Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snyder's Abortion Signing Dispels Last of 'Moderate' Pretense

If there was any doubt after Rick Snyder's about face on anti-working family legislation, Snyder has totally thrown in his lot with the far-right fringe of Michigan Republicans.

The latest piece of evidence was Snyder's signing of a bill Friday that make it almost impossible to obtain an abortion in Michigan. The bill would impose operating room regulations on abortion clinics, require doctors to screen women for coercion, ban tele-conferencing between doctors and patients for prescribing medication abortions, and regulate the disposal of fetal remains.

Those regulations will make it much more difficult to obtain an abortion in Michigan because facilities will end of closing. But Snyder vetoed another bill that would have barred Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan from offering abortion coverage in its standard health insurance plans.

So with one stroke of a pen, Snyder makes it nearly impossible to obtain an abortion in Michigan. And with another stroke of his pen, Snyder says insurance companies have to cover the procedure. And this is supposed to make sense?

Snyder may have been trying to salvage some of his "moderate" credentials by claiming that the insurance coverage bill would have penalized women who were victims of rape or incest, but that doesn't undo the damage that his signing of the other bill does.

There's no fooling anyone anymore. Snyder has shed whatever moderate trappings he put on in order to win the votes of independents in 2010. He now is strictly a puppet of the far-right wing of the Michigan Republican Party.

And people need to be reminded of it day in and day out until 2014.

Friday, December 28, 2012

What Has Livingston Gotten for SPARK Investment?

The one-year anniversary of the deal between Ann Arbor SPARK and Livingston County is coming up. Isn't it time for the Livingston County Board of Commissioners to ask what the results have been so far?

The county last winter approved a three-year deal to pay Ann Arbor SPARK $333,880 annually to promote economic development in Livingston County. That' on top of thousandsmore chipped in by a dozen townships and cities. With almost a third of that spent, what have taxpayers gotten for their money?

It doesn't sound like too much, based on this story in the Livingston Press and Argus, especially this quote:

"We're just really looking forward to ramping up our retention and economic work within the county," said Mike Kennedy, chairman of the EDC board. "We're extremely excited."

Almost a third of the contract is up and the staff is still "looking forward to ramping up" work? I would think the "ramping up" would have been done in the first few months and that by now things would be in "full swing" mode."

This is disappointing and not a sign that taxpayer dollars have been well-spent so far.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

 Governor Snyder vs American National Security

I believe letting technology meant for warfare get into the wrong hands, whether totalitarian regimes or disturbed young men will be the destruction of our civilization.
Japan and Germany before World War 2 modernized technologies that they later used for war with the help of British and American companies.  These companies sold it to make a quick buck. Today American companies sell or partner with Chinese companies to share our most advanced technology including technology that has military uses.  Mike Rogers, our Congressman has brought up this issue in the media.  Maybe he ought to look into the activities of our Governor.

Here, from the web site is the connection with our governor.

Governor Snyder's China Connections

Picture An American Company, NeoPhotonics, Morph's into a Chinese Company. It was well publicized during the election that Rick Snyder moved Gateway Computer's manufacturing to China along with thousands of jobs but those were yesterday's jobs. He has also given China technology, developed by American companies and Universities that will give China the edge to compete for tomorrow's jobs and is helping China build a superpower military. Rick Snyder's venture capital company, Ardesta, bought a telecommunications technology company named NeoPhotonics. This company was rich in technology patents but with little manufacturing. Rick Snyder merged this company with one in China, which essentially changed an American Technology Company into
a Chinese one.They then became part of an alliance between Chinese telecommunications companies and Sprint/Nextel that proposed to build the next generation telecommunications network for America, which raised national security concerns for many in Congress.

 NeoPhotonics merges with a Chinese company:

SAN JOSE, Calif. & SHENZHEN, PRC -- NeoPhotonics Corporation of San Jose today announced the completion of their merger with Photon Technology Co., Ltd. of Shenzhen. The new NeoPhotonics expects revenues to exceed $50M in 2005, has more than 1200 employees, primarily in China and the U.S., and has more than 100 customers, many of which are tier one network equipment suppliers.

Photon Technology Co., as China's largest active component manufacturer, has a solid history of continued growth and profitability since its founding in 1993. Combining Photon with NeoPhotonics, the leading developer of integrated component solutions using planar lightwave circuits (PLC), creates a company with the broadest and deepest optical component capability in the industry today. The company's advanced solutions combine active and passive components into products and modules for long-haul, metro and access optical networks.

 The Chinese company was largely owned by the Chinese government

Photon's 14 shareholders, including a government agency in Shenzhen that owned about one-third of the company.

    The main customer for NeoPhotonics was the third largest telecommunications company in the world, Huawei.

NeoPhotonics listed Huawei as 53% of its business in 2010 (SEC filing)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Livingston Dem Casts Vote in Electoral College

A Green Oak Township woman helped make President Obama's re-election official.

On Monday (Dec. 17, 2012), JoAnnMurphy, a long-time Democratic activist and United Auto Workers member, cast one of Michigan's 16 votes in the Electoral College for Obama during a ceremony in the Michigan State Senate chambers.

Of course, first the spelling of President Obama's first name had to be corrected from "Barak" to "Barack." Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer pointed out the spelling error made by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's office. That doesn't inspire much confidence in Johnson's ability to oversee our elections with precision.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Snyder Needs to Disavow His Fund-Raiser's Remarks

When will political candidates learn that what you say in private doesn't stay private anymore?

Ron Weiser, finance chairman of the Republican National Committee and former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, is the latest politician to be caught saying something outrageous. In remarks to a tea party gathering in Milford recorded on videotape, Weiser characterized Detroit voters as people who are dragged out of pool halls and barber shops to vote multiple times. Showing shockingly little political knowledge, ghe also disparaged President Obama's get-out-the-vote operation and predicted it would be unable to get Detroiters to vote.

Weiser has close ties to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. Weiser raised millions of dollars to help Snyder and Republicans take control of the statehouse in 2010. And at the time he made those remarks, Weiser was running for a seat on the University of Michigan board of regents on the Republican ticket.

We already know Weiser holds racist views. His words prove it. Does Snyder agree with his colleague's statements? Michigan voters deserve to know. You can call Snyder's office, Monay through Friday at 517-373-3400 or 517-375-7858, or you can use this form to submit your views online.

Ask him to disavow Weiser.and Weiser's views.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

After Newtown, Does Teaching Qualify as a 'Dangerous' Job?

Rick Snyder and the rest of the Lansing Republicans offered up a lot of phony resons for rushing through their anti-working family legislation but one of the phoniest had to be that police and firefighters should be exempted from the legislation because of the "dangerousness of their jobs."

Teachers don't have dangerous jobs, in Snyder's view.

It didn't take long for those words to come back to bite Snyder, did it?

The shooting of 27 people at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school on Friday should remind us all that teaching, at least since Columbine, is a dangerous profession. Some schools have metal detectors.Some have police in their buildings. Classrooms at the University of Michigan have instructions on the wall regarding what to do if there is an "active shooter" in the area. But teaching is not a dangerous job, according to Snyder.

Teaching shouldn't be a dangerous job. But with a nation awash in semi-automatic weapons and a culture that glorifies violence, every job is a dangerous job. Snyder made it evenmore dangerous by signing legislation allowing guns in schools. Just what we need in the wake of Newtown.

Snyder needs to be held accountable.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Courthosue Crowd Trying to Insulate Itself from Democracy

Is the all-Republican clique that runs the Livingston County Courthouse trying to insulate itself from democracy?

A vacancy created by the resignation of Jay Drick, who was just re-elected in November, means the county commission can appoint his replacement within 30 days. But then voters get to weigh in on the pick. Under current law, a primary would be held, tentatively set for May 7, and then the general election itself, on Aug. 6.

But as WHMI radio points out, a bill passed by the Senate, SB0204, would eliminate the requirement for a special election if the vacancy occurred in an odd-numbered year. That would set up a situation where Livingston County Republicans could perpetuately appoint their own successors -- run for re-election as an incumbent, resign right after the election, and then the rest of the board gets to appoint the replacement, who then gets to run in two years as an incumbent.

This is an insult to democracy. Special elections cost money, that's true. But democracy is priceless.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snyder Can't Hide Anymore

During his 2010 campaign for governor, Rick Snyder kept his views well-hidden. People could believe he was a moderate Republican if they wanted to, with little solid evidence to contradict them.

During his two years as governor, he has kept up the facade, saying this or that was "not on my agenda" when asked about hot-button issues that he didn't want to take a position on at the moment.

But Snyder's true colors are obvious.

When he says something is not on his agenda, Snyder really is inviting whatever far-right group is pushing it to come in and talk to him about putting it on his agenda. It doesn't mean no. It means he's open to being persuaded otherwise.

It's the position of a person who has no core principles whatsoever, who can be pushed around by elements of his party rather than trying to work for what's best for all Michigan residents.

At last, people can put a label on Snyder and it's not "moderate." It's "tool of extremists."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Shame on Lansing Republicans!

Lansing Republicans should be embarrassed.

Locking people out of the Michigan State Capitol on Thursday in order to keep the public from watching the GOP assault on working people was disgraceful.

If Republicans are so proud of what they are doing, why did they keep the people out? What do they have to hide?

Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers, hit the nail on the head with this interview. Passage of so-called "right to work" legislation is really about punishing unions for supporting Democrats who fight for legislation that benefits all workers. It's not about bringing jobs to Michigan or whether or not someone wants to join a union. People exercise that right when they vote on whether or not to join a union in the first place. Majority rules.

Here's King's interview:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Election Results Show Need for Redistricting Reform

Now that the dust is beginning to settle from the November election, those poking into the numbers are finding some interesting things.

Of course it's obvious that President Obama and Senator Debbie Stabenow had big victories statewide in Michigan. They ran terrific campaigns with messages that resonated with the views of most voters.

And so did Democratic congressional candidates and Democratic candidates for the state House. Democratic candidates for Congress won 50 percent of the vote statewide. Yet at the end of the day, that translated into only 36 percent of the state's congressional seats, or 5 of the 14 seats.

In the state House races, Democratic candidates won 53 percent of the total vote cast statewide in those races. That earned them only 46 percent of the seats, or 51, of the 110 seats in the Michigan House.

How is it that the party that receives a minority of the votes for Congress and the Michigan House is able to walk away with most of the seats? It's called gerrymandering. The lines drawn for the congressional and state House seats by the Republicans in Lansing lumped Democratic voters into as few districts as possible.The result is districts that are nearly completely safe for the Republican Party. This robs voters of true choices at the ballot box.

A priority for the 2014 election cycle should be redistricting reform, creating a non-partisan way of re-drawing district lines that is less influenced by partisan politics and more focused on the voters' best interests.

Monday, October 8, 2012

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

Does it look right?

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Town Hall Monday in Howell on Ballot Proposals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Democratic House Candidates Shine in Livingston Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Livingston County Commission Snoozing on "Fracking" Issue

Livingston County is one of the purest pieces of Pure Michigan. State recreation areas, bike trails, and dozens of lakes for fishing and boating add up to a wonderful quality of life that's hard to find anywhere else in Southeast Michigan.

So it's a little surprising that our elected officials have done nothing to protect that quality of life from the latest environmental threat -- deep hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as "fracking." The state of Michigan's Departmenht of Natural Resources has sold drilling rights to land underneath the Brighton Recreation Area and Lakelands Trail to oil and gas companies that open up the area to "fracking."

"Fracking" would allow companies to drill deep underground and inject millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand into rock formations to release fossil fuels stored there. The process is not regulated by the federal government under the Clean Water Act, and companies are not required to disclose what chemicals are being used. The mixture of water, chemicals, and sand should be properly disposed of once used. A spill could ruin a lake, pollute drinking water supplies, and devastate our property values along with our recreational opportunities. Even without a spill, the presence of active wells will mean more noise, odors, and vastly increased truck traffic on roads that are already in dismal condition.

Other elected officials have taken steps to address fracking. Oakland County commissioners have held a townhall meeting explaining "fracking" and its impact on the environment when something goes wrong, as it has elsewhere.

Yet Livingston County Republicans have sat on their hands and done nothing. No townhall meeting is scheduled. It's not on agendas of the county commission.

That loud snore you hear? Our Livingston County Commissioners asleep at the switch yet again.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Standing Up for Workers?

This Sunday's church bulletin at a local Catholic church has a stirring statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the rights of workers as we celebrate Labor Day.

The bishops' statement, borrowing a quote from Pope John Paul II, calls for wages that allow a worker to support a family, legislation to "block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of immigrants and of those on the margins of society."

And it demonstrates strong support for labor unions.

"Unions and other worker associations have a unique and essential responsibility in this needed economic renewal. Our Church has long taught that unions are 'an indispensable elemnt of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies' and are examples of the traditional Catholic principles of solidarity and subsidiarity in action. At their best, unions demonstrate solidarity by bringing workers together to speak and act collectively to protect their rights and pursue the common good. Unions are a sign of subsidiarity by forming associations of workers to have a voice, articulate their needs, and bargain and negotiate with the large economic institutions and structures of government."

That's the church I remember from the 1960s, and I'm glad it's back.

I look forward to the church's on-going campaign to persuade the faithful to live according to the words of the bishops. I plan to attend the informational meeting our church will host on the Protect Our Jobs constitutional amendment expected to be on the ballot this fall. I will read the pastor's column in the bulletin about the need to "inform our consciences" on this important issue. I will listen carefully to the sermons preached about how labor unions demonstrate "traditional Catholic principles" and are "essential" in today's economy. I will read the Michigan bishops' op-eds in the Detroit area newspapers. I will give generously to the people who will be standing at the doors as I leave Mass selling flowers to raise money for striking workers somewhere or to collect donations for out of work families. I will read the flyers placed on the windshield of my car in the church parking lot the weekend before the election.

I look forward to doing all that, but then I remember that we're not talking about fetuses here. The chuch will do all that and more for them. But for those of us who are post-fetuses, well, we'll have to see how much the bishops really mean it when they say labor unions demonstrate Catholic values.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Whose Side Is Livingston County Goverrnment On?

Some Livingston County residents are seeing the power of big oil right in their own backyards.

Residents along a 50-mile stretch of an Enbridge Oil Company pipeline are being intimidated by the company, which has posted armed guards on the easements and in at least one case cut down trees on a resident's property near the pipeline.

But the latest display of power is Enbridge's ability to buy the power of government to intimidate property owners. The Livingston Press and Argus reports that the company has a contract with the sheriff's department to post deputies along the pipeline construction areas allegedly to "keep the peace" between property owners and the pipeline construction crew. But since there have been no actual incidents between property owners and Enbridge, what's the point? Intimidation.

What's especially galling is that the off-duty deputies are wearing uniforms, despite being paid for by Enbridge.

That's what happens when corporations have huge amounts of money to spend. They buy whatever they want, including the services of our taxpayer-supported law enforcement.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

All (Bad) Roads Lead to Home

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to get away for 48 hours, driving more than 500 miles to northern Michigan and back along the shore of Lake Michigan. What a great reminder how beautiful Pure Michigan is!

But after eight hours or more in the car, it was when we hit the border of Livingston County that things literally went to pot. The roads in Livingston County were worse than anywhere else that we drove during those two days, and we were on a number of back roads going from one beach town to another.

That's why the Democratic candidates for Livingston County Commission made improving our roads one of their top priorities in the 2012 campaign platform, released Monday. As the coverage in Hartland Patch points out, the plan is a bold one for moving Livingston County forward, rather than standing pat.

Besides calling for improvements to our roads, the platform also calls for protecting our environment in Livingston County by backing a moratorium on deep drilling until reasonable regulations are in place, more services for senior citizens, improvements to public safety, more transparency in county government, and closer oversight of the agreement on economic development with Ann Arbor SPARK.

The Democratic candidates are offering a bold choice -- move foward or stand pat. Voters in August kicked out two of the "stand pat" incumbents. They'll have a chance to do it again in November.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Denby Tongue-Tied Once Again

There it is again.

The sentence that is increasingly being linked with Rep.Cindy Denby's name in the Livingston Press and Argus -- "State Rep. Cindy Denby, R-Handy Township, didn't return a call for this story."

It's not the first time by a long shot. In June, Denby couldn't be bothered to comment on a story about the synethic drugs being sold under the name K-2. And I've noticed numerous other examples.

In the newspaper for Friday (Augst 24, 2012), Denby wasn't available to talk about Gov. Rick Snyder's decision to go ahead with planning a health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act after lawmakers failed to act.

Did she avoid it because the topic was uncomfortable to talk about? Republicans claim the Affordable Care Act is a "government take-over of the health care system," but the exchanges are nothing more than a big marketplace where people can go and buy PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE. So Denby would have had to try to explain why it was a bad idea to let people know what private insurance is available in the marketplace in one, easy-to-access portal -- basically a website like Travelocity or Orbitz. Was she unable to do that?

Was she afraid to criticize the governor of her own party for going ahead despite the Legislature's refusal to act?

Did she just not think her constituents needed to know what she thought on this issue? Did she not have the "time" to return one phone call?

It's impossible to know, but any of these possibilities -- lack of knowledge, lack of courage, failure to prioritize the issue -- don't speak well of her as a public servant.

The media exists to hold public officials accountable. Dodging press calls has become a regular habit for Denby. She is increasingly leaving the impression that she doesn't think she is accountable to the media -- even friendly media. And that's never good for a public servant.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Democrats Reaching Out to Business

Do far-right Republicans with their anti-tax, anti-regulation speak for all businesses?

The Michigan Democratic Party doesn't think so, and now the party has started a new organization to work more closely with business people.

The Michigan Democratic Business Council will be chaired by a Hamburg Township Democrat, Michael Magdich.

"I am very excited about the MDBC and its ability to help Michigan businesses move forward. As someone with nearly 20 years’ experience in the automotive and renewable energy industry, I know how important government policy is," Magdich said in a news release earlier this week announcing the formation of the Michigan Democratic Business Council.

Magdich said the top goal of the organization is to "gather information from the business community in Michigan on the issues that are affecting them the most so that we can address them together -- to become the conduit of new ideas... ideas in line with our values as Democrats, that direct new policies and reform outdated ones, for the betterment of the business community here in Michigan."

Magdich said the group also hopes to:

Build strong relationships with the business community
Increase support for Democratic candidates and issues
Share information that will help businesses
Aid in networking and business development
Assist businesses in promoting their service or products
Aid in candidate recruitment and development.

Magdich says the group is seeking input from the business community and is inviting business owners or business people to complete a survey available here.

The Michigan Democratic Business Council will hold its first meeting during the Michigan Democratic Party State Convention from 10 am. to noon Sept. 8 in Michigan Room II and III of the Radisson Hotel, 111 N. Grand Avenue, Lansing,MI 48933. The agenda will include an introduction about the group, a discussion of its objectives,  a plan for the next steps, as well as an opportunity to get involved.

For more information, contact the Michigan Democratic Business Council, P.O. Box 28, Dexter, MI 48130
or email

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Enderle's First Ad Takes on Rogers' Silence on Oil Spill

Lance Enderle's campaign for the 8th Congressional District seat took a big step forward with the release of the campaign's first internet ad this week.

The ad links Republican incumbent Mike Rogers with Enbridge Pipeline Co., the company responsible for a tar sands oil spill in the Kalamazoo River and its tributaries two years ago, as well as the company's reconstruction of a portion of its pipeline in Livingston County. That reconstruction has riled homeowners who are trying to get fair settlements from the company for additional assessments needed for the reconstruction. Some homeowners have complained that the company cut down trees outside of the existing easement or posted armed guards near the portion of the pipeline on their easements.

The ad takes Rogers to task for remaining silent after the spill and amid the current controversy. Enderle's campaign needs help to get the ad on the air and you can help by visiting his website to make a donation. This ad deserves to be seen widely so share it with your friends now and help Lance get it on the air with a donation!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Democrats Agree -- County Board Needs New Leaders

Talk about an understatement. The headline in Monday's Livingston Press and Argus reads "County Board in Need of Leaders."

The premise of the story is that since long-serving Jack LaBelle as well as incumbent Jim Mantey both lost in the Aug. 7 Republican primary and current board chair Maggie Jones decided not to seek re-election, there may not be anybody among the remaining six commissioners ready to step up and be chair.

That's a little pathetic, isn't it? David Domas has been on the board for 20 years. Dennis Dolan of Hamburg Townnship has been on the board for 10 years, althoughy his presence is hard to detect in terms of anything other than attendance.

The article smacks of a little bit of "measuring the drapes" for the new chair's office since the commissioners are talking about who's going to be chair before the election is even held, even though five of them face serious challenges from Democrats.

Voters gave Maggie Jones a scare in a primary two years ago and they dumped two of the three incumbents who had primaries this year. It seems to me the voters are making the same judgment as the headline. We need new leaders at the county level.

In five districts at least, they'll have a choicein November -- Bruce Schneider of Brighton Township in District 1; Jeanette DiFlorio of Oceola Township in District 2; Dane Morris of Hartland Township in District 3; Jeff Lee of Genoa Township in District 7, and Jim Katakowski of Hamburg Township in District 8.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Emergency Managers Need Not Apply in Livingston County

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican Legislature seem to have two sets of rules for how to react when a Michigan community struggles financially.

If the community is predominantly Democratic and poor, they obviously can't handle their own finances and need to be taken over by the state via an emergency manager who basically shuts down the democratic process and rips up union contracts. Think Benton Harbor.

If the community is predominantly Republican and better off, they deserve to have a special law passed giving them a bailout from the state. Think Handy Township and Howell Township in Livingston County.

That's the upshot of a package of legislation backed by Livingston County's two Republican representatives -- Cindy Denby and Bill Rogers -- to deal with the millions of dollars of water and sewar debt they helped create in Livingston County when they were Handy Township supervisor and Livingston County Commission chair, respectively.

The legislation, designed specifically for Livingston County, makes communities with water and sewar debt that they can't pay back eligible for loans from the state emergency loan fund. Commmunities can't apply until they are on the verge of default on payments to bond-holders -- something that Howell Township faces in August 2013 and Handy Township sometime in the next two years. But the fact that they can apply for these loans makes it far less likely that Snyder will appoint an emergency manager to take over the two townships.

Neither Denby nor Rogers has explained why the emergency manager process wasn't good enough for their home communities when their party sees it as the ideal solution for other places in the state. Why do Howell and Handy townships deserve to be offered low-interest loans from the state, especially since their financial problems are self-inflicted? These communities chose to back bonds for private developers of subdivisions at the peak of the housing boom and then were left holding the bag when the developers walked away. Other counties in the state never got into the business of backing bonds for private developers, but expected private enterprise to cover those costs.

Howell and Handy townships didn't have to do what they did. This wasn't a case of communities struggling to provide basic services such as police and fire protection in the face of drastic cuts in state revenue sharing. These townships made bad decisions that they didn't have to make.

And for that, they seem to be getting special treatment.

Friday, August 10, 2012

So Much for Keeping 'Detroit-style' Politics Out of Livingston County

More than once I've heard Livingston County residents smear anyone who moved here from Wayne County by saying that we didn't need Wayne County-style politics in Livingston County. One recent letter-writer (anonymous, of course) said Livingston County didn't need any Democrats "infecting" the county.

And nationally Republicans have accused President Obama of bringing "Chicago-style" politics to the nation.

The implication in both cases is that politics in areas dominated by Democrats are corrupt and that Republican politics are always inherently pure. Of courswe, that's overlooking things like House Speaker Jase Bolger's dirty tricks over in Kent County.

So this week we find out that we don't need to import Wayne County or Chicago style politics to Livingston County. It's already here.

The Thaddeus McCotter fraudulent petition scandal apparently involves a Livingston County woman. Mary Melissa Turnbull, a McCotter staffer, has been charged in the case with a felony and a misdemeanor. The felony could bring up to five years in prison.

It would be interesting to know what Turnbull's involvement in local Livingston County campaigns has been. Wouldn't want any "infection" to spread.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sign of the Times?

Yard signs don't win elections. That was proven again in Tuesday's primary. Based on the number of yard signs littering the county, it would have been easy to predict that Carolyn Henry was going to defeat William Vailliencourt for the Republican nomination for county prosecutor. And even that Kevin Spicer was going to defeat incumbent Gary McCririe for the Republican nomination for Genoa Township Supervisor. Or that Gary Child was going to defeat incumbent Jack LaBelle for the Republican nomination for Livingston County Commissioner in District 9.

Oh, wait. That last one did happen.

And it may have been a case where the yard signs played a role, subliminally.

Childs owns a bike shop. And his yard signs featured the symbol of a cyclist in motion, although it took me a while to figure out what that bunch of scribbles in the corner really was. DId voters see that as a reminder that a more energetic candidate was running against a long-time stalwart? That Childs was about moving Livingston County forward instead of standing pat?

Whether it was the signs or not, voters sent a message that saying you have the lowest tax rate and a high bond rating just isn't enough in Livingston County anymore.

Meanwhile, up in County Commission District 2, voters in the Republican primary helpedWilliam Green delivered the same message to incumbent Jim Mantey. Voters see problems in the county and don't think the Republican incumbents are taking care of them. Democrats, like Jeanette DiFlorio in District 2, are ready with solutions.

And we'll have a lot more to say than we have the lowest tax rate in the state.

Monday, August 6, 2012

No Democratic Trickery in GOP Primary

Livingston County Democrats have done their best to stay out of the Republican primaries in Livingston County, except to wonder from afar why it is just about every incumbent at the county level and above is being challenged this year.

So it was with a great deal of surprise to read in Sunday's Livingston Press and Argus that we were being accused of actually creating one of those primaries by recruiting a stealth candidate to run against Republican Bill Rogers in the 42nd State House seat.

So I want to make one thing perfectly clear: 

The Livingston County Democratic Party has only one candidate in Tuesday's primary for the 42nd House seat and that is Shanda Willis. We did not recruit anyone to run in the Republican primary and as long as I am chair of the party, we never will.

Both the rules of the Michigan Democratic Party and the bylaws of the Livingston County Democratic Party clearly state that party resources may not be used to promote the candidacy of anyone who is not a member of the Democratic Party. I follow that to the letter. We are Democrats. We recruit Democrats. We run as Democrats. We vote for Democrats. Period.

Democrats in the county should not be confused. We are not suggesting that anyone vote in the Republican primary for the "lesser of two evils." Any Republican who goes to Lansing would help the GOP maintain control of the Michigan House and permit it to continue pursuing its extreme, far-right agenda, whether the local representative votes for those bills or not.

Shanda Willis is the only Democrat running in the 42nd House race. Our party supports only Shanda Willis in the 42nd House race. She is the only candidate in either party who will stand up for better schools for our children, tax fairness for seniors and families, the rights of working people, and the rights of women. And in the 47th District, we support Shawn Lowe Desai, and only Shawn Lowe Desai.

Any suggestion otherwise is pure fantasy and has the potential to undermine our candidates in November.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Livingston's Airport Selling Assets to Make Ends Meet

The State of Michigan wants some answers from Livingston County -- the Republican-run entity that every election season brags about how sound its finances are.

Turns out, the Livingston County Commission in 2011 allowed three of its funds to run deficits. And that's a big no-no. The state has demanded a deficit elimination plan for each of the three funds.

The details of only one deficit elimination plan have become public yet. That is the plan to wipe out a $88,895 deficit for the Spencer J. Hardy Airport, not by cutting expenses or raising revenue to bring them into balance but by selling off assets. In this case, the county plans to grant an easement to Enbridge Pipeline Co. for a new pipeline across airport land for $500,000. Of course, Enbridge hasn't agreed to pay half a million dollars for the rights to a strip of airport land, but that's the county's "plan" for eliminating the deficit.

Also running deficits are the community corrections fund and the septage receiving station, but the county has yet to reveal the amounts of the red ink or the plan for eliminating them. In fact, the deficit in the airport fund only came to light because Livingston County Democrats noticed the discussion in the county commission's minutes.

It was an interesting discovery, since two years ago Democrats running for county commission pointed out the red ink in the little-used airport and were ridiculed by Republicans for daring to suggest that their financial management skills were lacking. For example, Richard Pine, Livingston County Aeronautical Facilities Board member, touted himself as "a finance guy with 33 years of experience at the car company that wasn’t take over by the government": and claimed that "Even with the present economic downtown, the airport generates enough cash to pay back its loan (from the county for airport construction) and then some."

Turns out that wasn't true.

The county commission insists that the airport is run "like a business" and even has a policy that "any services that lose funding (either charges-for services, fees, or contractual, etcetera) or which costs exceed the revenue generated and which services are not basic to the health and safety of the residents of Livingston County and/or the services are provided by others; shall be reduced commensurate with funding levels." Yet the commission did not require the airport facilities board to bring its spending into line with on-going revenues.

Despite not being able to pay its bills, the airport is in the midst of a huge expansion that includes a new terminal and a parking ramp largely paid for with federal funds, even though usage at the facility is declining. A Michigan Aeronautics Commission report from 2008 titled, "Michigan Airport System Plan," projects that the number of aircraft based at the airport is expected to plummet in coming years – from 137 in 2005, to 132 in 2010 to 103 by 2010 and to just 75 by 2030.

So if the airport can't afford the facility it has now, how will it make ends meet with an even bigger facility?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

McCormack Brings Campaign for High Court to Livingston County

Earlier this month, a Michigan man left prison after 27 years behind bars -- where he never belonged in the first place.

David Gavitt was seriously injured in a 1985 fire that killed his wife and two daughters. He was convicted of arson and murder based on faulty arson testimony and lab results.

Students in the University of Michigan Law School’s Innocence Clinic proved that the fire was accidental and persuaded the prosecutor to dismiss the charges based on the new evidence.

Now the woman who heads the Innocence Clinic will come to Livingston County to talk about her campaign to join the Michigan Supreme Court.

Bridget Mary McCormack is dean of clinical affairs at the U of M Law School. She will speak on Wednesday, June 27, at 7 p.m. at Livingston County Democratic Party headquarters, 10321 Grand River Road, Suite 600, in Brighton.

McCormack is one of three candidates endorsed by the Michigan Democratic Party for three seats on the state's highest court being filled in November. The other two endorsed by the party are the Hon. Shelia Johnson of Oakland County and the Hon. Connie Kelley of Wayne County.

Although they are endorsed by the party, their names will appear on the non-partisan section of the ballot, as is the case with all candidates for the high court. Voters must vote for the judicial candidates separately. Voting a straight party ticket does not include the judicial candidates.

Besides the Innocence Clinic, McCormack is also responsible for the Pediatric Health Advocacy Clinic to represent families with sick children in cases involving their health. She also is responsible for the Domestic Violence Clinic, which helps victims of domestic violence and their families deal with the court system and other problems.

McCormack presents a strong contrast with the Republicans who now control the high court. The GOP-majority rules for corporations and insurance companies -- and against consumers and working people -- more than 80 percent of the time.

McCormack has taught law for 16 years and has been dean of clinical affairs at the University of Michigan Law School since 2003.

McCormack's speech will be followed by a dessert and coffee reception. There is no charge. Call (810) 229-4212 or email for more information.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Denby Missing in Action -- Again

The sale of synthetic drugs throughout Livingston County and the rest of southeast Michigan is a topic that's been heating up for awhile. Lawmakers are finally taking notice, and even the Livingston Press and Argus notes that they're a little late to pick up on the issue.

In a story published Wednesday (June 6, 2012), the newspaper reported that some Livingston County residents complained our local lawmakers had been ignoring the issue. Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, said that wasn't true. They were just busy passing the budget. What? They can't multi-task?

Who knows what Livingston County's other state representative, Rep. Cindy Denby, R-Fowlerville, thinks about the issue? The article said: "Denby did not return a call regarding this story."

It's not the first time Denby has failed to return a phone call for comment in a news story. It's sort of a habit of Denby, who two years ago said she focused on constituent service rather than passing legislation. In this case, passing a bill dealing with synthetic drugs that are harming local residents would seem to qualify as constituent service. She could knock off two birds with one stone.

And failing to return a phone call for a story about how legislators are ignoring an issue probably isn't the best foot to put forward.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Something's Happenening in Livingston GOP

Something is happening in the Livingston County Republican Party.

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

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

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

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

Brighton Township Man Would Beef Up Livingston Law Enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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

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

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hamburg Township Man Running for County Commission

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

Friday, April 20, 2012

Livingston Dems' 'Defend the Dream' Winans Dinner Kicks off 2012 Election Season

The American Dream -- we all know what it is, but President Barack Obama has put it into words for us. In his 2011 State of the Union speech, President Obama told Congress and the nation:

"As contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth. We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything’s possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from."

But since 2010, from Washington to Lansing, the American Dream has been under vicious attack. The idea of America as "a place where you can make it if you try" is eroding, as more and more protections for working families are dismantled. Livingston County Democrats know that the future of working people will be on the line in the November election and we are gearing up to Defend the Dream during the 2012 election campaign.

Livingston County Democrats will kick off the 2012 election season next month with their 29th annual Winans Dinner with the theme "Defend the Dream." A great line-up of invited guests highlights the evening.

The event, set for Friday, May 11, includes U.S. Sen. Carl Levin as the top invited guest, as well as Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. Democratic nominees for the Michigan Supreme Court, Bridget McCormack and the Hon. Shelia Johnson have confirmed that they will attend, as well as Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing.

Candidates for state and local office will also be on hand, including Shanda Willis, candidate for the state House from the 42nd District, and Shawn Lowe Desai, candidate for the state House from the 47th District, as well as Matt Evans, candidate for Livingston County Prosecutor.

The event is the Livingston Dems' most important fund-raiser of the year. Funds from the dinner will help support Democratic candidates up and down the ticket Defend the Dream of America as a place where "you can make it if you try."

Tickets are $50 per person through April 30 and $60 per person after that. The event, which begins at 6 p.m., includes a cash bar, snacks, dinner, and a silent auction. Vegetarian options are available with advance notice. You can order tickets on-line through ActBlue.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Obama's Tone Shows Respect Even for Opponents

The 2012 election campaign for president is going to be a tough one, but the tone that President Obama is trying to set is worlds-apart from the one Republican Mitt Romney is using.

President Obama showed that in his remarks during an appearance in Dearborn on Wednesday (April 18, 2012).

Obama, of course, drew a stark contrast with Romney's views.

"The last thing we can afford to do is to go back to the policies that got us in this mess in the first place. That's what other people running for this office want to do. They make no secret of it," he said.

But then he added, "I've got no doubt they love this country, but they are wrong (about their policies)."

Admitting that his opponent loves America is not something that Obama's foes have ever done for him. Romney himself uses code words like Obama doesn't "understand" America or Obama "apologizes" for America -- words intended to put Obama outside the mainstream of America, to make him seem foreign to us.

Romney has also tried to paint Obama as a socialist, without actually using the words, telling one audience, "he takes his political inspiration from Europe, and from the socialist-democrats in Europe.”

Romney leaves most of the dirty work to others who question Obama's citizenship or call him a "Kenyan" or a Muslim -- all ways to make Obama seem foreign, un-American, not like us, an outsider, someone who doesn't belong. In 2008, Sen. John McCain rebuked a woman at an event who called Obama an "Arab." It remains to be seen whether Romney will have the courage to do that.

Going along with the idea that Obama is an outsider, not one of us, is more than a matter of a lack of civility. It is dangerous for the nation. In times of national disasters or attacks in the past, the nation rallied around its leader. If, God forbid, something happens to our nation between now and the election, will Americans rally around someone the opposition has been telling them for years is an outsider?

Obama is willing to portray his opponent as someone who belongs. It would be better for the country if the other side would return the favor.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shawn Lowe Desai Announces Candidacy for House District 47

A Howell man who has been a lifelong resident of Livingston County will seek the Democratic nomination for the 47th House seat.

Shawn Lowe Desai filed nominating papers on Tuesday (April 18, 2012) with the Livingston County Clerk’s office for the seat currently held by Republican Cindy Denby.

"As someone who was born and raised in Livingston County, I feel a deep loyalty and responsibility to spending my life and career improving the quality of life in the county which has given so much to my family and me," Desai said.

"My family, which has had five generations living and working in Howell alone, is spread throughout Livingston County and includes teachers, doctors, farmers, businessmen, and township trustees who keep me intimately informed about affairs in the county so that I can understand how our county works and how the state Legislature can be a better partner in improving the quality of life here.

"These deep connections will help me use the power of the office of state representative effectively so that the full influence of Livingston County is leveraged to affect decision-making in Lansing.

"I expect the votes I make and the bills that I craft will reflect and reinforce the Livingston County values of fairness, responsibility, and freedom. I pledge to do everything in my power to restore and develop Michigan’s status as a manufacturing powerhouse and a leading maker of goods and services.

"We in Michigan, and especially in Livingston County, are a vibrant and talented community and we have tremendous potential. We can tap this potential effectively if, as lawmakers, we provide for first class Michigan schools so that a student who attends a school in Howell, Fowlerville, Hartland – or anywhere in Livingston County – truly understands how the world works and how they can be successful in it."

Desai has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan State University. As a Michigan State student, Desai studied economic policy in several Japanese cities, including Kyoto, Tokyo, and Otsu. From 2011 to March of this year, he worked at Recellular, Inc., a Dexter company that recycles used cell phones for the Cell Phones for Soldiers Program and for Hopeline which is a domestic violence outreach program. He currently works as a production worker at TRW Automotive, Fowlerville.

"I am proud to be playing a small part in Michigan’s resurgent automotive business. The industry has a long history in Michigan and has a major role in our nation’s economic recovery," he said.

Desai attended Brighton Area Schools and graduated from Detroit Country Day High School. As a student, Desai received the AP Scholar Award, the Mathematical Association of America's achievement award as a finalist in the Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition, the certificate of merit from the American Association of Teachers of German in April 2005, and a certificate of honorable merit Summa Cum Laude from the American Classical League for outstanding performance on the National Latin Exam.

He has worked and volunteered at Southwest Elementary School in Howell and attends the First Presbyterian Church in Howell. He is single.

People wishing more information about Desai’s campaign may contact him at

The 47th House District is made up of the city of Howell and the townships of Conway, Cohoctah, Deerfield, Tyrone, Handy, Howell, Oceola, Hartland, Iosco, Marion, and Unadilla.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Levin Sheds Light on Link Between Gas Prices, Speculators

If you're like me, you get a lot of emails from politicians, some asking for money, others keeping you up to date on their activities. Some you open, glance through, and forget about. A few make an impact.

Sen. Carl Levin most recent email -- on gas prices -- fell into that last category. Republicans have been trying to make hay against President Obama as gas prices have risen in recent months. Estimates are that as much as 56 cents of the cost of each gallon of gas is due to speculators. And 80 percent of the trades made on a barrel of oil are made by speculators, according to testimony to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Levin.

The excessive speculation distorts the relationship between supply and demand. As Levin explained, speculation keeps prices from falling when demand is low because speculators are betting that the price will eventually go back up, even if demand is low right now.

"Nowadays, that relationship is largely absent. There is no shortage in the supply of oil globally, and the United States is producing more oil than it has in a decade. Last year, the United States actually exported more gasoline and other petroleum products than we imported. At the same time, U.S. demand for fuel actually sank," Levin's email said.

"Under normal economic conditions, rising production and lower demand should mean lower prices. Instead, prices are more volatile than ever. One key reason is that speculators are playing too large a role in the oil market. If we are to get a handle on oil prices, we have to curb excessive speculation."

So why doesn't Congress do something? Turns out it already has. The Dodd-Frank Act passed in July 2010 told the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to establish trading limits to prevent speculators from dominating markets and distorting prices. The CFTC wrote the rules, but they are not yet in force because the financial industry has filed a lawsuit to stop the new rules and throw them out permanently.

Levin last week worked with a group of 18 other U.S. senators to file a brief with the court in support of the rules imposing limits on speculators. The brief stresses that the Dodd-Frank Act required limits on speculators, limits that were first put in place in 1936.

Lots of money is at stake, and the financial industry will be well-funded in this court fight. Levin is right to highlight that speculators are driving up the cost of oil.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Training for the 99 Percent This Weekend

How did we get into this economic mess that started in 2008? Why did Wall Street melt down? What can we do to create more fairness for the 99 percent? volunteers are hosting two events this weekend in and near Livingston County as part of the group's 99% Spring Training program taking place across the nation. Many groups are collatorating on the 99% Spring Training, and is coordinating the registration process, so the events vary.

One will be Saturday, April 14, in Fowlerville, at 2 p.m. at a private home at Nicholson and Sargent Road.

According to the email from urging sign-ups for the event:

"Our movement will be holding huge rallies in every major city on Tax Day to call out the 1% who refuse to pay their fair share. We'll be gathering massive crowds to confront CEOs and top executives at annual shareholder meetings of Wall Street banks, dirty energy polluters, and corporations that refuse to treat workers fairly. And we'll be doing everything we can to call out the corrupting influence of corporate money on our elections.

"At the training in Fowlerville, you'll get prepared to take part in these bold actions and to build connections with other progressives who want to see a 99% Spring in America.

"We'll practice telling the story of what happened to our economy and what a different future could look like, we'll learn the history of nonviolent direct action, and we'll train and plan to take direct action ourselves—in the footsteps of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.—to win change.

"By the end of the training we'll be ready to join the legacy of people using direct action to transform the political landscape in this country."

An event on Sunday, April 15, will educate the public about the causes of the recession that we are climbing out of. It will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the South Lyon Library, 27005 S Milford Rd., South Lyon.

People will have a chance to talk about how they have been impacted by the economic melt down and receive training in problem solving.

This is a great way to learn how to raise the issue of tax and economic fairness in an effective way so that it becomes part of the debate for the 2012 election.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Democrat Shanda Willis Files to Run in 42nd House Race

A Brighton woman with 19 years of experience in the health care field is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 42nd House Seat.

Shanda Willis filed her papers on Wednesday (April 11, 2012) with the Livingston County Clerk’s office for the seat now held by Republican Bill Rogers.

"My years in the health care field spent caring for women and babies, as well as having two children of my own, have taught me to understand and be sympathetic to the needs of families. I will bring that same sensitivity to my job in the Legislature. The first question I will ask about any bill is, 'How does this help protect our families?'" she pledged.

Willis said central issues in her campaign will include protecting the rights of workers, tax fairness for middle class families and seniors, and improved funding for Livingston County schools. If elected to the Michigan House, she would vote to repeal the pension tax on senior citizens, restore the cuts in state aid to local schools that have devastated public schools throughout Livingston County, and stand up for women’s health concerns.

"My two children currently attend Brighton Area Public Schools. I believe that we need to fund education so that identified student needs can be met at every level of student ability. Promoting and funding public education in a safe environment is crucial as the means of developing our children’s greatest abilities to ensure their future success," she said.

"As a woman and a health care professional, I am a staunch believer in the need for women to have the chance to obtain safe reproductive health care. Every woman should have the right to have personal control of her own body," she said.

Willis said she also supports collective bargaining and the right to form a union, which she said is now under attack by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

"As a former nurse and member of a nurses’ union (the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council/Michigan Nurses Association), I know how important it is for employees to have a voice in determining their wages, benefits, and working conditions. Bill Rogers has failed to stand up for working people with his support of legislation stripping teachers of many collective bargaining rights. Other workers will be next if we don’t stand up for workers now," Willis said.

Willis currently is assistant director of nursing for Omni Home Care Inc., Plymouth. She graduated from Brighton High School in 1989 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Michigan in 1994.

Willis’ nursing career has focused on pediatrics, women’s health, medical device sales, home health care, and education. She has worked at some of the area’s most outstanding health care facilities, including the University of Michigan Medical Center and Botsford General Hospital.

She is the mother of 13-year-old twins.

People wishing more information about Willis’ campaign may contact her at or check out her page on Facebook at Shanda Willis for House.

The 42nd House district includes the City of Brighton and the townships of Brighton Charter, Genoa, Green Oak, Hamburg, and Putnam.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Maddow Back on Michigan GOP's Immediate Effect Story

Rachel Maddow seems to have gotten under the skin of Michigan Republicans with her reporting on House Republicans' abuse of the immediate effect provision of the Michigan Constitution.

Republicans accused her of "whining" and "sour grapes" after she reported that the House Republican majority has refused to grant minority Democrats' demand that a roll call be taken on whether to give a bill immediate effect, a step that requires a two-thirds vote. But Maddow isn't intimidatede.

"Bring it on. Keep shooting the messenger," she told told House Republicans at the end of her report on Monday (April 9, 2012), her second.

Watch it below.

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