Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Granholm For Governor: Truth Squad: Second Debate

So glad these guys do this. I have notes, but I cannot write this stuff up that fast- so here you go-

DeVos' Debate Distortions: Correcting the Record

"I believe in public education. The people will not see a stronger advocate for public education than me." But Dick DeVos and his wife Betsy believe in taking public tax dollars for private education which drains money from public schools. Dick and Betsy founded All Children Matter, a national organization pushing for vouchers throughout the country. It has been widely reported that the pro-voucher group is lobbying for vouchers in Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia, Wisconsin and Utah. There's a reason why the Grand Rapids Press called the couple "the face of the voucher movement." The Detroit News reported Betsy DeVos contributed $200,000 to All Children Matter just this past April. Dick and Betsy also led the unsuccessful 2000 campaign for school vouchers, spending some $10 million. And don't forget, on December 2, 2002, DeVos made his position clear while speaking to the Heritage Foundation: "But when the time comes, we will bring the fight back to Michigan again and do everything we can there."

DeVos said Governor Jennifer Granholm cut funding for public education. That couldn't be further from the truth. Under Governor Granholm's leadership, state funding for K-12 public education is at an all-time high of $7,085 per pupil. Dick DeVos wants you to believe the Governor isn't doing enough to educate our kids, but Governor Granholm is a champion of public education. She is revolutionizing early childhood education programs to get kids ready for school. She instituted tough new curriculum standards for our kids to give them the tools they need to get 21st Century jobs, and she's fighting to give every child in Michigan access to a $4,000 scholarship for college, a plan that DeVos' Republican friends in the Legislature are blocking. DeVos, on the other hand, financed a ballot initiative to create a risky school voucher scheme that would have drained money from public schools and vowed to revisit the issue later.

DeVos said that a meeting was already set up with the Big Three CEOs and President Bush. It's not true. The Associated Press reported on September 6, 2006, "A summit between President Bush and the heads of the Big Three automakers has been pushed back until after the November election, despite an expected visit to the state by Bush this week and increasing pressure from critics who say the White House is ignoring the needs of the struggling industry." DeVos was wrong. In fact, his party said: "The president is meeting with the Big Three after the election," Anderson said. "The president of the United States is not going to bow to political pressure from Gov. Granholm." (Sarah Anderson, Michigan Republican Party).

DeVos: "I went to Washington to fight for MI workers. There was no tax break." The truth is that major media outlets described it as a "tax break." From the Associated Press: "Three months after the DeVos' $ 1 million GOP donation, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and House Speaker Newt Gingrich put a last-minute provision onto the compromise tax bill that gave Amway a $ 19 million tax break on its Asian branches, the magazine reported." (Associated Press, October 28, 1998)

DeVos said, "The best way to get health care is to get a job." But the truth is almost 900,000 people do not have health care and they do have a job. Dick DeVos is simply ignoring the problems facing the working uninsured.

( I changed that last bit from the campaign site because the way the Granholm people worded it didn't sound right. I took this from my notes.)

DeVos said he fought for Michigan jobs when lobbying for unfair trade with China. The fact is Governor Granholm did not cause Michigan's economic problems; Dick DeVos' support for unfair trade and outsourcing caused them. Dick DeVos' support for President Bush and unfair trade policies cause the pain our automakers, workers, and economy are feeling now, not Governor Granholm. Michigan lost over 240,000 jobs during the last 2 _ years under Engler, and we have gained 24,000 jobs under Governor Granholm. Michigan's economic problems are a result of slow national economic growth under Bush; and more importantly, the slump in the U.S. auto industry and the fact is that Michigan is far more dependent upon the auto industry than any other state, according to a recent report by the respected Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Why Alterra Matters It is yet another example of Dick DeVos' refusal to come clean with Michigan voters. DeVos wants you to believe the Alterra story is irrelevant to this campaign. But it is very relevant because it is an example of his refusal to come clean with the voters of Michigan. Why didn't DeVos disclose this investment when he had the chance? Now DeVos' team says that DeVos isn't in favor of the Governor's proposed disclosure laws. This is troubling. One of the reasons why DeVos may have avoided telling voters about his connection to Alterra is because of the allegations of abuse that took place at many of the chain's locations. DeVos said he had no control of the company, saying he had only a small fraction of the stock, but as legal experts have proved, DeVos did have significant control of company, and his closest business advisor became the company's chairperson. Why won't Dick DeVos just tell the truth? The Alterra story reinforces how much we still don't know about Dick DeVos. That lack of knowledge has made voters mistrust him. Dick DeVos continues to try to mislead Michigan voters about his family's control over the Alterra Healthcare Corporation. DeVos says he held less than 1% of the Alterra common stock but this is a red herring argument. While he did have the option to exercise shared control of about 40% of Alterra's common stock, the common stock is not where the DeVos family control of the company stemmed. The DeVos investment group held 91% of the shares of a special form of "Series A" stock. They did not have to exercise options for the Series A shares, but held them outright. To convince DeVos and his family to invest in Alterra, the company agreed to change its corporate management structure to allow the Series A shareholders (i.e. the DeVos investment group) to name 4 of the company's nine directors, and also changed the rules so that seven of the nine directors were required to approve any major corporate decision. Alterra appointed Jerry Tubergen, the DeVos family's right hand man and the manager of the family fortune, to become the company's chairman. A close associate of Betsy DeVos' family, Robert Haveman, became Alterra Vice-Chairman and later President. All of these facts are well documented in SEC reports, but the DeVos campaign is trying to pick and choose misleading facts in its spin efforts to say they were merely "passive investors" in something like a mutual fund. This is a blatant mischaracterization.

Little bit long on the Alterra thing, there, people, but OK. You're the pros.

Thanks again.