Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Join Local Dems at Memories for State of the Union

President Obama will make his State of the Union speech Wednesday and you have a chance to watch it with fellow Obama supporters.

Local Dems will gather at Memories Lounge and Restaurant, 1840 S. Old U.S. 23, Brighton, at 7 p.m. You can order off the menu and watch the speech in a private room on big screen TV.

See you there!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wonder How Many GOP Candidates Will Rally With Tea Baggers Against Auto Jobs?

Tea baggers are planning to protest at the Detroit Auto Show to show their opposition to people in Michigan having jobs.

I wonder how many Republican gubernatorial and congressional candidates are planning to show up and support them. How closely do they want to be associated with a political movement that actually wants people to be thrown out of work?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Census Matters -- And It's Not a Government Plot

It wasn't too long ago that U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann was telling people not to cooperate with the 2010 census because it was a government plot.

Now it turns out the loony Minnesota Republican has figured out she might lose her seat in Congress if her constituents take her advice. That's because census results are used to allocate seats in Congress, which are based on population, and Minnesota is on the verge of losing one of its seats -- and it very well might be Bachmann's seat that disappears.

Beyond that, federal funds for many programs are allocated based on population so it's important for all states that their citizens fill out the census forms.

And no, it's not a socialist Obama plot to collect information and use it to control the public. The U.S. Constitution requires the census be done every 10 years, and while the initial purpose might have been to figure out how many military-age males the nation had, it quickly became useful for other purposes.

By the late 19th century, the government was asking where individuals were born, whether they spoke English, whether they were U.S. citizens, whether they could read or write, and so on. If an individual was a farmer, the government wanted to know if he or she owned it or rented it, how many acres were involved, what crops were raised and their value, how many and what kinds of livestock were maintained, and so on. It was a way for policy makers to get a snapshot of the nation.

The information remained confidential. Census results don't become public until 75 years later. Genealogists and historians now find them chock full of valuable information, even though the data may be inaccurate depending on which family members were available to answer the questions when the census-taker arrived.

I don't know how my ancestors felt about being asked questions about their livelihoods and backgrounds, but I know that I am grateful to them for answering the questions. I know a little bit more about who they were -- how prosperous they were or were not, compared to their neighbors, how hard they might have had to work on their farms, what they ate, and so on -- than I would otherwise. In many ways, the census answers makes them more three-dimensional for me, not just names on a birth certificate.

That's now why the census is taken, but it is a byproduct, and I'm glad it exists.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


A representative of the regional U.S. Census Bureau, Terry Campion, Partnership Specialist, will be in Brighton on Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 11 a.m. to speak about the 2010 census and recruit people to work on the census. The general public is invited to attend the meeting which will be at Livingston County Democratic Party headquarters, 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600, Brighton.

The 2010 census will determine how many representatives Michigan sends to Congress and how funding from the federal government will be allocated to states. It’s vital that every person in Michigan be counted so that the state gets its fair share in these tough economic times.

The 2010 census also offers people a chance for paid employment. Campion will discuss the process of applying for a job with the census.
Campion also will speak about the history of the census, why certain questions are asked on the census forms, steps census officials will take to assure that every person is counted, and ways that the general public can help.

There will be opportunities for questions. Coffee and tea will be served. The office is located in the Fonda Office Center on the north side of Grand River, approximately one-third mile east of U.S. 23. If you have questions, call Donna Anderson at 248-719-0112 or 810-229-4212.

John Cherry's Statement on Leaving the 2010 Race for Democratic Nomination for Governor

John Cherry has made it official, telling supporters that he will not be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2010. Here is his statement:

"Today I am announcing that the exploration of a gubernatorial candidacy is coming to an end, and I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2010.

"A year ago, when this exploratory process began, I set several goals that I thought I needed to attain if a candidacy was to be successful. I believed that at least a thousand Michigan citizens needed to express their support for my candidacy. That number was exceeded significantly. I also believed that in 2009 I would have to obtain at least half of the petition signatures necessary to obtain a position on the ballot. We succeeded in reaching that number as well.

"However, I also believed that I had to secure enough money to make my candidacy fully viable. I was not successful in that endeavor to the degree that was needed. With that in mind, I have come to the conclusion that to wage a successful campaign will be difficult at best.

"Of course, I find this a disappointing circumstance for two reasons. First, a number of good friends stepped forward to offer their support, and they worked very hard to build a very impressive grassroots network. I hate to disappoint them with this news. Many of them also contributed hard earned money to help support our efforts. That does not, however, diminish the effort that they and the campaign team made to build a successful candidacy.

"I am also disappointed because I truly believe that 2010 will be a critical year and election for Michigan. We stand before a simple choice between a race to the bottom or a vision of Michigan as we would like it to be. There are many who for political reasons choose to demean the notion of Michigan as a state that is investing and building for the future. They would rather have us blame our present economic circumstances on the victims of the global forces that disrupted the family and economic lives of thousands of Michigan citizens.

"I had hoped that my campaign could argue for a Michigan that could put its great assets to work to create a new, vibrant 21st Century economy-- our great workforce and citizenry, internationally renowned institutions of higher education, and the 20 percent of the world's supply of fresh water that surrounds us. Those are strong building blocks for the future. The only thing that stands in the way of creating a strong future out of them is the negative political cult of personality that seeks political advantage at the expense of our civil endeavors.

"I am disappointed that I will not be the candidate to carry that message.

"Most importantly, though, I wish to thank my family-- my wife Pam, my children, my mother, and my brother and sisters for their help, support, and love. While ending the campaign is a disappointment for us, the effort brought us new friendships, introduced us to amazing people, and opened our eyes to a Michigan that is truly inspiring. For that we are extremely grateful."

Cherry's Decision Changes Race Instantly

There's an old saying that 24 hours is an eternity in politics -- and Gov. John Cherry's decision to bow out of the 2010 race for the Democratic nomination proves the validity of that once again.

Cherry's departure is good news for the other two already announced candidates -- Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith and former state Rep. John Freeman. at least temporarily. Democrats likely will take a closer look at them now.

But the race won't stay that way for long. New candidates will emerge, generating new excitement. If House Speaker Andy Dillon gets in the race, others will follow, as more progressive party members will demand an alternative. Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero will likely hop in, as will someone else whose name we aren't even thinking of right now.

Cherry's departure, however, means that the candidate most experienced in working with Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature -- and most concerned about working people -- won't be at the helm. And that's sad.

But his departure also says a lot about the kind of guy Cherry is. It took guts to make this assessment. More than one politician would have stubbornly stayed in the race, making it about him or her and not about what's best for the party and the state.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Skubick: Cuts Only Matter if People Die

One of the hazards of staying in journalism too long is that people get so cynical that they lose touch with people.

A case in point is Tim Skubick, whose "Off the Record" show airs on WKAR in Lansing and other public television stations. Skubick also writes a blog, carried in the Oakland Press. And in the December 30, 2009, entry, he had this to say about cuts in the 2009 state budget:

"While there has been pain from these cuts, no one has died from them."

In the first place, how does Skubick know that? When people die, especially poor ones, no neon sign lights up that says they died due to inadequate medical care due to cuts in the Medicaid budget, poor nutrition, and so on. They just die and no one notices.

And in the second place, isn't that setting a pretty low bar for how we judge ourselves as a state? As long as bodies aren't piling up in the street and people aren't dropping dead of malnutriton, Skubick thinks we should be satisfed. It's true that probably no one will die if schools have to cut busing for students, but if students drop out because it's just too much trouble to get to school, won't that impact their ability to earn a living, provide for themselves, and be productive citizens -- and doesn't that affect our future as a state?

Maybe it's time for Skubick to take a break from the horse-race side of politics and go cover some human services issues for awhile.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolve to Read Livingstontalk in the New Year

It's time for New Year's resolutions. Here's one that doesn't involve losing weight or not smoking, although both of those are good ideas.

Resolve to read the Livingstontalk.com every day.

Livingstontalk.com is the on-line news source started in late 2009 by Maria Stuart and Buddy Moorehouse, two staffers laid off by the Livingston Press and Argus last year. The newspaper is much poorer as a result, but fortunately, the two teamed up to create Livingstontalk.com.

Livingstontalk.com is a lively mix of local news and opinion -- with a far wider range of voices than is available elsewhere in Livingston County. People like Wayne Johnson and Kelly Raskauskas, for example.

Livingstontalk's webpage proclaims that "the future of community journalism is here." In a recent column, Maria Stuart details the progress in the site's first three months and lays out plans for the future.

It is a site worth watching -- both because it tells you what's going on Livingston County, and because it just might be the future of community journalism.