Thursday, August 31, 2006

Whitecaps - Maybin slams the Lugnuts
And this is the picture of the actual swing on that grand slam...


Kind of noisy- the light is gone this time of year at the night games. (low light= more noise on your digital camera)

Tonight is the last home game of the regular season, so I won't bore you political junkies with baseball stuff anymore pretty soon. Humor me for now.


COMSTOCK PARK – Cameron Maybin jump started the Whitecaps offense and became the first Whitecap ever to hit two grand slams in one season as West Michigan rolled past Lansing, 9-3.

Following a lead off single by Cory Middleton and back-to-back walks issued by Hector Delgadillo, Maybin poked the slam down the left field line to put West Michigan on top, 4-1 in the bottom of the third.

Maybin also hit a grand slam at Dayton on June 10. It was the fourth Whitecaps grand slam of the season.

Three Whitecaps hit sacrifice flies in the game: Middleton, Mike Hernandez and Will Rhymes as West Michigan moved to an 8-1 lead after six innings.

Matt O’Brien pitched seven innings as the starting pitcher for the ‘Caps and allowed just one run on eight hits and a walk to earn his second victory in three starts for West Michigan. Paul Hammond earned his first Midwest League save by retiring all four batters he faced to end the game.

Playoffs begin Sept. 7th. After that, they will be gone and I will be sad and then I will have to go back to yelling at the Republicans. Or the Lions. Whoever bugs me the most.
New ad from Granholm out today
Another low-key ad. Not sure what to make of these, to be honest. They do grab your attention due to the fact that they are low-key, not screaming at you like conventional advertising does. Is that what they are going for? I honestly don't know. The blue jacket works better than the black- and the voice is perfect. I think the Guv missed her calling as a DJ. ;-)

Zack has a YouTube version here; for whatever reason YouTube slows this blog way down so I can't post it. Check it out.

New ad from Stabenow out also, it's available here. It basically expands on the last one.

I have a new-found appreciation for Debbie Stabenow. She was just here in GR the other day to give a short pep-talk/rally for the local troops...



... and she came across as so... real. I can't put it any better than that. Most of the time politicians seem so guarded and scripted. I understand why they have to be that way, but still... it's nice to see them as normal human beings every once in awhile.

Stabenow will be on To The Point Sunday at 10am. Wasn't that nice of Rick to stick her on in the middle of Labor Day weekend? Fortunately they put it up on the 'net- you can catch the show anytime after it airs here.
Dick's Empty Building Revisited - Former Lear plant to create hundreds of jobs
Remember this gloomy shot from one of Dick's first commercials?



WALKER-- It's more than 700-thousand square feet on 42 acres. The massive facility along Walker's Alpine Avenue, once home to the Lear Automotive plant, is in line for a major facelift. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Wednesday, plans to loan the City of Walker one million dollars for cleanup and renovation. The city is contracting Blue Bridge Ventures and partners to do the work.

It already has one tenant...

The goal is to make the structure ready to house additional tenants to neighbor with the Amstore Company. Amstore produces retail store shelving and currently occupies 450 square feet of the old Lear Plant.

... and the cleanup will lead to hundreds of jobs as the rest of the building is sold off.

"This project will create between 500 and 1,000 industrial jobs," says DEQ Director Steven E. Chester during a tour of the Walker plant on Wednesday. "It's going to provide the kid of economic stimulus you are all hoping for in this area."

The new owner wants to divide the factory into smaller units and lease or sell the spaces to industrial companies.


It will revitalize the whole area, which really isn't in bad shape to begin with. Alpine Ave. to the north of the Lear plant is already packed with national name retailers and restaurants.

Once it's clean and occupied leaders believe the former Lear plant will anchor economic development all along Alpine Avenue.

They say it will be an economic stimulus on nearby under utilized land between Grand Rapids and Walker they call "Grand-Walk".

"If we can use this as a successful example of sustainable redevelopment then that is going to send a strong message to other people," says Rick Chapla of the Right Place, Inc.

"We'll make this site the anchor of economic revitalization and job creation in West Michigan," says Walker mayor Robert VerHeulen.

Moral of the story? Don't let doom-and-gloom Dick fool you.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lawmakers reach deal to fix consequence of minimum wage raise

But the Merit Award will have to wait because Craig DeRoche is a real sweetheart and wants to make it ever so much better for everyone involved.



Yeah. I'll bet. Sure would love to know what is going on with this- maybe Skubick will have the goods for me.



LANSING, Mich. -- Salespeople, truckers and other workers will remain ineligible for overtime pay when the state's minimum wage rises in October after lawmakers brokered a deal Wednesday that includes a tax credit for low-income workers and a lower minimum wage for teenagers.



The Republican-controlled Legislature unanimously approved parts of the legislation after finishing negotiations with Democrats and Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The Senate also voted 36-2 to increase the Merit Award college scholarship in hopes of boosting momentum for a compromise on that front by year's end.



The deal mostly maintains the status quo by keeping various workers exempt from overtime, though home health care and day care workers would now become eligible _ a request by Democrats.



Both Democrats and Republicans praised the bill allowing low-income workers to qualify for a state earned-income tax credit on top of the existing federal earned-income tax credit. The credit would start at 10 percent in 2008 and rise to 20 percent in 2009.



Granholm and House Democratic Leader Dianne Byrum of Onondaga said the tax credit is a victory for working families, and Senate Minority Leader Bob Emerson called it a tool to fight poverty.



"Michigan is not a high tax state for everyone, but we do tax poor people too much," said Emerson, D-Flint. "This bill is a major step in making our tax structure less regressive."



OK, good deal, especially if we let people know it's available and help them apply for it.



Back to the scholarship-


While the Merit Award bill isn't directly part of the deal, the Senate's vote signals it could be an important topic later this year.



The Merit Award now gives up to $3,000 spread over the first two years of college to students who perform well on state standardized tests in high school and middle school.



Under the plan, students who do well on the tests would get $1,000 for each of their first two years of college or technical training, then $2,000 more if they finish the two years. Those whose test scores aren't good enough to earn the money up front could still get the full $4,000 if they finish two years of higher education.



DeRoche said the House plan "is to go further" and at the same time make the plan affordable and funded for the long term for the state.



"We have some things to contribute," DeRoche said. "I think the governor and the Senate welcome those ideas, and we'll work together this fall."


Forgive me for not trusting Mr. DeRoche (ha ha), but this is quite the 180 from his previous statements. I need someone to define "fall" and "year's end" for me. Are we talking after the election? Just like the work on the SBT? Wait until after people vote and then tell them what we are going to do? Or does this need to be done by a certain time after the Senate passes it?



Peter Luke seems to think it's going to be later rather than sooner.



House Republicans, who are exploring a different way to expand the scholarship, may not take up the issue until after the November election

.

"I think we need to be putting more money into scholarships," Sikkema said. "The House is looking at something more expansive. That's why this is really a work in progress."



Unless I hear otherwise, it's going on the DeVos list of Stupid Legislator Tricks.

Michigan's Web site wins top award
Cool. I've always found it very easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing, too.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The official Web site of Michigan state government has been named the best state government Web portal in the country by the California-based Center for Digital Government.

The Center for Digital Government is recognized as a leading national research and advisory institute on information technology, according to the Michigan Department of Information Technology, which oversees state Web sites and state services and products offered over the Web.

"We set a goal to make state government more accessible for citizens and friendlier for businesses, and this award shows the great progress we have made," Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday in a news release.

The state's Web site, http://www.michigan.gov, offers access to government agencies and provides more than 200 interactive online services. It includes podcasts, foreign language translations and ways to get information through wireless portable devices.

Check out the Michigan Photo Gallery. All I need is this camera and I could do that too!

Kidding- but it would be nice. Gotta get back to my hobbies and get the politicians out of my head every once in awhile.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

DeVos blocking Merit Award Scholarship for political purposes?
According to Tim Skubick, "some theorize" that Dick DeVos is instructing Craig DeRoche to block the deal that would fix the minimum wage/overtime law and give college students $4000 for the Merit Scholarship just to deny Granholm a "win". If this is true, that means that DeVos is willing to hurt both business and college students for his own personal gain.

Given Dick and Betsy's past history of playing games with the legislature for the sole purpose of attempting to thwart Granholm, this would come as no surprise. They did it with SBT reform last year, they did it with welfare reform this year. The legislature is apparently intimidated enough by the DeVos' that they bow to their every wish; one wonders if their constituents ever factor into the equation.

For this latest attempt, let's go to the video tape.


Skubick: The fly in the ointment apparently is the Republican speaker, who is reluctant to make a deal. He says he's open to it, but hasn't signed off yet. Some theorize that the Republican candidate for Governor has told the Republican speaker to block the deal because it gives the Governor a win.

Granholm: You mean like he did on the SBT?

Skubick: Are you saying that he did on this? Governor? Hello?

Granholm: (walks away) No, I don't know.

Watch the clip for that interesting exchange.

Some back-story to set the stage. April 13th, when the flaw in the minimum wage bill was "discovered"-


Ari Adler, spokesman for Senate Republicans, said it's not certain that the new minimum wage law will require overtime pay for now-exempt workers. But he added, "If it's interpreted differently and it becomes an issue, then we'll look at addressing it."

House Republicans were aware of the bill's impact on overtime -- business groups quietly cautioned them -- but they decided to pass it quickly and deal later with fallout, said GOP spokesman Matt Resch.

Republicans knew the flaw was there, and ignored it in their haste to eliminate an issue that would drive people to the polls for a ballot proposal.

Granholm has been calling for a raise on the Merit Award Scholarship for quite some time. When it came up in June, Republicans had this to say-


"The governor's proposal is not acceptable and needs more discussion," Sikkema, R-Wyoming, said in a statement. "I'm willing to work with her on this, but we haven't made any progress because she has yet to find a way to pay for it or address the other problems."

Matt Resch, spokesman for Republican House Speaker Craig DeRoche of Novi, called the Granholm plan "irresponsible" because it is too expensive.

Giving kids more money for school? Irresponsible. But cutting $2 billion out of the budget without a way to "pay for it"? Not a problem.

Only in DeRoche Land does that make any sense.

A week later, Sikkema offered up the scholarship raise as a trade for cutting off the poor and an adjustment to teacher's health benefits.


Republican Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema said Wednesday he would consider approving Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's plan to give college students $4,000 scholarships if she would agree to a limit on welfare benefits and a change in health care plans for teachers.

No dice, obviously, and an insane proposition in the first place. Sikkema knew this wouldn't fly; why did he even bother?

By Aug. 10th, Ken was ready to "be bold" and cut a deal.


Bumping up college scholarships and offering an earned-income tax credit would hit the state budget, Sikkema said. But he added in a statement: "I am willing to put them forward because both have enormous potential. Let's be bold and move our state forward."

Sikkema is ready to go, DeRoche is holding up both money for college kids and a solution to a problem that he created in the first place.

The question is- is he doing it under orders from DeVos? Although Skubick presents this as a "theory", Dick's past behavior would indicate it is a very real possibility.

And, if this is true, then once again the lives of the people in this state are not a concern for DeVos or the Republicans. College students, business owners, and the poor are nothing but cannon fodder for those who would use them for their own egotistical power grabs rather than having consideration for the well-being of ordinary citizens and the progress of our state.
Judge rules anti-affirmative-action proposal can stay on ballot
It was proved that they committed fraud, but that's OK because you can vote against it later? Does that make any sense?

DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday allowed an anti-affirmative-action proposal to go before Michigan voters, rejecting arguments that it won a place on the November ballot through widespread, racially targeted fraud.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow, in a 34-page ruling, said opponents proved the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative "committed voter fraud in obtaining signatures in support of the petition." But they did not prove the MCRI violated the federal Voting Rights Act by depriving minorities of equal access to the political process, he said.

The MCRI seeks to ban race and gender preferences in government hiring and public-university admissions in Michigan. Lawyers representing the MCRI and state elections officials told Tarnow last month that Michigan residents would be harmed if they were not allowed to vote on the issue.

Opponents said the MCRI misrepresented the referendum's ultimate aims while petitioning to put the issue on the ballot. Witnesses told Tarnow they were tricked into signing or collecting signatures on petitions circulated by the MCRI.

Tarnow wrote that "voters who were induced by fraud into signing the petition still have an opportunity to participate in the political process by voting against the proposal in the general election."

I guess I can see where the judge is coming from on this specific law- but I think it proves that we need to tighten up the ballot proposal laws.
Strategic Vision Poll: Granholm 48 - DeVos 43
Polls, polls, polls. Always more polls. Check the phrasing on the question, identifying the party affiliation. Wonder if that had any bearing on the outcome.

If the election for Governor were held today, whom would you vote for Jennifer Granholm, the Democrat or Dick DeVos, the Republican?

Jennifer Granholm 48%
Dick DeVos 43%
Undecided 9%


Bush didn't fare too well (not a surprise), but the question that struck me most was this one-

Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's handling of the economy?

Approve 27%
Disapprove 60%
Undecided 13%

Bigger number than the disapproval on the war.

Scary numbers on the immigration issue-

Do you favor granting amnesty to illegal immigrants currently in the United States?

Yes 8%
No 81%
Undecided 11%

Do you favor building a wall along the southern border of the United States to prevent illegal immigration?

Yes 76%
No 12%
Undecided 12%

Rarely is the question asked: Are we safer?
Do you expect another terrorist attack within the United States in the next six months?

Yes 79%
No 5%
Undecided 16%

Well, then. Better go buy some duct tape.
Venture Michigan Fund - State venture capital to be put to work
Lookee here, the foundation to create more jobs.

A new, state-backed fund designed as a catalyst to attract more venture capital for growing young technology companies in Michigan has raised $200 million and is ready to start investing, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is to announce today.

The Venture Michigan Fund I, to be managed by Credit Suisse's Customized Fund Investment Group, won't invest directly in companies. Rather, it will invest in other venture capital funds that have a presence in Michigan and that target investments in Michigan-based start-up companies engaged in research, technology, and new product development.

Michigan has been a backwater for venture capital investing compared to VC hotbeds such as California and Massachusetts. As a result, promising research that begins at Michigan universities or companies often ends up being commercialized by entrepreneurs and companies that leave the state to follow the money.

Venture capitalists often like to have their pet projects located nearby.

To keep more smart people and promising young companies in-state, the enabling legislation for the Venture Michigan Fund requires any other VC fund that wants to draw on the Venture Michigan Fund to invest a big chunk of money in Michigan companies.

Investments will benefit a variety of emerging technologies targeted by the 21st Century Jobs Fund, including advanced manufacturing, alternative energy, health care and the life sciences, homeland security and information technology.

And while Granholm was working at something that will bring more jobs, DeVos was out mouthing the usual platitudes. From Lansing-

DeVos said if he's elected governor, companies such as Franchino Mold and Engineering will fare better in tough national and international competition.

"This company will find a better environment," he said. "What we can do is create an atmosphere in which it can succeed."

Dick never says exactly how he is going to do that, unless creating "an atmosphere" means driving down wages for American workers.

The next part of the story is crucial and goes right to the problem, a problem that Dick gladly helped create.


Franchino Mold and Engineering Vice President Dave Churchill said the company has streamlined in recent years, reducing employment from 135 to 85. He said the company faces challenges with rising health care costs, a skilled labor shortage and tough competition with China.

"We're competing against people in China who are making $10 a week," he said.

Bingo.

Dick knows all about creating jobs in China. He even got a big tax break to do so.

Did he tell that to the workers he spoke with yesterday? My guess is no. He'll just surprise them later with the new "atmosphere" of low wages and no benefits. After all, they can always get another job, right?

In Battle Creek, Dick was dodging more questions. He sure has the "politician speak" down.


As part of his four-day tour through Michigan after Saturday's state party convention, the Republican was in Battle Creek touting his run for governor and skirting the occasional question.

During an informal discussion, nursing home administrator Donna Mahoney asked DeVos about state money for the facility. Specifically, she wanted to know if DeVos would maintain its current funding level.

While DeVos praised the facility and its programs, he came short of saying dollars were guaranteed.

"We can only do as much as this state's economic growth can allow ... ," he said. "The issue facing us is to be able to get our economy moving so we can invest in these kinds of programs going forward."

Mahoney was hoping for a more direct reply.

"I would have liked him to say he would continue to honor the commitment," she said, referencing state dollars. "I didn't get exactly the direct answer I wanted."

Don't hold your breath waiting for direct answers from Dick. They will not be forthcoming.

And neither will the money for your programs, either. Ask Dick how he will replace the $2 billion that was just cut, you will probably get the same answer- "tax breaks first, trickle down later".

You seniors will just have to wait.

Monday, August 28, 2006

DeVos' Latest Ad Features Granholm Success Story
I should have known. Is there anything this man says that is actually true? Are we sure his name is really Dick? Someone might want to check on that...

LANSING -- Dick DeVos recently released the latest in his series of misleading television ads. The ad features Grand Rapids businessman Jim Zawacki, whose business is growing rapidly despite an uphill battle against the Bush Administration’s policies of unfair trade.

The DeVos ad script implies that Zawacki’s business is having trouble growing, but the truth is that Zawacki’s company has been expanding recently. On August 8, 2005, the Grand Rapids Business Journal reported that “Zawacki’s firm has grown by 100 people in the past year alone.”

The company’s future prospects are bright. On July 24, 2006, the Grand Rapids Business Journal reported that Zawacki’s Grand Rapids Spring and Stamping was granted a city industrial tax abatement worth an estimated $55,000 to invest $1.2 million in a new 1,000-ton Verson press. At the time, Zawacki said, “Our largest press used to be 600 tons, so this gives more tonnage and a bigger bed press so we can do bigger things.”

“I am surprised Jim Zawacki doesn’t want to do a television ad in support of Governor Granholm,” said Granholm Spokeperson Chris De Witt. “She is pleased that his business is expanding in Michigan, and she agrees with him that unfair trade is hurting our manufacturers’ competitiveness.”

The ad script blames the state bureaucracy and state tax system for Zawacki’s supposed inability to grow. Just a few months ago, however, Zawacki was singing a different tune. On April 18, 2006, he told National Public Radio’s All Things Considered that Chinese currency manipulation was preventing his company from growing past 400 employees. In that interview, Zawacki said, “I'm not smoking pot, nor have I ever, but the point is that we would easily be over 800 people.”

This wasn’t the first time Zawacki cited foreign trade as an impediment to the growth of his business. In May of 2005, Zawacki told the Grand Rapids Business Journal that his company was losing business to companies and China and Korea, saying “there are so many unfair things that are going on related to trade.”

This reminds me of a quote from a certain someone-

"Dishonesty can also be withholding information that is important to another, particularly if that information is required to make an informed decision. People who are not told the truth cannot make good decisions. In fact, they can be led to make incorrect conclusions."

-Dick DeVos, "Rediscovering American Values".

Apparently Dick was describing his future ad campaign and he didn't even know it. Or, maybe he did.
Conservatives not happy with DeVos
See Dick Run. See Dick Run away from the conservatives.

The word "conservative" is now a bit of a misnomer. They are regressive.


Gary Glenn, president of the Midland-based American Family Association, doesn't believe DeVos has done enough to motivate social conservatives, a key GOP constituency. DeVos is pro-life and opposes gay marriage.

"I think Dick still has some work to do to excite social conservatives about his candidacy," he said. "I trust at some point between now and November he will talk about the foundational values -- marriage and the protection of life."

He said social conservatives were more focused on ousting Granholm.

"I think there is more energy about removing Granholm than enthusiasm for electing Mr. DeVos," Glenn said.

Dick is trying to keep his base "in the closet", so to speak.

Ward Connerly, backer of the Affirmative Action/MCRI ballot proposal, isn't feeling the love, either.


California businessman Ward Connerly said Friday that Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos' opposition to a ballot proposal to end race- and gender-based affirmative action for Michigan government and schools has dried up potential contributions.

Speaking at a taping of the public television program "Off the Record," Connerly said, "People don't want to get on the bad side of Dick DeVos."

Connerly said potential GOP contributors to MCRI fear being on the outs with a DeVos administration if he is elected.

He said after the taping that Michigan is known to have a vindictive political climate, that those in power "don't forget who their enemies are."

DeVos is opposing the ballot proposal for political gain, Connerly said, because he doesn't want to energize Granholm voters. But he suggested DeVos personally supports MCRI.

Truscott denies this, of course, but given Dick's avoidance on other "conservative" issues, you don't have to go out of your way to believe that Ward might be telling the truth here.

The DeVos family financial support for the Radical Right has been spelled out in detail.


The DeVoses have supported such right-wing advocates as the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Council for National Policy and the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Michigan Right to Life.

The organizations promote conservative economic and social agendas: free trade and less government regulation, school choice including vouchers, the infusion of Christian beliefs into public life and opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

Now, why would Dick run away from all these people he so generously donated his money to in the past?

Dick is running away from his support of George Bush, too. Back in May, DeVos was asked if Bush would appear on his behalf- listen to the non-answer he gave.


But, last week on the DeVos bus tour, 24 Hour News 8 Political Reporter Rick Albin asked DeVos about perhaps the biggest name in the Republican arsenal.

"Do you think the President will come to the state on your behalf?" asked Albin.

"Any president, in my view, should always be welcomed in Michigan. That's not a political statement, that's just respect for the office," DeVos answered.

Not a ringing endorsement there, Dick, especially after you contributed over $600,000 to the man.

See Dick Run, indeed.

The MDP has a great video out called "See Dick Run" that sums up everything. Go watch. Makes me wonder why I bothered writing all this stuff down. ;-)
Democrats wrap up party nominations at convention
And a good time was had by all...

It came down to a fight on the floor in the race for attorney general and secretary of state at the Democratic state convention Sunday, but the battle was tepid as Grosse Pointe attorney Amos Williams and Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh easily won the nominations.

Williams will face Republican Attorney General Mike Cox, and Sabaugh will run against Republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.

Left in the dust after months of campaigning were Scott Bowen, a Grand Rapids attorney who has been running for the attorney general nomination for more than a year, and state Rep. Mary Waters of Detroit, who lost her bid for secretary of state, in part because of a very public spat with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The Bowen supporters had a very visual presence Saturday, but it looks like labor got behind Williams at the end.

The influential Labor Caucus set the nominations in motion Saturday when it got behind Williams and Sabaugh.

Although party officials would have preferred a settled ticket before the convention started Saturday, the floor fight kept delegates in their seats until the end of the two-day convention.

And the contested races didn't expose signs of weakness or divisions in the party, said Williams, a former Detroit police officer.

"We're all Democrats. We don't all have to think alike or march alike," he said. "We get to debate and jostle with each other, but when we leave this hall, we're all Democrats with one objective: to win in November."

And Bowen, who conceded defeat when it became clear that he was far short of victory, said the Democrats would stand united behind the entire ticket.

"Whatever happens today, I'll stand with you because Cox has got to go," he said.

Does this make my "Goin' with Bowen" t-shirt a collector's item? (hey- they were free. How could I resist.)

All along the roadside (very close to the highway) coming in to Detroit there were "Cox: Attorney General" signs. Is that even legal? Isn't that state property?

Cox, we might be able to take out. Terri Lynn Land will be a tougher battle.

Sabaugh emerged as a consensus candidate for secretary of state in the last few weeks. As Macomb County clerk for 14 years and Warren city clerk for 11 years before that, she said she was the better-qualified candidate.

"I know how to run elections, fair and open," she said. "I have a record of actions, not words. I know Terri Land and I can beat her."

Matt at Michigan Liberal has a great write up on Sabaugh here. Pretty impressive, but can she get the name recognition out there?

And once again- this election turns personal for me. Imagine my surprise to find one of my good friends from elementary school nominated for the MI Supreme Court.


DETROIT (AP) -- Democrats on Sunday nominated Grand Rapids attorney Jane Beckering for the Michigan Supreme Court.

Beckering, 41, is a partner in the Grand Rapids law firm of Buchanan & Beckering PLC, where she handles medical negligence cases.

She said she was surprised to be tapped to run for the state's highest court but has grown increasingly frustrated with the court's direction since former GOP Gov. John Engler filled four of the court's seven seats through appointments before leaving office in 2002.

"Ever since that time ... I have watched an erosion of the rights of Michigan people," Beckering said, adding that the court now favors the interests of big business and big insurance companies over the rights of individual plaintiffs.

The Michigan Trial Lawyers Association treasurer said she agreed to run when Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm "called on me to get off the sidelines and do something about it."

The Governor made an excellent choice. Jane is one of the smartest people I have ever known. We used to run with the "egghead" crowd when we were young- two of them went on to split the Valedictorian award for the Forest Hills Central Class of '83- and we were pretty good friends up until high school. At that point I set all the dials for "self-destruct" and joined the booze and rock-n-roll crowd; Jane went on to be a successful upstanding citizen. I always knew she would- some are destined for great things in life. That was Jane.

Jane was different from the other rich little brats that populated Forest Hills. She always had a sense of compassion for everyone- a heart of gold. She didn't act like she was "above" other people like the rest were so fond of doing. And funny. God, was she funny. We used to laugh quite a bit; she could always crack me up.

She will make an excellent judge.


The scales of justice need to be recalibrated," she told the more than 2,000 Democratic activists attending Sunday's state convention at Cobo Center.

Beckering is married to federal prosecutor Ray Beckering, who prosecutes health care fraud in the western district of Michigan. The couple has two daughters and a son. A native of Grand Rapids, she earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her law degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Congratulations Jane!

We now have the one of the best of FHC running for a position (Jane), and one of the worst of FHC running for a position (Dick).

One bought it, one earned it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Zogby/WSJ August Poll numbers- Granholm up 50-43
Nobody likes Zogby, but what the heck- here it is.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm continues to lead Republican challenger Dick DeVos, the Amway heir (I love how they put that), by seven percentage points. Her standing has improved markedly since polls conducted in the spring.

Stabenow doesn't fare as well, 49-45. Stunning difference from the last EPIC poll.

Incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow's lead narrowed for a third consecutive Zogby poll. She is now four percentage points ahead of Michael Bouchard, sheriff of Oakland County, north of Detroit. As recently as March, she led by 14 points.

Gotta admit, they have a nice interactive map. Whether or not their numbers are any good is up to debate.
Who Got The Gravy?: Bloggers and the MDP Convention, Day 1
Without a doubt the best write-up on the Blogger's Caucus and the happenings Saturday at the MDP convention. If you are interested in what all went down- here it is in detail.

Excellent job, Nirmal!
Granholm, DeVos fire off accusations as race begins
What's the difference? One is telling the truth, the other is lying.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm took sharp verbal shots at Republican challenger Dick DeVos on Saturday, calling him "a CEO who cut jobs in Michigan to invest in Asia."

In speeches to the Michigan Democratic Party convention at Cobo Center in Detroit, Granholm and others displayed a campaign theme of class division, characterizing DeVos as a wealthy, archconservative ex-Amway executive and friend of President George W. Bush who has shipped jobs to China.

"I am fighting for the things that everyday people of Michigan want and need," Granholm said. "My opponent has spent his time and a considerable part of his fortune fighting for things that hurt our citizens."

"You may not have a lobbyist with a fancy suit. But you know what? You don't need one. You have me."- Granholm, quite possibly the best line of the day.

It's about time the Democrats started calling this what it is- a war on the middle class, a war on the poor. While the median CEO pay increased 25% in 2005 to $17.9 million, the average worker has not seen an increase in the past five years. Corporate profits are soaring, and nothing is "trickling down".

Class division? You bet it is.

Republicans act all offended if you use that term. Why? They are stealing you blind.

At about the same time at the state Republican convention in Novi, DeVos was criticizing Granholm, saying she has offered excuses instead of leadership as the Michigan economy has continued to falter. He said it's time to make fundamental changes to the way government does business.

"I like Gov. Granholm. She's a nice person and a gifted communicator," he said. "But you have to judge a governor not on what they say, but on ... what they get done."

Here is a big list of the things she has "got done" right here. And MEDC has a monster list of jobs created here.

Where is Dick's list? DeVos left Alticor/Amway in 2002. He had a lot of free time to "create jobs", didn't he? What did he "get done"?

*crickets chirping*


DeVos brought the audience to its feet Saturday with a call to fix low-performing public schools, saying Detroit's schools send "more kids to prison cells and welfare rolls than ... to college classes." He pledged to get more resources into classrooms.

Wonder how DeVos is going to get "more money into classrooms" when he just engineered a $2 billion cut to funding. And the quote about "welfare and prison"? More dog whistle words for the Right, and it's a stepping stone to his quest for vouchers.

Granholm's comments marked the first time she has publicly linked DeVos with Amway, the corporation for which he served as president in the 1990s when it laid off workers in Michigan and expanded its overseas business in China and Japan

Finally the Press casually admits that fact.

DeVos displayed his arrogance during his speech- "apparently making an assumption about the outcome of a race not yet decided", according to Rick Albin. If you are a Republican and Albin calls you out, you probably have stepped over the line.

(Channel 8 has the video clip at that link, if they move it try the video page.)

The press is starting to draw the distinction between these two, and that is exactly what we need to have happen.

(A different version of this is cross-posted at Daily Kos.)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Welcome to the Machine: MDP Convention



Let's try some stream of consciousness writing here... I'm a bit tired and overwhelmed right now, so I'm just going to throw it all out there.

The Democrats. The Democrats want to give you lots and lots of paper. They have a flyer for everything, they also have programs and platforms and t-shirts and buttons and just all sorts of stuff. The cool thing was they give you a free MDP book bag to put it all in! Good thing, too, I could never carry all of that.

Got there early to help the Michigan Liberal team flyer the seats. Turns out I wasn't in the MDP database, (I thought I had joined at some point? oh well) so I had to register as a guest. No problem. Go right in.

Then came the sticker people. Everybody wanted to give you a sticker- the little 3" round ones that you can plaster all over your shirt, or something. I ended up plastering my free book bag. This encouraged the Stabenow people to put yet another sticker on me. Team Stabenow was everywhere. I think they all came in this trailer-



I guess when you are a Senator you get to drive the whole trailer right in the building, eh? Team Stabenow was definitely the most impressive presence in the place. Team Stabenow also wiped out all the sub shops within a half mile radius of Cobo Hall- both places we went to for lunch ran out of bread due to all the Team Stabenow people going out to lunch and beating us there. I went to complain to the Team Stabenow internet director when we came back, but she was out to lunch, too. ;-) Bloggers went hungry. Let's hope they don't take it out on Debbie.

Cobo. Never had been there before today. Without looking it up, I'm guessing 60's? With some renovations here and there? Whatever it is, the acoustics and lighting were terrible in the main hall- have pictures from the speeches of just about everyone, but they need some work with Photoshop.

Blogger caucus in the basement. That was cool. 1st ever, and I have a feeling it won't be the last, because it is our intention to destroy the mainstream media! (just kidding- good God don't take me so seriously. Who loves ya, Peter.)

We didn't get to talk much about blogging due to the cavalcade of politicians stopping by- first there was Senator Stabenow...



...and then Governor Granholm...



...Nancy Skinner and Jim Marcinkowski...



... and some others. Haven't had a chance to do their pictures yet. Don't worry David, I will get to you.

It was great to meet the bloggers- there are now faces on the names of all these people I have been reading for months. Very nice group of people. It's funny- because I have been babbling on to these folks since February, I didn't feel that usual shyness I get around new people.

Went upstairs for the main speeches- and they were excellent. Having a hard time remembering details right now - I'm going on hour 21 of being awake at this point.

All I know is-

Nobody, but nobody, beats this one.



Transcript and video here. (actually, the video isn't up as of this writing- but as soon as it is I am going to go watch it again.)

You must watch this; you will see why I carry on like I do. There will be no question in your mind who should be Governor of this state. (like there was in the first place?)

I'll link to some news stories tomorrow.

All in all, a very fun (and long) day.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Governor Granholm's Traveling Salvation Show: 2006 Convention Webcast
Live on your computer- QuickTime required. Follow the link for directions.





Just watch it. She will blow you away.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Charlevoix businessman calls on Republicans to back Granholm


Moderate backlash against the extremism in the Republican Party. It's about time.



LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm got a boost Thursday from a Charlevoix businessman who has started a group called Republicans for Granholm.




Gil Ziegler, 68, said he wants to see Republicans keep control of the state House and Senate and win other statewide offices. But when it comes to a choice between GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos and Granholm, he's voting Democratic.



"As an automotive supplier, no one needs to tell me that Michigan has taken some hard hits in its manufacturing economy," said Ziegler, who owns Alken-Ziegler, a privately held metal forming and machining company with offices in Kalkaska and Livonia, where Ziegler also has a home.



"Gov. Granholm has strategies in place to bring us through this difficult period, with a stronger and more diverse economy in the future," he added. Ziegler could list only a few adherents so far but thinks voter-rich Oakland County could be fertile territory for his group.


A businessman who "gets it".



On this next point, he might want to reconsider his support for our Republican led Michigan legislature.



Ziegler said he disagrees with Republicans in Washington and Lansing who oppose embryonic stem cell research and who have turned many social issues into political litmus tests.



"I'm going to disappoint some people in the Republican Party. But those are the extremists in our party who want to block stem cell research and who turned out of office a good man like U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz," Ziegler said. He was referring to the 7th District incumbent who lost the GOP primary earlier this month to Tim Walberg, who said Schwarz was too liberal.



DeVos opposes embryonic stem cell research, although he supports research on adult stem cells. Granholm has asked citizens to voice their support for lifting a ban on embryonic stem cell research in Michigan by signing an online petition.



Ziegler said he donated money to DeVos when he ran for the State Board of Education in 1990, but won't do the same this time.



Federal records show Ziegler donated $5,000 earlier this year to Its My Party Too PAC, a national group that wants to "return the Republican Party to the sensible center." He also has given to the Michigan Republican Party and was appointed by former GOP Gov. John Engler in 1992 to the Northern Michigan University Board of Control.


Where has Christine Whitman been, anyway?

DeVos admits he bought a defective product in George W. Bush, asks for money back


He actually used the campaign slogan "get it done" with the White House. Unbelievable.



Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos called on President George W. Bush on Wednesday to meet with U.S. auto industry leaders, saying the failure to set a date for the long-anticipated session is disrespectful and wrong.



DeVos, who has been a generous donor to Bush and the national GOP for years, said at a Lansing news conference it is "inexcusable" that the White House had not scheduled the meeting.


"Generous" is actually a bit of an understatement. Chris Christoff of the Free Press has a short breakdown here, and called the DeVos/Prince family donations "almost legendary".



And I would be derelict in my duties if I didn't pull out my all-time favorite Betsy DeVos quote at this point.



"I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party," Betsy DeVos wrote in an op-ed for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. "I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence. Now I simply concede the point. They are right. We do expect some things in return."


Back In June, Dick offered to "make a call" to his employees friends in the WH.



Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos "has talked to all the automakers and offered to make a call to get the meeting set up," said his spokesman John Truscott.


Leave a message, Dick, we'll get back to you.



White House spokesman Tony Snow said last week the proposed meeting between the president and the carmakers has been "swamped by events" on several occasions but will occur. No date is set, he said.



"This isn't about politics," DeVos said Wednesday. "It's about people's jobs. The White House needs to step up and make it happen."



The context of the announcement, however, was intensely political.



Criticism of Bush's economic policies, especially those related to Detroit-based automakers, has been a central theme of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's campaign. She accuses Republicans of neglecting the needs of domestic manufacturers and claims that DeVos would follow in lockstep with the president and national GOP leaders.



Wednesday's announcement was clearly an attempt by DeVos to create some daylight between himself and the president.


The DeVos family has purchased the Republican Party, damnit, and when they say "jump", the White House had better say "how high?" Dick proceeded to pitch a fit reminiscent of the petulant child that he is now trying to order around.



"When I am governor, things will be different," he said. "I won't ask for a meeting, I will tell them we are having a meeting. It is sad that our governor cannot make a meeting happen. This is just incompetence all around."


The wanna-be King is not pleased. The subjects have disappointed him.



"This has just been a continued refusal. I've heard the meeting's scheduled and it's not scheduled, it's on and it's off," he said. "Finally, I just said 'This has been enough. The White House needs to step up and get it done.'


Did you say that, Dick? And who are you, again, exactly? What position of power do you hold? Oh yeah, you gave them all that money.



Well, if this does happen now, it will just prove that you are REAL CLOSE to GEORGE W. BUSH. Congratulations. Sounds like a wise political move. Keep it up.



Team Granholm was ready once again with the rapid response. Go get 'em, Chris.



"DeVos caused this problem. Instead of following the Governor’s lead, he should be apologizing to laid-off Michigan workers for lobbying for the policies that hurt them and the auto companies in the first place, costing more than 200,000 citizens their jobs. Dick DeVos was the largest contributor to Bush-Cheney 2004, but in front of the cameras he’s happy to sing a different tune. This time he’s not lying about the Governor’s record, he’s lying about his own. Governor Granholm has fought for our workers, repeatedly called on President Bush to meet with U.S. automakers and to take action to halt unfair trade practices."


The "L" word. It goes hand-in-hand with the GOP nowadays, doesn't it?



They found a great article from '93.



The U.S. auto industry should "stop crabbing" about foreign competition and start doing practical things to market their cars abroad, the president of Amway Corp. said Wednesday.



The Asian market is not difficult to break into, said Dick DeVos, Amway president, in an appearance before a group of Forest Hills senior citizens. Audience members asked what advice he would offer to U.S. companies seeking to expand abroad.



DeVos said U.S. automakers "should stop crying and do something about (their lack of market share). I'm not very sympathetic with the auto industry because some of their problems are self-inflicted."


Well, Dick, it appears some of your problems are "self-inflicted", too. You should stop crying about it. I'm not very sympathetic to you, either. Matter of fact, I don't see how you can be trusted to make the right decisions- after all, you did buy George W. Bush.



EDIT: The Disembodied Head of Dick DeVos agrees. Do what the head sez!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Granholm ahead by a touchdown, 49-42
See what happens when I try to avoid Rick Albin? I miss the exciting poll news!

Watch Rick chew nails here. It was quite a stretch for him to put a Republican spin on this, but he managed to do it.


GRAND RAPIDS -- A statewide poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday of 600 Michigan voters shows Governor Jennifer Granholm and Senator Debbie Stabenow opening larger leads over their Republican challengers.

The EPIC-MRA poll, conducted for 24 Hour News 8 and our media partners, revealed a seven-point lead for Granholm over her Republican challenger Dick Devos. Granholm is supported by 49%, DeVos 42% and Libertarian Greg Creswell 3%.

Stabenow is cruising.

Stabenow has a 13-point advantage, 51--38, over Mike Bouchard for the six-year Senate term. Libertarian Leonard Schwartz at 2%.


WOOD once again gives the whole demographic breakdown here. They seem about the same as last time; I'm beginning to believe that only people over 40 answer the phone.
Breaking: Script for new DeVos attack ad found in Grand Rapids!

The MDP reports that Dick DeVos has dropped a cool million on the two new attacks ads that debuted last week. After complaints arose that the "man on the street" ad was not specific enough, a source inside the DeVos campaign leaked a rough draft of a new attack ad that goes into more detail. Although the actors have not been lined up yet, rumor has it that pre-production has begun on a sound stage at Alticor somewhere in the city of Grand Rapids.

Voice:

Woman: "When Jennifer Granholm took office, I thought she said she would buy us all a pony. Now, 3 ½ years later, still no pony. My child has to ride the dog around the yard".

Couple No. 1: "We were real disappointed that Jennifer Granholm didn't come over and repaint the house. What good is a public servant if they don't actually, you know, serve? And the weeds are getting kind of high, too."

Man No. 1: "I had to sell off my wife's speed boat just to pay off the mortgage on the lakefront cottage, and now I can't buy my second Ducati. Jennifer Granholm is obviously trying to put me out on the street."

Man no. 2: "I was told that Governor Granholm could sing and dance, and was going to write the great American novel. I still haven't seen a DVD and the bookstore doesn't have a release date. And what about that world hunger thing?"

Couple No. 2: "Weren't there supposed to be miracles? We were promised miracles. Jennifer Granholm can't even walk on water. What good is a Governor that can't walk on water? And Michigan still has too much snow."

Closing graphics:

Jennifer Granholm.

No ponies. Can't control the weather. And she won't paint your house, either.

Paid for by the Republicans with Unrealistic Expectations (RUE), Grand Rapids, MI. Copyright 2006.



This has been a test of the Emergency Snark Response System. Had this been an actual snark emergency, you would have been instructed to tune to your local TV station where you would see the actual "man on the street" commercial running every 15 minutes until you realize that this guy is jerking your emotions and you should start making fun of him like I do.
Kilpatrick to host party faithful for Granholm rally
Will this put an end to the rumors? My guess is no. But one can hope.

A week after he was publicly accused of striking a secret deal to support the Republican Party in November's election, Detroit's Democratic Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will host a phalanx of political, labor and church leaders for a rally Thursday to support Gov. Jennifer Granholm's re-election bid.

The rally, at 2 p.m. in Campus Martius, is a prelude to the party's convention set to begin Saturday in Detroit, when the state's Democratic leaders and delegates converge on Cobo Center to nominate the candidates for November's statewide races.

"The mayor is happy to host this joint endorsement of Governor Granholm's campaign and the Democratic ticket," said mayoral spokesman Matt Allen. "This is the start of the drive here in Detroit for Governor Granholm's re-election."

For Democrats, it's crucial that they show a united front going into this year's nomination convention.

"What we really want to do is highlight the governor and our U.S. senator, and we can't do that if you're writing about the other spats that are going on," said Lansing-based political consultant Ken Brock.

Rifts among party leaders in Detroit erupted last week when state Rep. Mary Waters, D-Detroit, accused Kilpatrick of sabotaging her efforts to become the Democratic nominee for secretary of state in an effort to strengthen the Republican Party's chances of winning in November. State party leaders rejected her accusations.

The feud between the mayor's supporters and opponents remains an open sore that could threaten efforts by Democrats to deliver a large voter turnout in Detroit, which the party needs to ensure victory in November.

I know nothing of Detroit politics- and I don't think I want to. All I know is they better realize which side of the bread is buttered here- and it ain't the Republican side. DeVos will be funneling all the bucks to his West Michigan buddies. I can almost guarantee it. West Michigan Republicans blame Detroit for all our problems, and they are going to expect a big payoff if Dick becomes King.

Wake up, Detroit.

The bigger fight comes in the form of the Attorney General nomination.


In a debate aired Tuesday on WCHB-AM (1200), the candidates -- attorneys Scott Bowen, a former district judge from Grand Rapids, and Amos Williams, a former Detroit police officer from Grosse Pointe -- said they were unwilling to withdraw their candidacy, even though party officials said they hope for a settled ticket before the state convention.

"A floor fight is a good thing. This Democratic Party needs a dose of adrenaline," said Bowen, who started making automated phone calls this week, seeking support from delegates.

Williams said he is making personal contacts with delegates, raising money "and getting ready for a war on the floor."

And the war might get nasty.

Although he didn't mention Kilpatrick by name during the debate, Bowen said no one should be off limits when it comes to investigations of public corruption.

"We need an attorney general who will investigate the hard cases, and I think you know what I'm talking about," Bowen told the audience of about 50 people at the International Center in Greektown.

I have no strong feelings either way on these two guys, so I am just going to sit back and watch them duke it out.

Looks like I snagged a car to go to this thing. I won't be "live blogging"- I don't have a laptop, and I'm not really sure of the value of live blogging anyway, especially on a Saturday when traffic on the 'net is quite low. Unless you are some kind of closed-captioning typist (and I'm not), it is impossible to keep up with the speeches. Streaming video is a much better way to go- not sure if anyone is going to try that.

Going to try to take some pics- but that really depends on the lighting. If it's a low lighting situation my camera won't be able to handle it. Don't want to be popping off the flash all the time.

Not being a party activist, I almost feel like an outsider here. That might make me a better observer though. With no basis of experience, I won't be clouded by expectations.

We will see.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Upjohn study: SBT must be replaced

Peter Luke has a column out today that addresses the issue of the SBT and looks at the implications of not replacing the funding.



LANSING -- There's no free lunch when it comes to cutting business taxes in Michigan, and if the price tag requires slicing school and road funding, the state's economy would be worse off, according to a new analysis.



Timothy Bartik, senior economist for the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, said Monday that Michigan's economy is in a deep rut because of the Michigan-based domestic auto industry's declining market share -- not because business taxes are too high. The institute is a nonpartisan economic policy group based in Kalamazoo.



While Republicans have seized on this summer's December 2007 repeal of the Single Business Tax as a way to move the state in a different direction, any tax savings to business would do more harm than good if lost tax revenue isn't replaced, Bartik said.



Upjohn is a non-partisan, non-profit agency that conducts research "into the cause and effects of unemployment and measures for the alleviation of unemployment". According to Tom Walsh in the DFP- they insist on publishing the full study, not just what the client wants to hear.



Bartik said the institute is nonpartisan, does not do proprietary research for clients and insists on publishing the results of all its work, even if the group funding the study disagrees with the outcome.



The report was financed equally between MEDC and Upjohn.



Looking to the Republican response- they cite a report from Patrick Anderson of the Anderson Economic Group.



Another study by Lansing economist Patrick Anderson for House Republicans insists that Michigan has to lower its tax burden to be a Top 10-state economically. Anderson's study said achieving that ranking, putting Michigan in line with high-growth states like Virginia and North Carolina, would require $2 billion in state and local business tax cuts.



How very convenient that eliminating the SBT would equal $2 billion dollars!



Mr. Anderson can hardly be considered a "non-partisan source". He is cited whenever the Republicans need an "expert" to back their slash and burn policies. Here is his biography at the Mackinac Center, his web pagewhen ran for the UM Board of Regents (endorsed by Right to Life and the Citizens for Traditional Values), and it seems he is available as a paid expert for your litigation needs.



We have a study being cited by Republicans that says $2 billion must go, but on the other hand we have DeVos saying he would replace a "majority" of the SBT revenue.



Which is it? DeVos won't say. From June-



Q . When you talk about restoring a majority of the tax, what are you talking about? Seventy, 80 percent of the revenue?



A . I haven't quantified that. I'm not going to get pinned down on a number.



Of course not. He won't release a plan until after the election. Act in haste, repent in leisure- but I doubt Dick would ever repent.



He also misrepresents Granholm's work on the SBT.



Q . Help us here then. Write the headline for us on the heart of this plan.



A . Eliminate the Single Business Tax.



Q . And ?



A . We'll deal with that. Let's eliminate it first. The governor has been governor for three and a half years and has yet to put a plan on the table to do anything.



Wrong. Either Dick is lying or he wasn't paying attention. Granholm released the "most sweeping restructuring of the SBT since its inception 30 years ago" back in March of 2005. We all know what happened to that. It was rejected because someone needed a campaign issue.



So, at this point, the Republican non-plan for the SBT varies from "eliminate it all" to "replace the majority". Doesn't quite instill confidence in business that wants to locate or expand here, does it?



The study concludes that high taxes are not to blame for Michigan's sluggish growth- the two ton giant that is the auto industry and those who depend on it are.



Bartik said Michigan is competitive on taxes, but is suffering economically because of its reliance on an auto industry undergoing painful restructuring. In a normal economic cycle, Michigan's economy should be proceeding along the same national pace.



Each of the tens of thousands of auto jobs lost since 2000, he said, means the loss of four other jobs throughout the Michigan economy as the result of a "rippling" effect.



At this point, any gains that we make can be wiped out in a second by the auto manufacturers. All the more reason to diversify our economy so we aren't at the mercy of one industry.



Tom Walsh has a succinct summary of the Upjohn study.



In the short-term, ride out the restructuring period in the domestic auto industry.



In the medium run, some business tax reforms that lower the tax on new investment without cutting key public services could be helpful.



And in the long run, that study said, Michigan must increase the skills of its workforce. That means boosting education attainment and making the state a more attractive place for college graduates to work.


We have no choice but to ride out the auto industry. Hang on tight.



Business tax reforms were stalled so DeVos could have an issue, hurting new investment by lowering our credit rating and putting new development in limbo. If not for the Republicans, they would have been completed last November.



And as far as education, Granholm has made that a key plank in her policy- increasing money for schools in next year's budget, increasing money for the Merit Scholarship, raising graduation requirements, and setting a goal of increasing the number of college graduates in Michigan.



I think we have discovered who has the better plan for Michigan. Quality of life and responsible fiscal policy are the keys to our future success.



DeVos and the Republicans offer neither.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Michigan Liberal :: Blogger Caucus at the MDP Convention
This is cool.

Are you going to the MDP convention in Detroit this weekend? It's free and open to all. Here's one more reason to go - you're invited to the first ever MI blogger's caucus! Meet fellow bloggers face-to-face, and discuss blogging, the 2006 elections, and how we can work together to grow the Michigan blogosphere.

Our caucus will take place on Saturday from 10am to noon, in room D01-A. It all came together too late for the printed agenda, but there will hopefully be signs at the convention.

Thanks to Matt, Jon Koller and LiberalLucy from Michlib, emptywheel from The Next Hurrah, Rayne from many blogs, and Clint from the Granholm campaign for helping to make this happen.

How you can help, is first to spread the word - email anybody you can think of who should know about it. Second, if you want to help with the planning please comment here or drop one of us an email. And third, be there on Saturday.

Also - there will be a "bloggers row" on the convention floor, so don't forget to bring your laptop for live-blogging at Cobo.

Wish I could be there- but to take pictures, not blog. Kind of tells you where my heart really is. Sitting here wondering about the lighting at Cobo, not the wireless connection... besides, I don't have a laptop anyway. And I can't get to Detroit.

Rumor has it that some candidates might stop by this little shindig- that would be a very good idea on their part. This is small media, but it is media. Nothing like a little free publicity from schmoozing with the bloggers.

And Laura- if you're reading this- you totally rock. The Democratic Party is blessed to have you.
Michigan gas prices down 24 cents over last 2 weeks
Must be the Governor's commercial worked! ;-)

DETROIT (AP) — The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the state is down 24 cents per gallon over the past two weeks, AAA Michigan said Monday.

The statewide average for regular unleaded is $2.88, which is 17.5 cents per gallon more than this time last year.

The Traverse City area has the most expensive gasoline of Michigan's metropolitan areas at $3 per gallon, the auto club said.

I just paid $2.86 mid-grade ($2.76 reg, and GR is usually one of the more expensive markets in the state). Like my Dad recently said, "Now all we have to do is shut down the other half of Prudhoe Bay and we will be down to $2."

What in the world is going on here?
TOM WALSH: Eliminating Single Business Tax helps little, study says
Really? Someone get DeVos on the phone. He needs to hear this.

Michigan's recent economic funk is almost entirely a function of the poor health of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and large automotive suppliers closely linked to them.

Michigan's key tax rates are slightly below the national average.

And while the state Legislature's recent abolition of the Single Business Tax could provide a small economic boost, it would be a very small one, closing only one-ninth of the employment growth gap between Michigan and the U.S. economy as a whole.

These are the key conclusions of a study being released today. It was conducted by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the state's agency for business attraction and retention.

James Epolito, president of the development corporation, said he wanted an unbiased study of how competitive Michigan is against other states and he considered the Upjohn Institute a "middle-of-the-road" research outfit without a right- or left-leaning ideology. Bartik said the institute is nonpartisan, does not do proprietary research for clients and insists on publishing the results of all its work, even if the group funding the study disagrees with the outcome.

In this case, Gov. Jennifer Granholm probably will take satisfaction from the Upjohn study's conclusion that the Legislature's move to kill the Single Business Tax at the end of 2007 -- with no replacement tax identified yet for $1.9-billion in annual lost revenue -- won't help Michigan's economy much. "Businesses like good roads and education too," Bartik said, so the appeal the tax cut will hold for businesses would diminish if important services are gutted.

-snip-

But from 2000-05, Michigan employment fell nearly 1.3% a year on average, while the United States as a whole was enjoying modest job growth of 0.35% annually. The emergence of that gap between the Michigan and national economies coincided with the declining market shares of GM and Ford in a fiercely competitive U.S. market in which Toyota, Honda and Nissan expanded their truck and SUV offerings and Korea's Hyundai emerged as a major player.

The Upjohn study concluded that it's "unlikely that Michigan's recent slow growth is primarily due to allegedly excessive business taxes or inadequate job skills. The slow growth of autos in Michigan is probably due to national and international trends, not to the state of Michigan's policy choices.

I doubt a little thing like facts will get in the way of Dick and the Destroyers. I'm sure they will dismiss this study outright and continue telling us that eliminating the SBT will solve everything- after all, being devoid of any real ideas or plans, they have nothing else to say.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Whitecaps - Big innings lift Lansing


Sean Shoffit slides into third with a bases-clearing triple. Booooo....

COMSTOCK PARK – With a five-run fourth and a three runs in the seventh Lansing won its second game in a row, 9-3 over the Whitecaps. Matt O’Brien took the loss in his Whitecaps debut.

Sean Shoffit delivered five RBI for the Lugnuts and had a three run triple in the fourth.

After Lansing took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third, Cameron Maybin tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning.

The Lugnuts grabbed a 6-1 lead in the fourth, but Jeramy Laster hit a two-run homer following a two-out triple by Mike Hollimon in the sixth to pull the ‘Caps within three at 6-3.

But Lansing came back with a three-run rally in the top of the seventh that featured a two-run single by Shoffit.

Matt O’Brien gave up six runs (5 ER) on seven hits and three walks as the starting pitcher in his Whitecaps debut. Casey McKenzie pitched 5.2 innings for the Lugnuts and allowed all three Whitecaps runs but earned the victory.



'Caps sing the anthem. Things went downhill from there.


We believe that Corey was attempting a bunt (with two strikes even), but we're not really sure. Whatever it was, we hope he doesn't try it again.

Still, it was a great day to be at a game...
Meta Kitten:



Indulge me for a second. I don't know what is going on here- but the hits on this site have really jumped (relatively speaking) in the past 10 days, and I can't quite figure out why. Must be the campaign season heating up and the fact that this has turned into a Michigancentric blog, as evidenced by the map above.

If this is happening here, I can't imagine what is happening at Michigan Liberal. If you want to join in the conversation, make sure you stop by over there- they cover more topics than I do and the system is set up for easy commenting. As you know, Blogger leaves a lot to be desired in that area- Scoop/SoapBlox systems are the way to go.

Whatever the reason for all the traffic- I just wanted to say "thanks" to all of you for stopping by, glad you're taking the time to read, and I hope that you take what you see here and spread the word to your family and friends. Or, start your own blog. Yeah, it's a bit narcissistic- but it's a great way to communicate. You, too, can have everyone in Lansing hanging on to your every utterance. ;-)

(Note to our esteemed legislature: I see you. Now get back to work.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Media takes note of DeVos mudslinging in Honda attack ad
Is this the awakening of that sleeping giant we call the fourth estate? Between Skubick's editorial yesterday and this piece from Kathy Barks Hoffman, there is a glimmer of hope that the press is waking up to the DeVos campaign's fabrications and obfuscations and isn't amused anymore.

Apparently this ad is causing quite a stir.


LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A new ad launched Friday by GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos criticizes Gov. Jennifer Granholm for "being left out of the game" when it came to pursuing a new Honda plant.

Honda Motor Co. announced in late June that it would be building its $550 million assembly plant in Greensburg, Ind. DeVos said then that Granholm should have visited Honda Motor Co. during her trade mission to Japan in May.

"I probably would have found time to visit Honda," he told a group of business leaders in Detroit.

"Probably"? Truth is, DeVos probably could not have met with them. According to the Granholm campaign quoting an AP article- the "company does not look favorably on meetings with Governors in the latter stages of their decision making process". DeVos didn't even know the protocol. Not a good sign.

The Granholm entourage did visit Honda in May.

Although Granholm didn't meet personally with Honda officials on that trade trip, she said she and her aides worked hard to land the Honda project.

"I met with them one year ago, and we also presented them a proposal - my team did - when they were in Japan" in May, she said earlier this summer. She added that 2005 and 2006 trips to Japan resulted in 22 companies promising to bring over 1,000 jobs and $240 million in investment to Michigan.


Hoffman points out that, once again, Dick is using images that are false, just as he did with the Grand Rapids ad (pictures from the 60's/70's) and his very first ad showing empty buildings that weren't really all that empty. Artistic license? Not when it is done repeatedly. At that point, it becomes part of the overall attempt at deception.

The DeVos ad shows footage of a backhoe surrounded by debris as a building is being torn down. But it doesn't disclose that the building is a GM assembly plant in Lansing that included parts more than 100 years old.

GM replaced that plant with a state-of-the-art assembly plant in nearby Delta Township. The plant will make the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave crossover vehicles starting later this year.


The article goes on to say that the claims stated in the ad about the Honda deal are not true.

In the DeVos ad, an announcer says, "The press reports Indiana's governor pursued Honda for a year, while Gov. Granholm was blindsided - only got interested 'at the 11th hour.'"

But Michigan was among five states - Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois - that vied for the plant and its 2,000 jobs after Honda announced in May it would build a plant in the Midwest.

Auto analyst David Cole said only Indiana and Ohio were seriously in contention for the Honda project, which the company said it wanted to put in the upper Midwest. Honda has assembly plants in Marysville and East Liberty, Ohio, and many nearby suppliers.

"I don't think Michigan was ever in the running," said Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.


And once again, DeVos distorts what the press has said- just as he did with his first attack ad on Granholm that both the Detroit Free Press and Lansing State Journal immediately objected to.

The New York Times article the ad cites said that the governor "was criticized last month when Michigan did not actively compete for a Honda plant that will be built in Indiana," but the article did not level that criticism itself.


No, that criticism came from DeVos and other Republicans, and what he essentially did was put those words into the mouth of the New York Times.

Maybe we will see an editorial from the Times next.

This new ad has given John Truscott a chance to spew some of the standard talking points and toss out a few more misdirections. Can this guy ever answer a straight question?


"Time and time again, there is evidence that we have missed opportunities and our families have had to pay the price," he said in a statement. "Michigan's unemployment rate is at 7 percent. ... Michigan is second in the nation for out-of-state moves. The list goes on and on. Something must change."


"Time and time again"? Does Truscott have proof of that? And, even if he can "name names"- since DeVos is obviously lying about Honda, will he then lie about any of the so-called other "missed opportunities"? As far as the 7 percent rate- that was due to standard auto plant shutdowns that happen every July.

John dodges the obvious question- why is DeVos slinging mud when he just ran two ads saying that he would stay out of the mud? Doesn't that make Dick... oh, what's the word... a hypocrite?


Asked why DeVos decided to go negative after saying in a recent ad that slinging mud doesn't help bring jobs to the state, Truscott said: "The mood of the public is negative. The Michigan economy is negative. A lot of bad stuff is going on out there, and this governor doesn't recognize it."


Maybe John can't hear very well. That wasn't the question, and that certainly wasn't an answer to the question, but it gives them a chance to advance their completely negative view of our state. It's no wonder no one wants to come here with ads like this running all the time. Why does Dick DeVos hate Michigan?

John also fails to mention the mood of the whole country is negative, but again this was only a deflection and an attempt to bounce it all back on Granholm. The fact is that the DeVos campaign is the one being negative, and has been negative about our state from the beginning.

Brewer comes right out and says this ad is a lie.


"DeVos already had the record for the most money spent on a Michigan gubernatorial campaign, but now it looks like he will have the record for the most negative attack ads," said Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer. "The DeVos ad about Honda is an outright lie."

And the Granholm team was ready- and has an amazing page knocking down every point in the ad.

The ad is a lie. Governor Granholm met with Honda and made an effort to get them to come to Michigan. The DeVos campaign has gone negative and is fabricating a story for this attack.


The media is finally noticing the inconsistencies in Dick's rhetoric and advertising. That is crucial- campaigns will say what they say- but when the press calls it out, people will take note.

The question is: How can anyone trust DeVos after all of this?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tim Skubick: Enough excuses from DeVos
How many times has DeVos used the excuse, "we don't have the information", or, "we need to look at other states" as a dodge for not revealing his plans?

Skubick calls him out on the SBT, but he has used this slippery denial on more than just this one issue. Anytime Dick doesn't want to answer a question, you get some variation of the same 'ol song and dance.


With money to spare you would think somebody in the DeVos camp could scrap together 50 cents to call the state treasurer.

Treasurer Bob Klein is standing by to take that call.

But the DeVos folks apparently don't want to talk with Klein because it may serve their own political agenda to keep him on hold until after the election.

So what's going on?

When the DeVos team issued its Turnaround Plan, reporters wanted to know how they would pay for the elimination of the Single Business Tax.

The essence of the response was, Golly gee whiz, we can't respond because the Granholm administration won't give us the tax revenue data we need to draft one.

At the time it seemed like a plausible excuse.

No, it didn't. This has been talked about for well over two years now, you can't tell me that the information isn't out there.

DeVos aides even salted that notion by reporting that the GOP House Speaker couldn't get his mud hooks on the data either despite his warm and fuzzy working relationship with the governor. Right.

DeVos media mouthpiece John Truscott hammered home the point again after the GOP legislature wiped out the unpopular SBT on August 8th. He told an unsuspecting Detroit newspaper that the DeVos folks couldn't play the SBT replacement game because they didn't have the details from the state.

Once again, DeVos isn't telling the truth. Anyone surprised?

"I have not been sitting on it. They never asked," explains Mr. Klein for the first time.

Would you give it to them, if they did ask?

"I would," he matter-of-factly asserts.

In fact, Klein fired off a 55-page memo to the aforementioned Speaker Craig DeRoche with all the tax data one would ever need to draft a replacement for the SBT. And on top of that, while DeVos and company were crying crocodile tears over their inability to figure out their tax policies, yet another GOP source had the numbers since last June!


And the ultimate truth-
From this corner it looks like they are not excited about doing that. If they got the data, there would be no more excuse for not drafting an SBT replacement program. Such a plan might result in somebody paying more taxes and those folks could turnaround and vote against DeVos for doing that.


And another ultimate truth- someone is going to end up paying more. If the Republicans have their way, it will be you.

But before the Granholm gang reaches for some quotes from this column to attack their opponent, they, too, should look in the mirror.

They've had the tax data from the get-go. They used it a year ago to draft their first plan to overhaul the state's business tax. And even though the GOP legislature rejected it, the governor continues to boast that she has a plan and she's sticking with it because she doesn't want to hack anyone off either.


She did hack someone off, that being DeRoche and his buddies in Big Insurance, and probably a few others, too, but I didn't see any compromise plan put forth from the Republicans. This probably could have been settled with a little give and take, but remember- someone needed the campaign issue.

And now look at all the time we have wasted, and all the time DeVos continues to waste with his stall tactics. Gee, for someone who runs around saying, "Git it done", he is not in any hurry to actually get anything done.

Not that he will tell you about anyway. That will come after. When it's too late to change your mind.