claims.

How pathetic. Livingston County presented a pretty ugly face to the country, and despite claims to the contrary, it was orchestrated by the increasingly extremist Livingston County Republican Party, which promoted it heavily.

Moderate independents and Republicans in this county need to take a close look at the ugliness at the rally and ask themselves if that's what they want to be associated with.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How Things Have Changed Since 1986

Just to make things more entertaining, here is the text from the speech that President Reagan broadcasted to classrooms across the country when he was in office.

Remember all of those liberals at the time throwing a hissy-fit about this? No? Probably because it didn't happen.

Oh how I wish President Obama was giving a similar speech. It would provide days, maybe even weeks-worth of priceless video from psycho conservative (is that redundant?) parents. If President Obama's benign speech results in parents acting like the one in the link below, a policy speech would surely cause them to act in a manner which makes Glenn Beck look somewhat sane. Hard to imagine, I know.

When President Says Work Hard, Livingston Parents Say Don't Listen

Things have sunk pretty low when parents don't want their kids to listen to anything the president says.

Not even work hard, do your homework, try to make something of yourself even if you don't have much money or think you don't have any opportunities. (The text of the speech is here.)

That's pretty much the classic Horatio Alger story that America is supposed to be built on. But if it comes from a Democratic president who happens to be half black, Livingston County parents label it "indoctrination" somehow aimed at destroying our freedom.

What next -- no photos of President Obama allowed in classrooms because it encourages hero worship?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Does Anybody Remember Terry Shiavo?

As Republicans opposed to health care reform rant and rave about government being involved in our lives, we all should remember one name -- Terry Shiavo.

Who was it that wanted government involved in our lives back then?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Livingston Dems Plan Rally on Health Care Reform to Counter Tea-Baggers

Livingston County Democrats are planning a loud and proud counter-rally when the Tea Party Express rolls into Brighton on Tuesday (September 8, 2009).

Democrats plan to gather at the Mill Pond in downtown Brighton at 3 p.m. to express their support for health care reform -- including requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, holding down exploding health care costs, creating a government option to provide low-cost competition to the corporations that are gouging consumers with exorbitant premiums, and covering the uninsured.

We don't want to be confrontational, but to be a rational expression of support for health care reform.

Plan to join us!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rogers Talking Out of Both Sides of Mouth on Health Care

Rep. Mike Rogers has perfected the art of talking out of both sides of his mouth on the health care issue.

During his telephone "town hall" meeting held without advance notice so people could not stay home and wait for the call, Rogers pushed two completely contradictory lies:

--Health care reform will force you to lose your private health insurance and force you into a government health care plan.

--Health care reform will force you to lose your government health care plan known as Medicare.

Rogers' scaring of senior citizens with his lie about Medicare is shameless. But if government health insurance is as bad as he says it is, should't he be telling senior citizens that they should be glad to be getting rid of Medicare? He's not.

If goverment health care is so bad, why does Rogers keep it for himself?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Newspapers and the Web

I really would like to comment on articles on the Livingston Press and Argus' website from time to time.

But I am really tired of trying to log in and being told that my session has timed out. Over and over again. Day after day.

But if I could log in, I would comment on the Livingston County Board of Commissioners' inability to control its own staff, as shown by its decision to pay for a training session for an administrator that it had previously been told would not be charged to the county, referenced in this letter to the editor.

The $5,300 is almost as much as the $6,000 that the county commissioners had budgeted for veterans' relief, until they were caught by the county Veterans Commission ignoring state law and were forced to begin levying a small millage.

What a screwed up set of priorities and lack of oversight.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Conservative Death Wishes for Obama

Sen. Ted Kennedy, the brother of two assassinated political leaders, was always a marked man -- the target of every kook who wanted to be known for getting the last Kennedy brother.

So as we mourn his death due to natural causes, it's appropriate to note that the torch of being a marked man has been passed to a new generation -- specifically, to President Obama.

With sickening frequency, opponents of President Obama are suggesting that he should die or that they would like to shoot him.

For example:

The pastor of a man who brought an assault rifle to an Obama appearance in Phoenix, Arizona, prayed the day before the event that Obama would die and go to hell.

A Republican gubernatorial candidate in Idaho has joked about getting a license to hunt Obama.

And then there was the man who held up a "Death to Obama, Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids" sign at a town hall meeting.

And a Democratic lawmaker received a fax with a picture of Obama made up as the Joker with the words "Death to all Marxists, Foreign and Domestic."

Let's not forget the armed protester who showed up outside an Obama event with the sign referencing Thomas Jefferson's quote about the "tree of liberty" needing to be watered with the blood of tyrants.

Or the man carrying a knife who made it past security into an Obama town hall meeting and was found to have a loaded gun in his vehicle.

With so much public talk linking death and Obama, it's no wonder that the Secret Service is dealing with 30 death threats a day against the president's life.

The Idaho congressman may think it's just sarcasm to joke about getting a license to hunt Obama, but the danger is that this constant linkage of Obama and death will come to be seen as a call to action by some kook. With multiple authority figures, including a politician and a preacher, endorsing Obama's death, somebody may decide to be the hero who does what others are calling for. Add in the lunatic claim that Obama is not a legitimate president because he supposedly wasn't born in Hawaii, and there is even further "justification" for some nut case who thinks he's a real "patriot" to take action.

The Secret Service does a better job than they did in the 1960s, but even they make mistakes. And if the kooks can't get to Obama, there are plenty of members of Congress who would be easy targets, especially with commentators like Glenn Beck acting out an assassination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Political assassination is not funny. Conservatives are playing with fire and we could all get burned.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cash for Clunkers Doing What It Was Supposed To

There's been a lot of Republican griping about the Cash for Clunkers program. The complaints are downright ridiculous -- that the cost of used cars was going to be driven up, for example. As if getting rid of 700,000 cars in a nation that sells from 10 million to 15 million cars every year would make much difference. Or that used car parts would increase in cost, as if junk yards were not full of decades of car parts. Or that people who bought them can't afford the new car payments. As if credit weren't so tight now that even good risks have trouble qualifying.

The Detroit Free Press for Saturday (August 29, 2009) has a brief round-up of the impacts of the program.

One of the complaints has been that the program only moved up sales that were going to occur later. But of my three relatives who bought cars, none was planning to until the cash for clunkers came along. Someday they were going to have to buy a new car for a child or for themselves, but they weren't thinking, "Oh, we'll do it in November or next spring." But when cash for clunkers came along, they acted, and put money into the economy.

One relative told me the sales person said he had been in the car business for 15 years and in his best month he had earned $10,000. But in the last month, he had earned $49,000. He'll probably spend a chunk of that money at local restaurants and businesses.

And that's what we need right now. Not more Republican griping.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Republicans Must Hate This

Backers of a movie production studio broke ground in Allen Parkon Thursday (August 27, 2009), just as Michigan Republicans press to kill the tax cuts that made it possible.

I guess timing really is everything.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remembering Ted Kennedy

Only a few Americans ever met Ted Kennedy, but millions of us know him well. As a member of a famous political famiily, his life story has been told and re-told along with that of his brothers in magazine articles, books, and documentaries. The public always had a huge appetite for everything Kennedy. It wasn't just that they were a powerful political family. It was that their humanity always showed through. Their marriages, deaths, divorces, the things we all endure in our own lives, were always carried out on a public stage. They were America's first and longest running reality show. Everybody could relate.

The weekend's television lineup will probably be heavy with tributes and recaps of Kennedy's life, as it should be, and some of that will probably rehash the Kennedy glamour.

But I hope what comes through are some of the ways Kennedy touched our lives with his political accomplishments -- fighting for civil rights, raising the minimum wage, transforming high school and college athletics by opening the door to women under Title IX, S-Chip to provide health care for children, creating Meals on Wheels, fighting for Medicare and Medicaid.

Ted Kennedy could have done whatever he wanted with his life. Lucky for us that he chose public service.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Imagine v3.0

Imagine for a moment that you are in the top 1% of the population in terms of wealth. You make $10 million a year in income and bonuses. Most likely, you are very business-wise. You know what decisions will maximize your wealth, and you act accordingly.

Healthcare reform starts to get mentioned, and it appears that your taxes may increase as a result. Nothing huge, maybe only 1% higher. From 35% to 36%. This is still far lower than when Reagan was President (the highest tax bracket paid at least 50% from 1981-1986), but it is a slight increase from the tax policy since 2003 (although still lower than taxes from 1993-2002, when our economic growth was strong).

So you make $10 million a year. That 1% tax increase is $100,000. What do you do? Do you say “alright, I’d prefer not to, but I can afford the extra $100,000 in taxes”, or instead do you think “I have to find some way to prevent this tax increase”?

Going on the assumption that you are business-minded, you’re going to take the decision which makes most sense to your bottom line. So if the alternative to paying that $100,000 in taxes is to contribute $50,000 to a lobbyist group to pressure members of Congress to eliminate the tax increase, it is something you would consider. If you realize that other wealthy individuals are also considering this option, then the probability that the lobbyist succeeds will skyrocket if all of you contribute. Using simple game theory, it is easy to see that the wealthy are better off by each of them contributing a fraction of the potential tax increase to influence Congress and prevent reform.

If that means healthcare reform fails, and millions of citizens are still left uninsured, and millions more can’t afford the insurance they have, well then so be it. You’re wealthy. You have great health insurance.

But imagine how the families who are struggling feel.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

'Bucks for Bungalows' Still Going Strong

The successful 'Cash for Clunkers' may have ended today, but there is another similar government program that is doing quite well, and still going strong. It is the tax credit of up to $8,000 for 1st-time homebuyers.

This program was instituted to give "1st-time homebuyers", which includes anyone that hasn't owned a home in the past three years, an additional incentive to buy in this down economy. It is a tax credit (not a deduction, so you get the entire amount back when you do your taxes) for 10% of the home's purchase price, up to $8,000. It applies to any home bought after January 1st, 2009, and any home purchase that closes before December 1st, 2009.

During the first several months of the program, there wasn't an immediate response. But since the beginning of summer, the program has become very popular, and is helping the market turn around.

I've done some research, looking at all homes that have sold in Livingston County for under $150,000 (since that is the price ceiling for most 1st-time buyers). The initial three months of the year had stats very similar to the last three months of 2008. But the past three months have shown significant results.

I'm not going to go into most of the numbers, since the real estate market is cyclical, and summer is usually more active than winter. But there is an important aspect to the market that has changed and can not be explained by the cycle. This is the make-up of the sales: the percentage of total sales that are foreclosures, private-owned, or short sales.

(Short sales are when a private owner sells a home for less than they owe, and the bank forgives the remainder of the mortgage)

When the program began, bank-owned homes dominated the market. There weren't many sales, but the homes that were selling were foreclosures. In fact, during the first three months of the year, only 7.5% of homes that sold were private-owned, non-short sale. That is about 1 in 13.

But the market is turning. Over the past three months, not only have there been significantly more sales, but 19.3% of the sales were private-owned. That is 1 in 5.

What does that mean? Well, for the buyers, it means they are buying homes in better condition, as foreclosures tend to need much more work. For sellers, it means they are more likely able to sell without hurting their credit. But for everyone, it indicates the bottom of the market.

Two other indicators of this are: the average price per square foot (which has begun to slowly rise); and the selling price as a percentage of asking price (which also is rising, so homes are selling closer to their list price).

This blog post is not adequate to fully describe how the market has changed this summer, but I suggest you ask any real estate agent you know, and they will tell you about the increased competition for these homes. I've written several offers that were higher than asking price, only to have another buyer offer more.

This doesn't mean every market has turned, as the homes $200,000+ haven't begun to see these same effects. But the turn has to start at the bottom and work it's way up, which is where we are now. And we have the government to thank for this.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Huge Health Insurance Hikes Sign Reform Is Needed

What kind of world do we live in where a 22 percent increase in health care premiums is thought to be a good thing?

One where companies have the audacity to ask for a 56 percent increase and then "settle" for 22 percent.

The recent Blue Cross-Blue Shield rate hike is a sign of everything that is wrong with our health insurance system. This supposedly non-profit company is sitting on billions of dollars in reserves which it collected from subscribers for the purpose of paying their medical bills. Yet it wants an obscenely huge increase in premiums from them.

The Livingston Press and Argus calls this rate hike a "huge win" and boasts that it will "save" Blue Cross subscribers $160 million, without ever mentioning how much the increase is going to cost them.

If scaling back a 56 percent increase to a 22 percent increase "saves" people $160 million, doesn't that mean the 22 percent increase is still going to cost people upwards of $100 million? And shouldn't that be mentioned?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bloom is Off Rose of Rogers' Freshman Caucus

Back in March, veteran political commentator Tim Skubick was all gaga over the freshman caucus in the Michigan House being co-chaired by Livingston's Republican Rep. Bill Rogers. Skubick even had Rogers on his weekly television show, during which Rogers managed to say absolutely nothing about what the caucus might do.

Skubick revisited the freshman caucus in a recent column and he is no longer impressed.

So far, he said, they've done nothing more than go bowling together.

Great leadership there, Bill.

Check out more thoughts on this here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Health Care Opponents Out-Organized

Not all the town halls on health care are being dominated by those who want to keep our system of runaway health care costs and insurance companies that can refuse to pay your claims.

The Jackson Citizen-Patriot has a report on a town hall Thursday (August 12, 2009) held by Democratic Rep. Mark Schauer. And the Battle Creek Enquirer covered it as well.

Of course there were comparisons of Obama to Hitler.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bill Rogers Shuts Public Out of His Meeting

Republican Bill Rogers is having a legislative meeting in Livingston County on job creation, but he probably doesn't want you to come.

Rogers sent out an email this week about the House Republican Jobs Taskforce meeting on Friday, August 21, at 9 a.m. at the Livingston Educational Service Agency (LESA)
Main Conference Room, at 1425 W. Grand River Ave. in Howell.

But the email stresses that the task force only wants to hear from local business owners. The invitation reads, "If you own a business and would like to join the House Republican Taskforce next Friday to share your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions on how to create more jobs here in Michigan," then you may contact Rogers.

Thinking about starting a business? Stay home. You don't count. Rogers and his Republican buddies don't want to hear from you, even though you might have some legitimate suggestions about how to make starting a business easier in Michigan.

What are the Republicans afraid of?

Join Us at Howell Melon Festival!

Coloring, capitols, and health care. Those are just some of the things that will be going on at the Livingston County Democrats' booth at the Howell Melon Festival Saturday and Sunday (August 14-15.)

Stop by our booth to take part in one of our contests -- a coloring contest for children ages 6 and under, a name the presidents contest for ages 7-11, a name the state capitols contest for ages 12 and up, and a health care quiz for adults.

We'll also have buttons, tee-shirts, and literature on issues such as health care available.

Our booth is located at the corner of Clinton and Walnut streets in downtown Howell.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Game-Changer for the Auto Industry

General Motors has been working on its Chevy Volt for a long time, but I remained skeptical that a company that sold Hummers was all that committed to energy efficiency.

But the news on Tuesday (August 11, 2009) that the Volt can go 230 miles on a gallon of gas was eye-popping. Kind of makes the Toyota Prius look like a gas hog.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rep. Stupak (D) Ignoring the Church/State Separation

No reason we can't point out when someone in our own party is wrong.

U.S. Rep Bart Stupak of Michigan's 1st District (the U.P. and northern section of the L.P.) has introduced a bill that will give government land free-of-charge to a private, religious school. The Michigan Messenger- an independent source for Michigan news -has the story here:

With the democrats in power, it is even more important that we keep our own elected officials in check. Like the article says, the bill will probably never be voted on, but instead it could get attached as an amendment to another bill without controversy.

Life After Newspapers for Former P&A Editor

In case you have wondered what has happened to all the laid-off journalists in our area, here's an update on one.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Letter Sent 8-8-09 to Rep Mike Rogers on Health Care

Dear Rep. Rogers,
I have linked you to a very good article that answers the arguments that you have put forward to stop the Obama Health Care Plan with the Public Option. Your false representation that the government would come between a patient and his/her doctor, I already know isn't true. My husband who is on Medicare gets to choose his own doctor. Why are we in the US spending more on health care in this country and our outcomes for health for our population are not better than those in other industrialized countries who spend significantly less?
Please read the attached article and respond to my concerns that you do not have your Michigan constituents health as a priority, rather it seems that you are more interested in "business as usual."
I read this on Truthdig and thought you would find it interesting.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=The Me-First, Screw-Everyone-Else Crowd
Thanks to the Khaki Pants Offensive in the Great American Health Care and Tax War, finally, there’s no pretense. Finally, the Me-First, Screw-Everyone-Else Crowd’s ugliest traits are there for all to behold.
Copyright © 2009 Truthdig, L.L.C. All rights reserved.=-=-=-=-=-=-=This is a one-time mailing from Truthdig, ( on behalf of the sender.Please report any misuse to

Come Hear Jobs with Justice Speaker Thursday

People who work for a living deserve fairness. Democrats firmly believe that. And on Thursday (August 13, 2009) Livingston County Democrats will host a special talk on justice for workers.

William Bryce, an Organizer for Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice, will speak at 7p.m. at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton, about the coalition's efforts to defend workers' rights at work and to fight for health care reform, corporate accountability, and other social justice issues. You can read more about Jobs with Justice here.

This event is sponsored by the Livingston County Democrats' union relations committee chaired by Greg Stoey and is open to all. There is no charge, but please bring an item for the Gleaners Community Food Bank if you are able.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Biden Boosts Batteries and Michigan, but Tea-Baggers Absent

Vice President Biden gave a boost to Michigan Wednesday (August 5, 2009) when he announced grants to Michigan auto-makers and other companies to help them reserach and build the batteries that will power America's cars of the future.

A crowd of about 45 people turned out to welcome the vice president as he arrived at NextEnergy in Detroit, showing their support for the administration's policies on health care and clean energy. But an expected crowd of "tea-baggers" failed to materialize.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Buying Local AND Going Green

Democrats in the Michigan House are helping the state Legislature take a step to keep the state green and to keep more of our green in the state.

They have pushed both the House and the Senate to buy recycled paper from a Michigan company and to switch to vegetable dyes for printing.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Diner Observations

This week I happened to have a late breakfast at a local diner. It was well-past the morning rush so it wasn't crowded. But the distribution of the crowd was still interesting.

Half the restaurant is reserved for smokers, half for non-smokers. On the smokers' side, one booth was occupied but nobody was smoking. On the non-smokers' side, six boothes were occupied.

On Sunday, the restaurant is all non-smoking.

Maybe this place is unique in Michigan, but I doubt it. Instead, I suspect it's a good illustration of why a smoking ban would help restaurants, not hurt them.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

So Livingston County law enforcement is disappointed that no agency in the county received any federal stimulus money aimed at keeping police offiers from being laid off.

Under the stimulus rules, the money went first to those areas with the highest crime rates and biggest budget problems. Thankfully, that's not Livingston County.

But the complaints about not getting any stimulus funds are interesting, given that the Republican Party that runs this county opposed the stimulus. Now they want some of the money to bail them out of their budget problems.

Maybe they could complain to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton. I'm sure the Obama administration would listen seriously to him, given all the support he has given Obama priorities such as the stimulus.

Had he been a supporter, he might have argued to have the rules written in a way that would address needs in counties like Livingston. But he fought it and now Livingston County is paying the price.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Freeman: Dillon's Health Care Numbers Don't Add Up

John Freeman, state director of Health Care for American Now and a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, takes issue with some of the math behind House Speaker Andy Dillon's plan to put all public employees in the state under one health insurance plan.

The Lansing State Journal has Freeman's op-ed here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Good Luck, Kris

Livingston Press and Argus reporter Kris Karol has moved on.

Sources say Kris is going to graduate school.

His last day was last week and he left before I had a chance to say goodbye. But if this reaches him in cyber-space, I want to let him know we appreciated his balanced coverage, hard work, and sound story ideas.

Kris, you'll be missed!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Student Loan Reform on the Horizon

Students facing the high cost of higher education will soon get a break, as Congress continues to move forward with reforming the college loan process.

Right now, the federal government is paying huge subsidies to banks who make college loans to students, loans that are guaranteed by the federal government. The
Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.(HR3221) will wipe out those subsidies to private lenders and expand the direct loan program, under which the federal government itself loans the money through colleges and universities. The move will save taxpayers $90 billion over the next decade.

Rather than going into the pockets of bankers, $10 billion of that savings will go to reducing the federal deficit.

The rest will be used to expand college aid and education programs, including $40 billion for Pell Grants, reducing interest rates on need-based student loans, simplifying the loan application form for families, investing $1.2 billion in historically black colleges, funds for updating community college buildings, grants to encourage cooperation between community colleges and businesses, grants for developing on-line courses, grants to reform standards for early learning programs, and grants to loal school districts for modernizastion and repair.

Republicans oppose the measure, as The New York Times editorial notes.

We'll see if Rep. Mike Rogers, whose Eighth District includes Michigan State University, will vote with his GOP leadership or with the students who live in his district.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Convincing the Dems to support National Health Care

This is another approach for Obama to take to get the Dems to support National Health Care!

Check out Why Cant Obama Convince the Dems? at

How to get National Health Care by Harry Cook

I think Harry T Cook has a good idea-can we get it to the Obama people?

How To Get National Health Care? With the Help of the Senate Judiciary Committee

By Harry T. Cook7/24/09

Somebody needs to tell Rahm Emmanuel and other Obama insiders that the key to adoption of any government-run national health care program is to arrange for people who are regularly victimized by the current system to tell their stories to the same body of senators whose boorish pomposity was on display during Sonia Sotomayor's recent nomination hearing. Bring before the august solons a woman whom I recently met -- not a Latina but an African-American -- whose husband's petition for Social Security disability had been denied, though a back injury has rendered him unable even to do desk work. Her minimum-wage job has no health insurance benefit, but because of her job she has been declared ineligible for Medicaid. She cannot even dream of affording the hundreds-of-dollars-a-month tab for her husband's pain medications. The emergency room staff of the nearest hospital has told her not to bring him there anymore. Let the senators, whose own health care insurance benefits are sleek, secure and government-funded (!), give her their set speeches about bootstraps, deficits, smaller government and the religion of the free-market system as she tries to keep tab on her restive children whom she had to bring with her to the hearing because she can't afford child care. Let the Foghorn Leghorns go on with their patronizing lectures until the woman has the "meltdown" Sotomayor managed to avoid, no doubt to Lindsey Graham's disappointment. Let her have the meltdown on national television while the cameras pan the senators in their immaculately tailored suits and rep ties, seeing but not comprehending those things they have left undone and those they ought not to have done -- leaving it to the venerable Book of Common Prayer to observe that "there is no health in us."* Count on the sensation mongering of television news editors to run and rerun the meltdown until the woman and her children become as famous as Kate and her eight. Fair-and-balanced Fox News would probably not show the senators shuffling their papers while clearly hoping security will goddamn show up ASAP and give the woman and her brood the boot, but other cameras would surely capture the lawmakers' uncaring haplessness. That might be the Harry-and-Louise moment in the 2009 version of the Great Health Care debate. You will remember perhaps the health care lobby's ad hominem commercial that undid the 1993-94 efforts of the Clinton administration to reform health care. But not even all the facts and figures in the world told and retold by endless PowerPoint presentations in support of the kind of reform of the health care system President Obama advocates will do the job. The original Harry and Louise were all gut-level. So would the hearing room scene be -- and it would stand a good chance of shifting the balance as the letters and e-mails and faxes poured into congressional offices asking, in effect, "Isn't anybody going to help this poor woman?" Of course, there are abroad in the land millions of such poor women and their families who have no health care insurance and therefore little to no health care, except what is grudgingly administered by overtaxed emergency rooms. Some American hospitals now station personnel at their emergency room entrances to discourage people who can produce no evidence of insurance or valid Medicaid plastic from demanding treatment. What is true is that health care delivery, as it is so bureaucratically called, is a huge for-profit enterprise based on the overprescription of costly medicines and drugs, sophisticated surgeries and no end of ever more costly tests all rationed out among those able to pay or whose insurance policies bear the cost. The back of that system must be broken in the same way and for the same reasons that the Wall Street banking cabal must be forcefully introduced to the economic realities of a democracy, e.g. the concentration of great wealth and other resources among a relatively few at the expense of the many is unacceptable and will not long be tolerated. What about those who cannot get into health insurance programs or who, when they can, are checkmated at every juncture by the fine print of their contracts and the army of experts in every insurer's headquarters trained in the dark art of jot and tittle to deny claims and permission for treatment? The answer is: A government-of-the-people-by-the-people-and-for-the-people insurance program of the kind that will gather up the aforementioned woman, her husband and their children in an embrace of basic justice. It will be a system designed to bring under control the sky's-the-limit costs for everything from a dose of Tylenol to open-heart surgery. Who will pay if she can't pay? The government? Well, yes, that which is of, by and for the people. And that gets done by requiring those who have so much to part with a little of what they have to help those whose "too little" is all they have. This process is known as "taxation" -- taxes, like club dues, being the price for the privilege of membership. The Republicans ride in alarm, Paul Revere-like, "through every Middlesex village and farm for the country-folk to be up and to arm,"** calling this idea socialism. Communism, even. It is neither; it's just basic decency. As we might say to the white guys in suits, after the manner of Joseph Welch addressing another senator many years ago: "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"***_____________________________________________________* From the General Confession of the Book of Common Prayer 1928, p. 6: "We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us." ** "Tales of a Wayside Inn, The Landlord's Tale: Paul Revere's Ride," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Poems of Longfellow, The Modern Library of Random House, New York, 1949, pp. 275-276. *** "The Army-McCarthy Hearings, 1954," in Robert D. Marcus and Anthony Marcus, eds., On Trial: American History Through Court Proceedings and Hearings, Vol. II, (St. James, New York: Brandywine Press, 1998), 136-51.
© Copyright 2009, Harry T. Cook. All rights reserved. This article may not be used or reproduced without proper credit.
READERS WRITE [re essay of 7/17/09 Supremely Unfeeling] Ralph R. Carskadden, Seattle, WA: Your mention of the Latina Supreme Court nominee prompts me to . . . comment on what we saw and heard this past week from Washington, D.C., during her confirmation hearings. She was grilled by privileged white males over the possibility that her race, gender and life experience might have something to do with her judgment. As if their race, gender and life of privilege haven't impacted their judgment? In effect they were asking her to be as unconscious and self-deluded as they are in order to serve. Harvey H. Guthrie, Jr., Fillmore, CA: An exceptionally powerful essay! Lecture ScheduleThe Thursday ForumBirmingham Unitarian Church38651 Woodward Ave. (at Lone Pine)Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304Admission: $10/students free Summer University: 10 a.m. ThursdaysJuly 30: News Round-up: What's Happening?Speaker: Harry Cook
WHAT DO YOU THINK? I'd like to hear from you. E-mail your comments to me: NOW AVAILABLETo read previously published essays and sermons, click on the link below.

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GOP Disease -- Infighting -- Spreads to County Commission

Looking at the way Livingston County elected officials are getting along, you'd never know they were all members of one party. Every week there's a new board that, instead of doing the public's business, is engaged in out-and-out fighting with each other.

Everybody knows about Hamburg Township. How can I even summarize that dysfunctional morass of incompetence, jealousy, pettiness, and bizarre behavior?

But then the Howell School Board got into the act, with the firing of the superintendent, the beginning of a recall, allegations of "spying" against people monitoring the recall, and who knows what next.

In between was the fight on the Brighton Fire Authority, culminating in the departure of the fire chief.

And now, we have the Livingston County Commission and Sheriff Bob Bezotte clashing to the point that the sheriff stomped out of a meeting over county demands for massive cuts to public safety, followed by Commissioner Jack LaBelle claiming he was "threatened."

Remember, those are only the disagreements we know about so far this year.

It's pretty clear that Republicans in this county are having major difficulties getting along with each other, and the public's business is hurting as a result.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Benson Campaign Gaining More Steam

Jocelyn Benson's campaign for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State in 2010 seems to gain momentum every week.

Last week, friends had a fund-raiser for her in Washington, D.C. This week, she's picked up the endorsement of Woman Under Forty Political Action Committee, a non-partisan group that supports younger women who are barely represented in elected office.

Jessica Grounds, WUFPAC president, called Benson's candidacy "thrilling."

"She is a great role model for women in Michigan and across the country. Her extensive experience pertaining to election law and fair election practices makes her the best candidate for Michigan Secretary of State. We are proud to support Benson in her race for Secretary of State and believe that her talents and experience will ensure her victory in 2010."

Benson is a well-versed in election law, which she teaches at Wayne State University. She's a terrific speaker and a hard worker, too, as she travels from one end of this state to the other talking about election issues.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 Preview Not Encouraging

The Ann Arbor News was a great newspaper. Will be a great on-line news source?

We don't know yet because it's late getting up and running (not a good sign but understandable). I have to say, though, that the preview being offered is not encouraging. The lay-out pictured reminds me of a free, pre-packaged blog spot, which is fine for individuals but is supposed to be a professional outfit.

And then there is the "coverage" of the Ann Arbor city council meeting by someone who has been in town less than a week. Great.

Too bad all the laid-off reporters can't put together their own competing operation on-line.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

So Long to Livingston Community News

I'm going to miss the Livingston Community News, the free weekly newspaper published for Livingston County for six years by the Ann Arbor News.

I found the articles well-reported and written in a lively style. Not being tied to the old power structure of the county gave it independence.

The newspaper's last edition received this weekend includes a sign-off from the staff, many of whom are Livingston County residents now apparently out of work. It includes, "It's been a great ride. Thank you, Livingston County."

But the readers owe them a big thanks, too.

Denby Emerges from Obscurity

So Cindy Denby really does exist.

I was beginning to wonder if Livingston County still had two representatives in the Michigan House or if Denby had been kidnapped by aliens. But she surfaced Sunday (July 19, 2009) with an op-ed in the Livingston Press and Argus.

I thought Denby was a nice person during the 2008 campaign, but I can't say she has been at all impressive as a legislator.

Especially when her op-ed touting a meeting on agriculture fails to mention what day it will occur.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2010 Gubernatorial Hopeful Coming to Livingston County

Want to get a look at one of the candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010?

Come to the Livingston County Democrats' potluck on Sunday, July 26, featuring Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith of Washtenaw County.

Smith gets some press on the recent announcement of her candidacy. But the potluck is a chance to meet and talk to her directly.

The event will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600 of the Fonda Office Park, Brighton. Bring a dish to share.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The speakers at our town hall were Kali Fox from Senator Stabenow’s Lansing office, James Mitchiner, M.D. Emergency Medicine, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, and Robert Sisler, President of UAW Local 6000 Retired Workers.

A brief recap of some of the speakers’ comments:

Kali Fox stated that Senator Stabenow believes that a single-payer system would be the best health care plan but that it does not have the votes to pass. The Senator is working for the strongest possible public option and is using her position on the Finance Committee to achieve the public option.

Dr. Mitchiner spoke about the myths surrounding the single-payer plan. The first and most often heard myth is that a single-payer plan is socialized medicine. The doctor pointed out that a single-payer plan is simply the method of payment. The delivery of health care will come from the same doctors and hospitals that deliver our health care today. The government takes care of payment and private providers deliver care under the single-payer plan.

Dr. Mitchiner also addressed the comparisons with the Canadian system, stating that the Canadian system spends 54% per patient of the U.S. costs. While there are wait times in Canada, there are also wait times in the U.S. and, in fact, many Americans do not receive health care at all.

Bob Sisler
provided us with copies of the actual HR 767 bill and pointed out that the UAW and a number of other unions support the single-payer plan. He also pointed out that the idea of profit in health insurance was really introduced in the 1970s with HMOs. We are the only western democracy that has private for-profit health insurance for our basic health care. Other countries have a single-payer type plan for basic health care.

Additional note:
The House produced a plan yesterday that would: ‘expand coverage, slow the growth of Medicare, raise taxes on high-income people and penalize employers who do not provide health benefits to their workers.’

Donna’s comments and questions on the House plan and other legislation: This plan still leaves 15 million people without insurance. If we believe that health care is a human right, how do we excuse leaving out 15 million people? Why are we penalizing employers? Shouldn’t employers be left out of this game? Don’t we want employers to create jobs, hire workers, and keep down the cost of their products for international trade. Why should employers be responsible for the costs of health insurance?

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) also voted a bill out of their committee. This bill brings up many of the same questions as House bill. Like the House bill, it provides subsidies to uninsured individuals to purchase health insurance either on the public option or the private market. (Can you see the private insurance CEOs salivating now at the prospect of these new consumers?)

These bills are complex and offer their insurance products through an exchange. Does anyone remember the fiasco created by Medicare Part D when hundreds of insurance companies offered prescription plans? Seniors were confused and puzzled about what to do. To make matters worse, the legislation stated that if seniors didn’t make their choices by the deadline, seniors would be charged a penalty for every month delayed. The Part D bill so heavily favored the insurance and drug companies that, while seniors could only change their insurance each January, the companies could change their coverage whenever they wanted.

Another bill will soon be voted out of the Finance Committee. It’s predicted that it will offer co-ops instead of the public plan. Most of us can see the problem with co-ops trying to negotiate coverage with sophisticated, greedy insurance companies. Imagine the fun you’ll have when you present your co-op insurance card to your doctor or hospital. This brainchild is proposed by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, (population of less than a million citizens) and makes Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, (population less than 3 million) happy, along with Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska (population less than 2 million). They are willing to compromise on the health of our citizens.

Sen. Grassley was asked by one of his constituents why he couldn’t get a health plan as good as the Senator’s plan. Grassley’s response was that the fellow should get a job with the federal government. Perhaps it’s time that Sen. Grassley’s constituents decide that Grassley should no longer be working for the federal government.

Senator Debbie Stabenow is on the Finance Committee. If you agree that co-ops are a bad idea call and e-mail her today, contact information is below.

One last thought: We hear continually about how health care for all needs to control costs. We all agree on that. There should, however, be more talk about broad coverage for all Americans. The debate that’s going on right now is complex and obfuscates the real problem which is that many Americans are deprived of health care while we claim that health care is a human right.

Information Sources:

Many people asked for places where they could get information on health care reform. Here are some Web sites that have good information on health care reform and pending bills in the House and Senate. Be an activist! E-mail and call your Senators! Call the White House! March at rallies here and in Washington DC. Talk to your friends and relatives and give them the facts. President Barack Obama
(202) 456-1111 Comments
(202) 456-1414 Switchboard Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI
(517) 203-1760 Lansing Office
(202) 224-4822 Washington D.C. Sen. Carl Levin D-MI
(517) 377-1508 Lansing Office
(202) 224-6221 Washington D.C. Health Care Now organization is a single-payer advocate. Pushes a strong public option and the White House plan. Physicians for a National Health Program Dr. Mitchiner came to us through the PNHP. Website for the House bill HR 676, single-payer bill. Find out how hospitals compare on treating various diseases and surgical procedures. Look up any federal House or Senate bill in its entirety or in
summary form. THE JOURNAL: Profits Over People. Online video of Bill Moyers Journal which features Wendell Potter, a former health insurance executive. Well-worth the time to watch it. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, strong advocate in Senate for single-payer. Rep. John Conyers, D-MI, introduced HR 676 Rep. Mike Rogers, D-Brighton
(202) 225-4872 Washington D.C.
(517) 702-8000 Lansing Office

County Commission Penny-wise, Pound-foolish

Apparently, you can sell any wacky idea to Livingston County Commissioners if you tell them it will save money.

That's how a former county employee apparently put herself in position to steal thousands of dollars from the taxpayers, right under the noses of our county commissioners.

Julie Wyland Crouse was in charge of the county's medical benefits program, which meant she took in employees' benefits forms and claims and sent them to payroll for payment.

The county previously had paid an outside company to oversee the reimbursements, but, according to the Livingston Press and Argus story in editions for Thursday (July 16, 2009,) "Crouse convinced county officials that using Marwil was 'wasting money,' Gadsby said. As a result, county officials discontinued Farmington Hills-based Marwil's service effective July 1, 2005, leaving Crouse the sole person responsible for determining whether employees' were receiving the correct reimbursement, the detective said."

So, according to charges filed against her, Crouse proceeded to embezzle taxpayers' money. The Livingston County Prosecutor's Office has charged her with two counts of embezzling at least $1,000 but less than $20,000 from the county.

In other words, no one was watching what Crouse was doing. That's a violation of fundamental rules of accounting requiring checks and balances. County officials should have known better. But Crouse apparently spoke the magic words, "It'll save money," and commissioners stupidly fell for it.