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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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Livingston Dems -- Come Out for Obama on May 5!

Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest of the cyberspace tools that the political world has adopted are great ways to engage voters. But sometimes, sharing a link, clicking "Like" or even posting a comment just aren't enough. You have to actually BE there.

One of those times is Saturday, May 5, when Michigan Democrats will officially nominate Barack Obama for a second term as president. Democrats will meet in caucuses all across the state to raise their hands and show their support for the president. No absentee ballots, no clicking "Like," -- you have to be there.

Livingston County Democrats will meet in three caucuses, based on where you live. The sites are:

Village Manor Retirement, 9501 E. Highland Rd., Howell, for residents of the City of Howell and the townships of Cohoctah, Conway, Deerfield, Handy, Hartland, Howell, Oceola, and Tyrone.

Livingston County Democratic Party Headquarters, 10321 Grand River Road, Suite 600 of the Fonda Place Office Park, Brighton, for the residents of the townships of Brighton Charter, Genoa, Green Oak, Iosco, Marion, and the city of Brighton.

Hamburg Public Library, 10411 Merrill Road, Whitmore Lake, for the residents of the townships of Hamburg, Putnam, and Unadilla.

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the show-of-hands voting will take place at 11 a.m. In between, we will have speeches from state and local candidates, information about how you can get involved in the 2012 campaign, information about coming events, opportunities to sign up to be precinct delegates, and so on. And we'll have some Obama bumper stickers and pins available for donations so you can make your support visible.

You do not need to be an official member of the Michigan Democratic Party, but you will need to sign a statement that you are participating as a Democrat. You do not even have to be registered to vote to participate. You only have to be 18 and registered to vote by election day. That mean high school students can participate, too! Spread the word among your young friends!

If you have questions about the caucus process, please call party headquarters, 810-229-4212 or email

Barack Obama has been there for us so many times in the last four years. Now it's time for us to be there for him.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Michigan Dems Offering Scholarship Competition

High school graduation time is approaching and with it, thoughts of college are filling many students' minds. Close behind is how to pay for college.

Democrats in the Michigan Senate have proposed the Michigan 2020 plan, which would cover the cost of college tuition, books, and related expenses for Michigan students. When fully implemented, it would cost $1.8 billion a year, paid for by closing tax loopholes and ending tax credits that are not of proven usefulness.

Partisan politics being what they are, Republicans in the Michigan Senate are unlikely to consider the plan -- unless the public gets behind it. Senate Democrats are promoting the plan with a contest that will allow a student to win $10,000 toward college costs -- the amount that all students would receive if the plan were fully implemented.

The #mi2020 Scholarship Competition asks students to submit a video demonstrating why the 2020 Plan should be enacted. The rules for the competition are here.

This contest has a twin impact -- it can help at least one talented student with college costs and it can raise public awareness and support for a plan that will produce the most educated workforce in the nation.

Let the young people in your life know about this!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

TV Interview Features Matt Evans, Dem Prosecutor Candidate

Matt Evans explains what motivates him to run for the Democratic nomination for Livingston County Prosecutor in an exclusive interview with G1NBC, an on-line television station in Howell.

"I was always raised to believe that we have to give back to our communities. I've had a very successful career and it's time (because) I have something to offer. I have many things I can offer the job and bring perspectives to the job that would be unique," said Evans, a Green Oak resident who has extensive experience with criminal trials.

He pledged to make sure crime victims are involved and kept informed about their cases, noting that he has had many opportunities to speak to victims even though he has been a defense attorney for 16 years. "Victims really sometimes feel that they are just along for the ride," he said, saying making sure victims are not forgotten would be one of his focuses.

"It would be an honor and a privilege to be a prosecutor for Livingston County. I look at this as a position of trust," he said.

Call the Livingston County Democratic Party, 810-229-4212 or email to become involved in Matt's campaign.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Michigan Emergency Manager Law Back in Spotlight

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has put Michigan's emergency manager law back into the national spotlight with a segment on her show Monday (April 2, 2012). Maddow called the law, which is the subject of a referendum attempt, evidence that Michigan had taken the hardest right turn of any state in the nation.

When you think about it, that's pretty amazing. If there is one thing that has made Americans Americans, it was supposed to be "No Taxation without Representation." The whole Boston tea party thing (the real tea party) was about a tax on tea that was imposed on the American colonies by Great Britain without any say by the residents here, after all. Discontent over that and other taxes was what sparked the American Revolution (along with other indignities such as quartering British troops in American homes).

So that's why Maddow can say the Michigan law is the farthest right of any measure enacted by Republican-led state governments in the last couple years. It strikes at the very foundation of our democracy, something Ricl Snyder thinks only people in wealthy cities deserve.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Experienced Criminal Trial Lawyer Running for County Prosecutor

A Livingston County attorney with extensive criminal trial experience is running for Livingston County Prosecutor, seeking to replace incumbent David Morse who is not seeking another term in November.

Matt Evans of Green Oak Township says his 16 years of courtroom experience give him the experience to be a strong prosecutor who will keep Livingston County residents safe. He filed his paperwork for the post Monday (April 2, 2012) with the Livingston County Clerk's office in Howell.

"I am anxious use my extensive experience to serve the people of Livingston County and to ensure that our families and homes remain safe," Evans said. "As a defense attorney I had to be able to put myself in the shoes of the prosecutor in order to effectively represent my clients. This experience will be invaluable as County Prosecutor.

"An important aspect of being the Prosecutor is managing an office. Before beginning my law practice I was a Vice President and Controller of Michigan National Bank’s mortgage subsidiary. I have 15 years of experience managing staffs and making budgets."

As a defense attorney, Evans has completed more than 25 homicide trials and more than 100 other felony and misdemeanor trials for cases involving armed robbery, drugs, embezzlement, and kidnapping.

"Fortunately, Livingston County does not experience the same levels of crime that I have dealt with in the Detroit Metropolitan area. I pledge to be a tough but fair prosecutor who will keep it that way," Evans said.

While Evans said his courtroom experience would make him a tough prosecutor, he stressed that a prosecutor must show compassion for those who have been victims of crime. Evans’ own compassion is demonstrated by his experience as a board member for the charity Help for Our Disabled Troops, an organization that helps wounded veterans who have lost limbs modify their homes to be more accessible and even to construct homes made especially for them.

Evans also is very active in other community organizations as well. He is past president of Lutherans for Life, served as chair of the Livingston County Democratic Party and has coached Little League. He attends St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where he is a deacon.

An attorney for 16 years, Evans received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western Michigan University in 1980 and earned his law degree from Michigan State University in January 1996.

Evans has an extensive record of participation in affairs of the legal profession. In 2009, he served on the State Bar of Michigan District Character and Fitness Committee after being recruited to participate in the review process for applicants seeking admission to the bar.

From 2003 to the present, he has served as a member of the board of directors of the Criminal Advocacy Program for the Third Circuit Court, responsible for the training and certification of attorneys seeking assignments to represent indigent defendants. He planned, organized and presented numerous seminars on a variety of legal topics for the training program.

In 2005, the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan honored Evans with the "Right to Counsel" Award, given in recognition of his efforts to improve the atmosphere for attorneys who represent the poor by implementing standards of practice for attorneys for the indigent.

He served as president of the Wayne County Criminal Defense Bar Association from 2001to 2004, with a membership of over 300 attorneys. When a court budget crisis caused the closing of the court library, Evans attained grant funding and opened a legal research center at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice staffed part time by a research attorney who assists attorneys representing indigent defendants. He also established a mentoring program for new attorneys.

From 2003 to 2004, Evans served on the State Bar of Michigan Task Force for Indigent Defense and was the key drafter of final language approved by the General Assembly on practice standards and funding of attorneys representing indigent defendants. In 2003, he was the keynote speaker on indigent criminal defense systems and standards of practice at the State Bar of Michigan’s Criminal Law Section annual conference.

He and his wife Kelly have lived in Green Oak Township for 9 years and have a son, who attends Huron Valley Lutheran High School.