Thursday, July 21, 2011

And Don't Forget Their Pensions Are Taxed Now

Senior citizens in Michigan are struggling with poverty, with one-third of them "economically insecure."

That's according to a report from Wayne State University's Institute of Gerontology published Thursday (July 21, 2011) in the Detroit Free Press.

The study found that the median income for those hosueholds with someone 65 and older is $32,392. Matching that with an index that measures the costs of items essential to the elderly, such as health care premiums and prescription drug copayments, the report found many seniors struggling.

Unmentioned, of course, is that on top of all their other bills, many of those seniors now will pay higher taxes, thanks to Rick Snyder's taxes on pensions that paid for tax cuts for businesses. During the debate on that pension tax this spring, the focus was on senior citizens living the good life with fat, untaxed pensions.

Where was this report when we needed it?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Peace Rally Coming to Livingston County Next Month

Peace. We're all for it. Let's do somethinga about it.

We can -- on Aug. 2 at a Peace Rally being planned at the Brighton Mill Pond.

The event is sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Brighton, Pax Christi, and Moveable Peace, a group walking 10 miles a day to Lansing in the cause of creating a state Peace and Justice Commission.

Neil Woodward, Michigan's Troubador, will sing at the rally, scheduled for roughly noon to 3 p.m. An exact schedule will be available later.

For more informatiion, contact Julie Bohnhorst, 586-924-3303.

See you there!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Livingston Dems: County Should Look Into Foreclosure Lawsuits

A pair of Livingston County's neighbors are suing two mortgage giants for not paying millions of dollars in taxes for homes they foreclosed on. Shouldn't Livingston County join in?

Livingston County Democrats think so and on Wednesday, county chair Jordan Genso urged the county commission to look into joining the lawsuits brought by Oakland County and Ingham County against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

With money tight, governments ought to be looking at any potential source of revenue. And that's what officials in Ingham and Oakland have done.

In June Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner sued mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in federal court, alleging that the lenders failed to pay real estate transfer taxes to the county when they recorded documents with the county Register of Deeds.

The county portion of property transfer taxes is $1.10 per $1,000 of a property’s value. The state portion of the transfer tax is $7.50 per $1,000. Oakland County officials have estimated the two lenders owe the state and county $12 million for unpaid transfer taxes.

Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Jr. filed a similar lawsuit naming not only Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but also Bank of America, BAC Home Loans Servicing, Wells Fargo Bank, Countrywide Home Loans Servicing, and two Michigan law firms, Trott & Trott and Orlans Associates.

That suit, filed in Ingham County Circuit Court, names the entities besides Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because Hertel believes that the companies might have assigned mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac right before a foreclosure in order to avoid paying the transfer taxes.

Hertel also said millions of dollars could be owed to the county and the state.
Genso asked the county commission to look into how much Livingston County might have lost in transfer taxes unpaid by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and report that figure to the public, along with its decision on whether or not to join the lawsuits, by August 31.

Money recovered from the lawsuit could be used to start foreclosure prevention and assistance programs in Livingston County, Genso said.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hune Sacrificing Children to Tax Ideology, Cigarette Companies

Republican Joe Hune has given himself a pretty narrow job description, and his proposal to encourage smoking and then cut health care is the latest example of it.

As he said in the Livingston Press and Argus, "'I wasn't elected to protect what's in government coffers. I was elected to protect what's in the pocketbook of my constituents and the people I serve.'"

What about protecting children from harm? Isn't that part of the job description of a state senator in Michigan? Not for Hune.

Hune wants to cut the state's $2 a pack cigarette tax in half, which will drastically increase smoking, especially among young people. The tobacco industry's own documents show that cigarette use among young people is highly sensitive to price.

Researchers who examined those internal documents concluded: "These documents clearly support the findings from academic and other research that demonstrate that price is a key determinant of overall cigarette smoking, that price increases lead to significant reductions in overall smoking, increases in smoking cessation, and reductions in smoking prevalence, with relatively large effects on young people." In other words, the lower the price, the more young people smoke or start smoking. The higher the price, the fewer who start.

So Hune's proposal to cut taxes and lower prices will lead to more smoking, especially among young people who might otherwise never start because of the cost.

And once they are smokers and begin to experience the health problems associated with smoking? Hune will make it harder for them to get health care by cutting eligibility for Medicaid.

Hune's response is that if smoking is so bad, it should be banned -- a totally unworkable proposal and he knows it. If Hune is worried about cigarette smuggling now, how much worse would it get with a ban on cigarettes?

Hune says he is protecting the pocketbooks of "my constituents and the people I serve." Joe Camel may not be a constituent, but that's who Hune is serving.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Little More Juice for the Recall Rick Campaign

The popular liberal blog Daily Kos appears to be throwing its considerable weight behind the Recall Rick campaign, according to an email to supporters on Friday (July 8, 2011).

The email, from Chris Bowers, campaign director at Daily Kos, says Daily Kos is paying for a field organizing firm to work with the 4,000 grassroots volunteers and 80 county captains leading the Recall Rick effort.

"Field Works will be with us for the rest of the campaign, and Daily Kos is picking up the tab," Bowers' email said. By late afternoon, nothing had been posted on the Daily Kos site regarding that development, however.

The Michigan Education Association has recently joined the recall effort and has set up an action page for its members to get involved.

The recall effort is holding a statewide recall petition signing event Saturday, according to the email.

You can follow recall events on Facebook or at

Denby Taking Post's Criticism to Heart?

In her second term in the Michigan House, Republican Rep. Cindy Denby seems to be following the advice of her opponent, Democratic challenger Garry Post.

In his 2010 campaign, Post pointed out that Denby had sponsored only seven bills during two years in office, despite having campaigned on the claim that she was knowledgeable about the ways of Lansing because she had served as chief of staff for then-Rep. Joe Hune. Denby's seven-bill output placed her third from the bottom among House members.

This term, Denby already had churned out 13 bills -- nearly double the number of ideas she came up with during the previous two years. Some are retreads, re-introductions of bills she submitted the previous terms. Those include four bills designed to clean up the toxic Special Assessment District crisis she helped create in Livingston County while supervisor for Handy Township.

During the campaign, Denby maintained that she concentrated on constituent service so bill introductions did not reflect her full effort on the job. Constituent service is important, but leaders need to come up with ideas, too, not just unsnarl bureaucratic issues.

Maybe Denby decided Post's criticism has some merit. Maybe not. But for some reason, she decidied to step it up a notch.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Join Livingston Dems for Movie Night on Friday!

So you think you understand the 2008 financial crisis that brought the nation's economy to its knees. Or maybe you're a little fuzzy on the details.

Either way, here's a chance to get the inside scoop on the disaster. Livingston County Democrats are hosting a movie night featuring an award-winning film on the financial crisis on Friday (July 8, 2011). The film is worth a second viewing even if you were able to see it in the theater.

An ice cream social will follow, featuring ice cream with all your favorite toppings.

The event begins at 7 p.m. at party headquarters, 10321 Grand River Road, Suite 600, Brighton. Suggested donation is $10 per person or $15 for a couple.

Call (810) 229-4212 or email for more information.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Would Tri-Corner Hats Help?

The effort to recall Rick Snyder doesn't get much respect from the news media.The Detroit Free Press finally did a story on the grassroots effort, which mainly was dismissive of the campaign.

With the campaign half over, the amount of ink Michigan media have devoted to the campaign is a fraction of that spilled over the tea bagger groups in the last two years.

I'm beginning to think that any grassroots group needs costumes -- knee breeches and tri-corner hats with tea bags stapled to the brim -- in order to get attention. And racist photos of the president probably would help, too.

But the Recall Rick campaign can't show photos of the harm Snyder already has done to our state -- the deep cuts to education at a time when the school aid fund has a half billion dollar surplus, higher taxes for senior citizens and the poor to pay for $1.7 billion in tax cuts to businesses without any promise of jobs, ending tax credit for the film industry that really were creating jobs that are now disappearing. They just don't make good visuals.

The Recall Rick volunteers are ignoring the skeptics and steadily gathering signatures.

If you haven't signed yet, you'll have a chance to sign Wednesday at the Fowlerville Farmers Market, which is open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Have You Signed Yet?

Thre's only a little more than a month to go in the drive to collect enough signatures to recall Riok Snyder. Have you signed yet?

The grassroots campaign has had volunteers at events throughout the county so far this summer and will have people at the Howell Farmers' Market Sunday (July 3, 2011).

The group is aiming to collect 800,000 signatures by Aug. 5. It can use more volunteers in the effort and will provide training. Visit the website, to sign up to volunteer or get more information about signing events. And the Livingston County group has its own Facebook page.

The polls have shown Michigan residents aren't happy about Snyder's cuts to schools and his raising taxes on senior citizens and poor people in order to cut taxes for businesses. This is the chance to do something besides be unhappy.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Time to Do Something for Environment

Can you spare an hour or two for the environment?

Livingston County Democrats will take part in the Michigan Department of Transportation's quarterly roadside cleanup on Sunday, July 10. Volunteers will pick up trash along a two-mile stretch of M-59.

Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of Ironwood Golf Club, 6900 East Highland Road, Howell. The party will provide safety vests, bags, and sticks for picking up litter. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring work gloves.

Afterwards, volunteers go to breakfast together so it's a great way to get to know other Democrats, too!