Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sound Off! - Tell the Michigan Legislature your thoughts!

OK Michigan, step right up, it's time to tell the Legislature YOUR thoughts on the budget crisis! Here is your chance to be heard!

The fine folks at want you to watch this video...

... and then record your thoughts and post them to YouTube. Go to this page for instructions on how to upload your videos!

If you don't have a video camera, be sure and join The Conversation over on their site. Let's send a message to those lawmakers!

One word of caution- be nice. The legislators ARE watching this stuff, and sometimes they swing back. I should know.

I have yelled so much about this all year that I have been reduced to writing "Bite Me" in crayon and sending it to Lansing. They don't like that. They write "Bite Yourself" and send it back. So, be thoughtful in your message, but be sure and tell them how you feel!

I'm tapped out here- now it's YOUR turn to pitch in! And while you are there, check out the campaign to lower Michigan tuition rates- it's very important to the future of our state that people be able to afford college. has ideas on how you can help.

What are you waiting for? Grab those cameras and go!

Sen. Mickey Switalski on Early Retirements for State Workers

The Senate just took a party line vote on early retirements- and Sen. Switlaski has something to say about it.

Check the video- 

"The fact that they moved the whole thing in one day, from start to finish, no committee meetings, nothing, indicates that they realize the thing has really basic flaws, and I don't think it will survive in the House.

So, I think it maybe is more of a political statement that they want to make a cut. Well, if you want to make a cut, let's see the real cut".

Senate Republicans are back to their old tricks- passing rush job bills so they can crow to the press that they are "saving money".

Problem is, it doesn't save money. It costs more to the state and puts citizens in danger at the same time. Watch the video, Switalski lays it all out for us, complete with the numbers.

Senate Republicans are wasting your time and money. Instead of real reform, they want to destroy the government. This bill just proves it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Coming this Fall to BFM : Everybody Loves Leon!

Join us for the new Fall season when we feature the wild adventures of Leon Drolet and his wacky pet pig Mr. Perks as they travel across Michigan, spreading laughter and promoting harmony amongst once bitter enemies! Watch as Leon unites the legislators to save us all from the clutches of the Evil Dr. Norquist!

In the season premiere episode, Leon and Mr. Perks hijinks ruffle the feathers of some stodgy Republicans, tricking them into saying things they would rather not say. Fun for the whole family!

Co-starring Matt Marsden as the "Boy Next Door"...

But ultimately, in a slap at Mr. Drolet, he said, Senate Republicans would do "what is in the best interest of the state and not what some out of state groups want."

..."On Target" Ed Gaffney from Grosse Pointe Farms...

"I hope I don't have to vote, nobody likes to raise taxes," said Mr. Gaffney, adding that he wouldn't be intimidated by Mr. Drolet, who he called a "brown-shirted, knuckle-dragging thug."

... "Ever-Popular" Dick Ball from Bennington Township...

"I feel the citizens of the 85th District elected me to do what is best, and necessary, for them and all of the citizens of Michigan," Ball said. "I was not elected to cater to, or be intimidated by, any special-interest group."

..."Always Adorable" Valde Garcia from Howell...

"It's an attempt to intimidate state legislators into not voting for a tax increase," he said.

One more Republican and the Democrats after this commercial message... 
..."Continuation Budget" Jack Brandenburg from Macomb County...

Reminded that there were lots of Macomb County residents who "loved" recalls, Brandenburg paused for a moment and confessed some "wackos" do. 

"Now you're calling recallers wackos?" he was asked.

"I would say so," he confirmed.

And the Democrats, who find themselves with some swell new friends this year...

..."Censorship-Buster" Glenn Anderson from Westlake...

"What is the basis of the actions he is alleging?" Mr. Anderson said. "This is a cowardly way to try to intimidate the Legislature."

..."Confused" Dennis Olshove from Warren...

"What are they going to do? Recall me for restructuring government?" he said.

... a cameo from "Quote Guy" Bill Rustem...

"You just have to stare him down," Mr. Rustem said of Mr. Drolet.

... and, a special guest apperance by, no stranger to recall threats herself, the Governor, as "The Governor"...

"In the face of recall threats or not, I would hope that every legislator has the backbone to do what's right for their district, do what's right for the state of Michigan and not just consider their own political future," Granholm told reporters Tuesday morning.

"This is about Michigan's future. People were sent to Lansing not to cast easy votes. They were sent to fix our problems. We have a massive deficit, we need a comprehensive solution, regardless of whether somebody, some extremist group is out there threatening recalls. They need to do what's right for Michigan."

Will Leon get his paperwork filed in time? Will Mr. Perks eat the paperwork before Leon can file it? Will the county clerks lock the doors and go to lunch when they see Leon pull up? 

The answer to these, and many other questions you didn't even know you had, this Fall on BFM!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dream Academy- This World

Always Gorkys

Always Gorkys

Gorkys Hernandez plays around before the game 8/24

One last Sunday afternoon game today... where's the summer gone?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It's 2 AM. Do you know where your legislator is?

Capitol Dome With Clouds
According to our logs, they were still in Lansing. Hits in the middle of the night. 2:31 am. 3:33 am. And just now 4:57 am.

No MIRS, no Gongwer yesterday. Dave Eggert at the AP checked in 12:20, and the story was updated this morning to include the news that they were still there at 4:30 am.

Both the Democratic-led House and Republican-controlled Senate began swapping a slew of bills with spending guidelines for individual state departments for the budget year that starts Oct. 1. But bipartisan support was lacking as debate over bills rolled into early Thursday morning.

Senate Republicans approved 10 bills at spending levels about $163 million below Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's recommendations. House Democrats, meanwhile, prepared separate bills that would spend more than the governor proposed, including doubling parts of her original 2.5 percent funding increase for public universities.

House providing funding, Senate shooting low (but not as low as they claim they need to shoot) and not a lot of details as of this morning. One interesting tidbit from the Detroit News-

Senate bills generally will call for spending less than Granholm has recommended for such departments as the State Police. House bills call for added spending on higher education.

Weren't the Republicans the ones running around with their hair on fire over prison reforms? And now they vote to cut the budget for the State Police? Very curious.

Craig DeRoche was obviously up way past his bedtime. There, there, Craig. It will be OK. Andy says so over the flip...

The Democrat-led House passed budget bills for K-12 schools late Wednesday. But final passage of bills for universities and community colleges stalled early Thursday, although the House remained in session as of 4:30 a.m.


During debate on the K-12 schools budget, House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, proposed a tongue-in-cheek amendment to raise school funding by $1 trillion.

Sounds like someone needed some warm milk and a lullaby.

Dillon makes good on his promise to talk to the press.

"We still have to have the process where we get budgets moving back and forth so we're done by Sept. 30," Dillon said. "I'm very comfortable with this. I think we're saying this is ideally what we'd hope to do in this environment. But if we have a revenue shortage, we're going to have to look at paring some of them back."

Not so sure that middle of the night sessions are an ideal environment, but beggars can't be choosers. We wanted them to get to work - but we never expected them to try to do it all in one night.

The danger comes when they try to slip through things like this-

Senators also sparred over a GOP plan to privatize more of Michigan's foster care, adoption and juvenile justice systems and whether a new border crossing over the Detroit River should be public or private.

Turning over the kids to private profiteers is a potentially deadly move. Should we revisit what happened up at the Baldwin punk prison? Not only were there stories of abuse, the prison was not cost efficient.

Republicans have turned "privatization" into a windfall that benefits only their backers and gouges the taxpayer. The idea might have held promise at one time, but it is now just one more thing that the Bush Republicans have screwed up.

Word comes this morning that the lawmakers are headed back to Traverse City this weekend.


Dillon said he presented Bishop with a range of possible cuts and tax hikes to solve the budget problem. He wouldn't comment on a broadcast report that his proposals include an income tax increase from the current 3.9 percent to as much as 4.4 percent.

He described his proposals as "a menu of things" and said the two will continue to meet this weekend at a Traverse City meeting of more than 700 lawmakers from 11 Midwest states and three Canadian provinces.

The last trip up north has managed to land Michael Sak in the headlines almost every day for the past week in the Grand Rapids area. Better set a "two drink maximum" for lawmakers so we can avoid more embarrassing incidents, OK? OK.

More to come...

Mark Schauer to run for Congress

To be honest- part of me is thrilled he is running, part of me is heartbroken at the thought of not having him here.

But- we want what is best for the Senator, and we want the BEST representing Michigan in Washington - so-


Walberg is toast.

LANSING, Mich. -- State Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer said Thursday he will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in the 2008 election after declining earlier overtures to enter the race.

"Tim Walberg is not doing the job," Schauer told The Associated Press on Thursday. "He is serving a very narrow interest. He's really been a servant of the Bush-Cheney administration and the extreme special interests in Washington."


Schauer filed paperwork to run in the 7th District, which includes parts of seven counties in south-central Michigan. It has been targeted by Democrats because Walberg, of Tipton, failed to capture 50 percent of the vote in last year's election.

Schauer, who had pledged to Senate Democrats to serve out his full four-year term as minority leader through 2010, said he will keep being the Democratic leader while running for Congress. He said he changed his mind about running after being approached by both rank-and-file constituents and party leaders.

The push by others for him to join the race "almost became deafening," Schauer said.

Gonna need a bumpersticker. And a t-shirt.

Best of luck, Senator Schauer!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Senate sets Michigan primary for Jan. 15th

A Jan. 15 election would put Michigan third in the nation behind Iowa and New Hampshire. 

Michigan's earliest presidential primary ever cleared its first hurdle today when the Senate voted to hold the vote on Jan. 15 of next year.

The Senate approved the early primary date on a 21-17 vote. The House could act on the legislation as early as next week. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said she would sign an early primary bill.

An amendment moving the date up to Jan. 15 from Feb. 5 passed 35-0. But Democrats voted against final passage of the bill because they said some technical changes are needed before there is final agreement.

Under the legislation for a semi-closed primary, voters would have to request a Republican or Democratic ballot.

Got your yard signs ready? Will other states try to leapfrog in front of us? Are we entering an age of perpetual presidential campaigning? Can we afford it? Is that John Edwards at my door? Do I have to start paying attention to this now?

The answers to these, and many other questions, will unfold as time goes on...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Senate Republican SOD for 8/21 - Gloom and Doom Republicans

Capitol Front B & W
These guys are a real drag, man.

Our SOD comes from an unnamed Senate Republican, speaking on the budget negotiations.

From Gongwer-

One Senate Republican said that by the end of the process, "a whole lot of people are going to be unhappy."

They project pessimism on everything. Have you noticed that? The Governor sucks, the state sucks, our business climate sucks, the budget deal is gonna suck, everything is just horrible, if you are a Republican.

Republicans need things to be bad, so they will run around and tell everyone how bad everything is. All the time. Watch for it.

This is your chance, Speaker Dillon. On the diary down below, you said, "I tend to err on the side of staying positive and focused on the issues before us".

Democrats can focus on the real issues, and staying positive is not an "err" in this case; it is your ultimate goal.

Democrats are going to save schools, provide public safety, promote health care, and preserve our quality of life. Isn't that what it is all about? If lawmakers won't stand up for home, Mom, and apple pie, then what is left to stand up for? Here is your opening, Democrats. Take it.

Not only are Republicans crying doom and gloom, they want to drag that doom and gloom out for as long as they possibly can. One House Republican thinks a continuation budget is a good idea.

"If I had to bet, I would say this is all leading to a continuation budget," said Rep. Jack Brandenburg, a Harrison Township Republican who serves on the House Appropriations Committee. "Just hold the line for this year. She (Granholm) won't admit it, but that's a pretty good compromise."

You have got to be kidding me. Republicans are now justifying not doing their job and calling it a compromise?

No dice, says Bob Emerson, over the flip...

"If you allow procrastinators to procrastinate, they will procrastinate," Emerson said. He said agreeing on a temporary budget for a few months won't be any easier than a full-year budget.

Both Granholm and Dillon have said that a continuation budget is not an option, and Dillon claims that he will move the entire budget and the revenue to support it, so any blowback from the "continuation" talk will fall right back on the Republicans. Look for that to drop off the map pretty soon.

According to Gongwer and the Free Press, the Senate is going to pass the budget bills as they stand, which seems to indicate they are conceding the needed revenue.

Doesn't mean they will vote to fund those bills, but it's a start. From Gongwer-

According to a variety of sources, Senate leaders plan to run all the bills approved by the Appropriations Committee. There are large series of amendments pending on virtually all the bills, but at least as of Monday afternoon officials planned to win approval of the bills largely unchanged from the manner they were reported from the committee.

If that is the case, one Senate Democratic official said his caucus will be prepared to make the case that Republicans are comfortable with the notion of raising as much as $1.5 billion in tax increases.

They are voting to spend the money, but they haven't voted for the money. That will be the final, problematic battle. The Freep lays it out-

Bishop keeps insisting on spending reforms before taxes are raised, although Republicans haven't agreed among themselves on how or what to cut.

House Democrats hold a 58-52 majority but probably don't have enough votes yet for a tax increase that Granholm says is necessary to avert a looming deficit estimated as high as $1.8 billion.

And for all of this talk of the administration not being involved in the process, the ultimate truth comes to us from Todd Cook of Mainstreet Strategies, courtesy of MIRS.

In a re-occurring series where "MIRS talks to political pundits", in some circles known as "MIRS talks to the DeVos Flying Monkeys", Cook had this to say-

"The reality is that the Governor is still the most powerful position in state government and the last time I checked Granholm is still the Governor," Cook continued. "She's going to be a part of any budget agreement."

That's right. As much as the Republicans like to call her "irrelevant", she still wields the big pen.

Keep that in mind, legislators. She's term- limited, likely in line for bigger and better things, and doesn't have a lot to lose by standing up to force a comprehensive solution that she can live with.

She might just send you all back to the drawing board if you get this wrong, so let's get it right the first time.

And let the Republicans cry all the way into 2008. "Michigan sucks" was such a fine campaign slogan in 2006; it appears that they are going continue with this theme.

Let them. And we win again.

Monday, August 20, 2007

BFM Welcomes Speaker of the House Andy Dillon

Over the weekend, we had a comment on an old diary of mine from "repdillon", and, since it sounded so much like the real Andy Dillon, I let it stand.

We have confirmation this morning that this is, indeed, the Speaker of the House, Andy Dillon.

I would like to extend an official welcome to the Speaker, say "thanks" for taking the time to post, but more importantly, I would like to highlight what he had to say about the coming budget battle.

With the activity that is scheduled for this week, it was great to hear things like "The House will not own a shutdown".

That's the kind of spirit I like!

Here is Andy Dillon, in his own words-

Happy to at least have you somewhat conflicted on me Wizardkitten. While I don't visit the blogging world very often, I appreciated reading your posts and the comments of the community today.

As a general rule, I think the residents are sick of the bickering so I tend to err on the side of staying positive and focused on the issues before us.  I see firsthand how the public spats affect our ability to get an agreement on anything.  For this reason, when the "Deal - No Deal" spat erupted, I was careful not to let it derail our ability to get back to the table.  The day may come when we need to engage in a public fight and you can rest assured that I will engage at that time as I did when the Republicans voted to repeal the SBT without a replacement.

As I read in one string, the House has moved a lot of legislation.  We have delivered on our campaign promises, have moved reforms and over half of the state budget has been passed by the House to the Senate.  We will move the remaining House bills this Wednesday and, if the Senate fails to move theirs, we will move them the following week.  We have advertised this to the MSM but they appear to be fixated on only two issues: taxes and reforms to teacher benefits. 

We are also prepared to send over the revenue bills if we cannot reach an agreement with the Senate.  The House will not own a shutdown.

I speak with the Governor and her team on a frequent basis.  The media likes to play up the notion that there is a divide between us but its not true.  For the most part, we have been on the same page.  Timing and tactics are debated but we share a common goal of investing in our state and its people.

I concede reasonable people can disagree as to what would of happened had we sent the solution over to the Senate several months ago.  However, I would have had to do that before there was consensus on the actual size of the deficit and would have had to move it on a party line vote.  That would have put several of my colleagues at risk and possibly the majority as well. I still may have to move the solution on a party line vote but at least it will happen after we gave ourselves every chance to reach a compromise and the public a chance to learn of the severity of the financial crisis.  The drum beat over the past several months has heightened awareness as to why we have to raise new revenues in these tough economic times.

I believe the day to day back and forth over the past few months will be long forgotten when the '08 budget is finished. After that, the people will compare the rhetoric with the solution and judge who was straight with them.

Thanks for keeping an eye on us and for fighting to move Michigan forward.

Best Regards,

Andy Dillon

Follow this link to read the whole exchange- you have to see where I was coming from at the time, and the diary he was responding to.

I have been critical of the Speaker this year, and it was great to have some dialogue with him. I hope that he continues to read our blog and answer our concerns- it shows a great deal of courage to speak up on a blog that said "bad things" about you.

With this action, you have shown the difference between you and your counterpart from the Senate. Thanks again Speaker Dillon, we look forward to hearing from you in the future!

Best of luck this week!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Riverside Heron

Riverside Heron

I believe this is a Blue Heron- there were a couple hanging out at Riverside Park the other day. More pics later.

Saturday, August 18, 2007



It was a froggy day.

Defending the Trail

Sometimes they come out and defend the trail...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cameron Maybin called up to the Tigers

Maybin Splash

Maybin with the Whitecaps in 2006

Wow. What a surprise.

A little over one week ago, the Tigers promoted top prospect Cameron Maybin to Double-A Erie. At the time, club president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Maybin would not be a candidate for a September call-up.

But that was before Maybin crushed pitching at Double-A, to the tune of a .400 average and four home runs in six games. Now, the club has decided to call Maybin up to the big leagues – on the day of a two-part roster shakeup.

Maybin, 20, has already arrived in New York, and will be uniform at Yankee Stadium tonight.

If any kid has the potential to break into the Show at this young of an age- he's it. One of the most exciting and talented players to ever come through West Michigan.

Go Cameron!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Senate Republican SOD for 8/16 - Why does Mike Bishop hate jobs?

This might be a new record. With 23 words, Mike Bishop manages to trivialize the entire state.

From MIRS, your Senate Republican SOD for 8/16-

"It doesn't make sense for her to go out and recruit jobs when there isn't an environment here for making a sizable investment," Bishop said.

So, not only does Mike trash the idea of creating jobs, he trashes the whole state in the eyes of investors. Thanks, Mike. You are quite the ambassador for our citizens and our business climate. 

We can always count on the Republicans to denigrate Michigan.

And, get this, if the Governor didn't "say bad things" about the Legislature, everything would be just fine! 

But then he followed up with a (from his perspective) positive spin on Granholm's upcoming trip, suggesting Granholm's overseas mission might be helpful to the budget discussions because she wouldn't be around making derisive comments about the Legislature.

Yes, that big, mean Governor is picking on them as they turn in one of the worst performances in history. The heart just aches, doesn't it? Poor legislators.

Bishop hides behind Dillon over the flip...
Mike continues to cling to Andy, trying to make it seem as if paying the bills is all her idea, and that he and Dillon are working something out so they can once again avoid making the tough decisions. Just like the fix for 2007, they will push this to the wire as they try to save their own hides.

Watch him try to split the party. 

He also said he fears Granholm may have created a situation where the Democrats won't be able to go along whatever Bishop and Dillon manage to hash out.

Your future, in the hands of Mike Bishop and Andy Dillon. Aren't you glad you elected them governor?

Questions now are: Will Andy sell us out to his buddy Mike? Will the House Democrats hide behind whatever underhanded, quick fix solution these two come up with? Will we have to do this dance all over again next year because they refuse to do their jobs and get this state on solid financial footing?

Bishop is out there trying to make it seem that everyone is on the side of the slash and burn Republicans.

Will the Democrats ever stand up to this rhetoric? 

Stay tuned...

Elimination of SBT cost Michigan jobs and investment

Remember last year when Dick DeVos, Brooks Patterson, and the Republicans in the Legislature were running around and telling us how wonderful everything would be if we just eliminated the Single Business Tax?

They were wrong.

DETROIT -- Business growth in Metro Detroit -- new ventures and expansion of existing ones -- fell dramatically in the past 12 months compared to the previous year, reflecting the region's slumping economy and uncertainty for much of the year over the state's plans for a new business tax.

Business investment in Southeast Michigan fell from 73 expansions or new projects worth $449.7 million and 2,775 jobs from July 2005 through July 2006, to 45 ventures worth $66.3 million and 644 jobs in the past 12 months, according to a report the Detroit Regional Economic Partnership released Wednesday at its annual luncheon.

And why did investment plans get put on hold?

Uncertainty over how businesses would be taxed by the state was a serious detractor to business development for most of the past year, said Dana Johnson, economist with Comerica Inc.

State legislators and the governor wrangled for months over a new business tax structure, and finally approved one in late June.

"The state was making it extremely hard to attract businesses by not having a tax in place," he said. "How can someone commit to coming here when you can't tell them how they'll be taxed?"

He also noted that without a business tax in place, it was difficult to develop tax breaks to lure businesses.

The Detroit News article tells us that things are in the pipeline and growth is once again expected in the region, but the fact is that the irresponsible fiscal behavior of Michigan Republicans cost us time, jobs and money - all for an election gimmick.

So, when Republicans claim that they know what is best for Michigan now, how can you trust them?

Food for thought.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Alberto Gonzales Protest in Grand Rapids

Gonzales Protest Resign


A group of around 25-30 protesters greeted the crowd that came to see Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speak in Grand Rapids today.

A few more pictures over the flip...

Gonzales Protest A Boy and His Dog

A Boy and His Dog

Security was everywhere, of course, but it wasn't as prevalent as it usually is for such... um... "dignitaries".

Gonzales Protest Huddle

Discussing strategy

The group chanted at the parade of suits walking into the event, and then huddled to discuss further plans. They broke up and milled about, perhaps to reform after the speech.

Gonzales Protest Bridge

War kills

A couple of protesters chat with a passer-by on a bridge that spans the Grand River.

Proud of my little town and our dedicated band of rabble-rousers.

From my camera to the whole state in less than an hour...


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Granholm slams Legislature on budget stall

Go get 'em, Governor! Woot!

Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who leaves Saturday for a week-long European trade mission, slammed the Legislature today for failing to pass a state budget, adding that the time for talking about it is over.

Not only are they Absent in August, they haven't even set a calendar for September yet.

She noted that lawmakers are scheduled to meet only nine days in September. The current budget expires Sept. 30. The budget for next year is up to $1.8 billion out of whack. Granholm has proposed tax increases and all sides have introduced budget reforms.

"Nine days to do the budget and reforms and the Senate hasn't even passed a budget bill yet," the governor said, shaking her head.

The administration is ready to negotiate, but no one is home. Once again the train has to pull the caboose.

"Bob Emerson is over there every single day meeting with whoever is there, but nobody is there," Granholm said. "They need to do their job and they cannot do it if they are not in the chair."

Check out the details on the jobs mission to Sweden here. And as Tom Walsh pointed out this morning, the No Worker Left Behind program has already netted some new jobs.

Obvious to see who is working for the people, and who isn't.

Another Whitecap makes the bigs

Jair Jurrens 6/5/2005

Jair Jurrens pitches for the Whitecaps 6/5/2005

Man, this kid seems too young.

DETROIT - As they proved again Monday night, the Detroit Tigers still need better work from their starting rotation.

Maybe Jair Jurrjens can help.

The 21-year-old Jurrjens will become the 11th different starter the Tigers have used this year, when he makes his major-league debut Wednesday in Cleveland. Manager Jim Leyland announced Monday that Jurrjens will be called up from Double-A Erie, where he is 7-5 with a 3.20 ERA in 19 starts.

"He's been really throwing well," Leyland said. "They just said he's throwing great, using all his pitches. And he's done a pretty good job against left-handed hitters."

Good luck Jair.

Monday, August 13, 2007

John Conyers to Karl Rove : Not so fast

Conyers is still on the job.

Today, Conyers said: "The need for Karl Rove to explain his role in the firing of the U.S. Attorneys does not diminish when he leaves the White House. Our investigation to date has revealed the White House's contempt for the rule of law and its interest in the politicization of the Department of Justice."

Karl. In an orange jumpsuit.

Sounds good, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Eat your Brussels sprouts, Lansing

Once upon a time, at long ago holiday meals, my relatives had this thing about making me eat food I didn't like. "Eat three bites, and then you can leave the table", they would say.

I would sit at the table long after everyone had retired to the living room, pushing the now-cold food around my plate, feeling hurt and resentful that they didn't understand that I couldn't eat certain foods. It triggered a gag reflex, and I literally couldn't swallow them. Stuffing was one of the main culprits. Brussels sprouts were the worst. Just couldn't do it.

So it apparently is with our lawmakers when it comes to working on this year's budget. Politically they can't swallow the food on their plate, so they push it around some more, making it seem as if they are eating something, when in fact they are not.

Oh, they will tell you that they are diligently working on those three bites, pointing to the empty spot where the sprouts used to be, when they had actually hidden them under the mashed potatoes, or fed them to the dog, or spit them out in a napkin, which they then threw away.

Those were my tricks. The difference between the lawmakers and myself?

I didn't campaign for the job of eating the food. I didn't run around telling everyone that I would eat those nasty Brussels sprouts for them, if only they would send me to that big table in Lansing. And I certainly wasn't being paid $90 g's a year with benefits, although sometimes the promise of dessert was dangled as an incentive.

The major difference was that I was seven years old, and the lawmakers are supposedly grown adults. But yet they are behaving like children who don't want to eat the Brussels sprouts when it comes to working on this year's budget. They will do anything to avoid it.

My relatives were wise to my tricks. The people of Michigan need to become wise to the tricks of the legislators before they set the table on fire in a last ditch attempt to avoid eating that yucky food.

The press is catching on, follow over the flip to see...
Today, Peter Luke pointed out that technically we have 34, count 'em, 34 days until the budget is due, but when lawmakers actually show up to do their jobs, which will be rare in August, they are busy pushing the sprouts under the mashed potatoes.

Using the budgets passed by the House, this week's promise from Granholm to universities to raise their state aid if they keep tuition down, and the refusal of Senate Republicans to look at prison reform, Peter shows us a quite a big pile of mashed potatoes, indeed.

With a budget deficit already estimated as high as $1.8 billion, the average person might wonder why just about everyone in Lansing is effectively proposing policies that would make that deficit even larger. And then at the same time ignore the question of how the votes will be cobbled together to pay for any of it.

Residents of this state are told they can have more money for education, safe streets and better roads when of course they'll get nothing of the sort until somebody's taxes are raised to pay for it.

The chasm that exists right now is between the state that Michigan residents presumably want and the one it will likely remain unless a consensus on revenues is reached soon. There is a rough consensus among politicians on the amount of money needed. Given the scary magnitude of that figure, they don't have a clue about how to collect it.

The consequences of my refusal to eat certain food have led to a slight iron deficiency in adulthood. I get dark circles under my eyes, suffer from a bit of fatigue, probably a few other things going on that I am unaware of. Not a big deal, right now. I take vitamins. Eventually though, it will probably catch up to me, and I will pay in the form of some very expensive medical condition.

The consequences of Lansing not eating the food on their plate have the potential to harm millions right now, this very year. College students have already felt it.

Ron Dzwonkowski of the Free Press wonders why Lansing doesn't seem to care. Ron shows us a big 'ol pile of mashed potatoes, too.

Do I make it seem like the state is falling apart? That's because it is. And your legislators are squabbling over whether the Secretary of State can close certain branch offices and which Web sites ought to be blocked from state computers. Then a House committee last week passed a budget bill that calls for spending $30 million more than Gov. Jennifer Granholm proposed for libraries, museums and the Detroit Zoo. What world do these people live in.

The Freep editorial points to a poll that shows that Detroit residents don't want to eat the Brussels sprouts, either.

Well, of course not. Who would volunteer for such a thing when they haven't felt the consequences yet?

I will throw in a c) The state's breakdown has not yet had a direct effect on the kind of people who will stay on the phone for pollsters. They were not the people lying shot for 30 minutes on a street in Royal Oak Township waiting for help from the State Police, an agency with 350 fewer troopers these days due to budget cuts. They are not on Medicaid, don't have a relative in prison because of a drug problem, and are either well past college or not interested in going. In other words, for whatever reasons, they don't personally feel what's happening to this place they call home.

And why should they? Nobody in Lansing seems to feel it either.

No, they don't feel it. Not yet. They will.

And the legislators will do just about anything to avoid feeling it, because it's obvious that saving their own skin comes before the needs of the people they serve.

Tim Skubick brings us a rumor that is floating around the Capitol.

And indeed there is talk of deliberately postponing a new state budget and a tax vote until late November. Instead, lawmakers could pass a continuation budget this fall, which continues state spending at this year's levels. It avoids the shutdown of government and eliminates a February date for a recall.

Similar maneuvering could also make it difficult for recallers to qualify for a May election.

But would lawmakers go to such lengths to avoid recalls?

"I think it's been factored into their decision ... That's what Democrats have explained to me," confirms the House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche, R-Novi.

Craig is one of the ones pushing the food around the plate, so I take what he says with a grain of salt. He is spitting his food in the napkin, too. Don't let him fool you.

Like my grandma long ago, the Governor can make them all sit at the table, but she can't make them swallow. She can only go about the business of cleaning up the rest of the mess in the house.

My grandma's silence disturbed me greatly, but I doubt that the lawmakers care what Granholm thinks about them. You know the only strategy the Republicans have is to defy every single thing that she does; the people of Michigan don't factor into their equation. The Democrats, along with the MDP, seem content to take the gifts that she has offered, that of their very careers, and repay her, and the people that elected them, with their sullen behavior that serves only themselves. Shame on all of them.

The food is going to go rancid on Lansing's plate before they eat their three bites. And you are going to be the one to pay in the end with some very expensive consequences.

Usually, I would end up giving in, and swallow those three bites, no matter how hard it was. Even as a child, I knew what had to be done.

Let's hope that Lansing figures it out, too.


Paul McCartney - Live and Let Die

"When you've got a job to do, you gotta do it well..."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Michigan in Pictures

A beautiful blog. And today they feature yours truly with a shot I took last Thanksgiving out at Kirk Park along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Thanksgiving Sunset

Scroll down the page to see some more marvelous pictures- we have a lot of talented photographers in this state, and a lot of beauty for that talent to capture and share.

Great site, one you should visit daily.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hi blog. I miss you.

Thanksgiving Morning 34

This picture is a favorite of mine. Sorry I haven't had anything new lately, I hope to rectify that soon. Things got a little busy.

I've decided to stop the political on this blog - I'm going to take it back for myself. My pictures, my baseball team, whatever- maybe some other news stories here and there.

So Lansing, if you want to read about Lansing (and I know you do!), go to-

BFM - Blogging For Michigan

I've pretty much shaken them off anyway - they all followed me over there as far as I can tell.

I'm going to see about getting this off the Lefty Blogwire (can't figure out how to do that). And then I will have a space for myself again, away from all the bullshit.

That would be very nice. :-)

Senate Republican SOD for 8/10 - Bishop pushes the Oct 1st deadline

Mike Bishop seems to think that the safety net for his obstruction on the 2008 budget is a continuation of the budget currently in place. If he manages to stall past Oct. 1st, we could just push this baby right to the end of the year.

From MIRS- John Cherry pointed out the obvious.

No single FY 2008 department budget has passed more than one legislative chamber and the talks between the House and Senate are creeping along. A state budget needs to be in place by Oct. 1, making a shutdown an "imminent potential event."

"We don't want a shutdown," Cherry told MIRS. "But I think anybody who has some sense of how state government operates sits here in the middle of August…and wonders how this can be avoided."

To which Bishop replied - and tell me that this guy hasn't been talking to Dick DeVos lately when you hear this statement -

"I think it's irresponsible for elected members of government to talk about shutting down government services. She shouldn't use it as a threat," Bishop said. "She's the CEO of the company. She's got the ability to make sure that (a shutdown) doesn't happen, and if that's the case, she shouldn't use it as a threat."

State government as a business. Didn't we hear that theme last year? Didn't it go down to a 14 pt. defeat? Maybe Mike missed that. After all, he was oblivious to the budget problem too.

More insanity over the jump...
Also from that same MIRS article we find out Bishop and Granholm haven't talked since he hid in the men's room the night the MBT passed. That had been a persistent rumor, and now it's in print. Thank you Tim Skubick for getting that out there.

Republican leadership in action. Run and hide from the big mean Governor.

And we also find out that the notion of "ongoing talks" that both Dillon and Bishop had repeatedly stated were happening in July actually had a bit of a gap. Maybe this coincided with a certain vavcation they insisted on taking.

"It's been awhile since we had a good long talk," he said, while adding he has been meeting on a regular basis with House Speaker Andy Dillion (D-Redford Twp.) even though they did not meet for a two-week stretch last month.

Wow. There were assurances that these talks were happening all through July. Wonder why they thought it necessary to give us that appearance when it really wasn't true.

Yesterday, Granholm and Cherry shot back that a continuation budget is a "ridiculous" notion.

"This is not a solution," she said, before once again urging lawmakers to sit in their chair and vote on the budget that she introduced. She also complained that lawmakers are meeting one day a week during August and as it turns out, the Senate did not meet this week.

Later in the morning, Lt. Gov. John Cherry outlined a practical problem with simply keeping a status quo budget until Dec. 31 - the state doesn't have the money to continue current services in FY 2008, whether the Legislature passes a budget for 12 months, six months, three months or one month.

"A continuation budget is a deficit budget," he said. "That's against the Constitution. I don't know how you do it."

Rumor has it they won't meet next week, either. August 22nd is the next time they all get together.

Not much the Governor can do. It's all in the hands of Bishop and Dillon to get things moving.

"The Governor has moved on," said Granholm Press Secretary Liz Boyd. "When we have budget bills passed and in conference committee, the stage will be set for some negotiations. Until then, the Legislature needs to act on the budget."

The Senate has not taken action on any of the 10 departmental budgets that have passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The House has voted out four and has taken some action on all 18 departmental budgets that fund state government. Although three out of the last seven budgets weren't finalized until September, the lack of movement of the actual bills is unusual for the Legislature.

Granholm was asked if she could call lawmakers back into session, which she has threatened to do before.

"I can call them back, but I can't get them to vote," she responded.

If you remember back in the spring, Mike Bishop pushed his agenda right through the Senate and held a vote without any time for debate. Now the tactic seems to be to stall as much as you possibly can.

And talk of government as if it were a company.

There is a really big clue in today's SOD. Let's hope that people figure it out.

And here come the editorial pages...

Today's editorial from the Traverse City Record Eagle.

Oh, Mike. You got some 'splaining to do.

Who does he think he is? Dick Cheney?

After a brief fling as Michigan's Censor-in-Chief, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop on Tuesday restored access for lawmakers and staffers to a political Web site that had apparently hurt his feelings.

By the time he reversed himself, however, whatever the site had said about him paled in comparison to the beating he took in the blogosphere and in print - from left and right - over his decision to unilaterally suspend the First Amendment for senators and staffers.

They start off great. It gets even better.

more over the flip...

After ordering the shutdown, Bishop's office immediately started a backup smear campaign. Bishop spokesperson Matt Marsden claimed the site was being fed inside information - or worse. "It was fairly clear that this blog had access to Senate information off Senate servers," he intoned ominously.

Hardly. And now everyone knows it. 

Even assistant Senate Secretary Pam Nyquist got in on the act. She told Gongwer News Serivce that an investigation was under way to determine if the blog was created by a Senate employee using Senate equipment.

"That would not be appropriate," she said.

No, it wouldn't - if even a single word of it was true. But it was all just blather, and by Tuesday Bishop's office had dropped the conspiracy theories.

The TC Record Eagle knocks down every excuse that Bishop and Co. threw out there, and for good measure they take a shot about the budget delay, too.

Go read. Good stuff. Much applause for the TCRE.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Granholm sued over access to her state web page

This is an interesting twist.

Should politicians be forced into promoting something they don't believe in on their own government web page?

LANSING, Mich. -- A conservative law center has sued Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, saying she has discriminated against residents who oppose embryonic stem cell research by refusing to let them have equal space on her taxpayer-supported Web site.

The Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center said Thursday it has filed suit in federal court in Lansing on behalf of the Lansing Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, Flint-Area Right To Life and Right To Life-Lifespan.

Granholm, who wants to lift Michigan's restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, has a link on her state Web site that encourages citizens to sign a petition asking the state Legislature to pass bills that would lift restrictions on such research.

The law center says Granholm refused requests from its clients to place their own petition on the Web site opposing embryonic stem cell research.

It seems to me that any governor, be they a Democrat or Republican, should have the right to determine what is on that space, be it a petition or whatever.

Taken to the extreme, everyone could sue for access on any position- I don't see where they have standing here.

Go sign the Governor's petition. Say thanks to RtL for giving it some publicity.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bishop censorship now a statewide story

This morning from the Freep-

LANSING -- Blogging for Michigan, a liberal blog, is no friend of Senate Republicans. And they want none of it.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop's chief of staff, Matt Miner, has ordered the Web site blocked from state Senate computers -- an action that has provoked cries of censorship from the liberal blogosphere and Senate Democrats. Republicans say it's a question of appropriate use of Senate equipment. Democrats say it's a question of free speech and using blogs to communicate with the public.

"It's a case of censorship, plain and simple. It's a very dangerous road to go down," Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek, said Monday.

And the Battle Creek Enquirer-

State Democratic senators are crying foul after their access to a liberal Internet blog was blocked Thursday.

According to Tom Lenard, communications director for Sen. Mark Schauer, the order to block access to Blogging for Michigan from the Senate's Internet server came from Matt Miner, chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, after Republicans apparently saw stories posted to the site they didn't like.

The AP story from Dave Eggert has been picked up by many news organizations.

Mike Bishop will be on Walt Sorg's AM Lansing show today at 8:40. 1320 WILS on your radio dial in the Lansing area.

Ladies and gentlemen, we now have ourselves a "media event". If you see any more news, post a link in the comments below.

Once again Mike Bishop escapes having to work on the budget, but he certainly is defining himself as an obstructionist. 

Now the whole state will know that Mike Bishop will censor speech he doesn't approve of.

UPDATE: Chad Livengood from the Jackson Citizen Patriot was the first to break this story - he now has an update here. Make sure you check it out!

Granholm fights rising tuition costs

While Senate Republicans were busy trying to curtail free speech, the Governor was out trying to do something about the recent tuition hikes at state universities.

They make a mess, she cleans it up. Par for the course.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Monday asked leaders of the state's 15 public universities to consider lightening the burden of recently approved tuition increases in return for a funding increase of up to 5 percent this fall.

In a private meeting at her 14th floor office in Detroit's Cadillac Place, Granholm called on university presidents and board members -- many of whom listened on a conference call -- to restrain midyear tuition hikes and lower costs for the second semester.

Senate Republicans, of course, will have no part of cheaper tuition rates for our state's college kids. They went back to the old song and dance of "reforms", offering nothing on their part, and further stalling progress for our state.

The proposal hinges on the outcome of slow-moving negotiations in Lansing over the 2008 state budget. The key for Granholm would be to persuade Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, who says he's not ready to sign off on any deal she makes with university officials.

"Currently, there's no budget," said Bishop's spokesman, Matt Marsden, referring to the $1.8 billion deficit the Legislature is working to resolve for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

There is no budget because Senate Republicans refuse to work on one.

"We can't figure out what's available for universities until we know where we can make cuts and reforms necessary to produce the savings we need. The governor really should be talking about cuts and reforms, not promising somebody more money at this point."

So, where are these "reforms" that Senate Republicans keep talking about? Where is their plan?

And on top of that, are they going to try to tell the Governor what she should say now, too?

Senate Republicans have done nothing but mouth platitudes about the budget situation.

Offer up your "cuts and reforms", Republicans. Get it on the table.

Until you do, you are nothing but obstructionists.

Senate Republican Statement of the Day 8/7 - Thanks for playing, Mike

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their support of BFM and of free speech. Some people really stepped up here and helped me through a very difficult time, you know who you are, and you have my undying gratitude.

Special thanks go out to Senator Mark Schauer. Whatever it is that you are "going to decide" in the next 24 hours, I'm behind you all the way.

I am way too tired to try to write about all of this, but I did want to give you the SOD from Bishop's Chief of Staff Matt Miner, courtesy of MIRS-

"I think it's great that people have these so they can express their opinion," he said.

Turns out that Senate Republicans love blogs. Who woulda thunk it.

Keep up the good fight people.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tuning In To BFM - What a Week It Was

Well. That was fun. And exhausting.

In case you missed last week, here is the roundup of some of the latest and greatest-

  • ACC Continues To Make Progress In Detroit - Groundbreaking on a new learning center in Detroit

  • Better Know a District...Michigan's 9th! - Jordan will lead the Michigan Democratic Party someday.

  • The wrath of Rick Albin - Rick to Lansing: "You suck".

  • Wrong Michigan Feeds Distortion To MIRS - Wingnuts go after Granholm. Again. They miss.

  • Witness to Riot - "what did the riots really achieve?" - Christine raps up the series on the Detroit Riots of '67. For a look at the whole series, click here.

  • A New Economy Growing In Michigan - Our future starts now.

  • Supporter of no reason absentee ballot does flip-flop - Another Republican buckles to party pressure.

  • Granholm kicks off worker training program, Bishop disapproves, as usual - Governor does good. Bishop doesn't like that.

  • Imports Outsell Big Three in July - We're No. 2! For the first time.

  • Legislature Term Limits Create Openings For Oakland County - Turn Oakland blue!

  • Bruce Patterson: Blame the universities first - Funny thing is that I wasn't even going to do this post because I thought I was being redundant. It set off a firestorm.

  • Michigan Kids, Legislature Both Need to Shape Up - Senator Deb Cherry kicks off a series from the Senate Democrats on legislation they would like to work on. For some reason, Deb had problems accessing the site... which led us to our next big story...

  • BFM Blocked By Mike Bishop, Michigan Senate Not Allowed To Access - Annnnnd we find out we had been censored by Mike Bishop. Many diaries of understandable outrage follow, here, here, here, here, and here. But the best was...

  • Mark Schauer: I Oppose Censorship of Blogs - a visit from Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer makes my week complete. Does it get any better than that?

  • It might. Stay tuned.

    Jackson Citizen Patriot blogs on Bishop censorship

    Instant news. That's what it's all about.

    Thanks go to Chad Livengood and the Jackson CitPat for getting this story to the electronic press.

    If you're a Michigan Senator, you can still read this blog -- for now.

    There's quite a hubbub in Lansing today over Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop's decision to block Senate computers from accessing a liberal blog called

    Apparently Bishop's staff doesn't want Senate employees wasting taxpayer time as they diligently work to solve the state's budget crisis.

    At this point, BFM has heard many different excuses as to why Bishop doesn't want the Senate to see our work. I'm really curious as to the real reason. I tend to think it's this-

    Bishop's chief of staff, Matt Miner, ordered the blog be blocked on Thursday.

    Other political blogs, such as and, were not blocked.

    " doesn't matter, they don't say bad things about us," Miner told MIRS, a daily political newsletter.

    So, if you say good things about the Senate Republicans, you are probably OK. But don't count on it.

    Go read Chad's piece. Show the Jackson CitPat some love for addressing the issue of censorship.

    After all, you could be next.

    Bishop censorship hits the AP

    Oh Mike. You got some 'splaining to do.

    From Dave Eggert/AP via the Detroit News-

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Lawmakers and staffers using the state Senate's Internet server no longer can visit a left-leaning political Web site, prompting backlash from bloggers and others who say it is blatant censorship and a violation of free speech rights.

    I have been waiting all day for the Republican expanation on this. Apparently they are sticking with this one-

    Bishop spokesman Matt Marsden said Monday that the decision was made because using "state time and taxpayer money to surf sites not applicable to the jobs staff were hired to execute is not an acceptable use of state time or funds."

    But then this next part doesn't quite make sense, does it? I'm still confused.

    Senate Republicans, however, did not block other political Web sites such as and conservative-leaning blog, .

    The block came after Republicans apparently saw stories posted to the site they didn't like.

    The Senate Republicans are censoring speech that they don't like. Period.

    Mark Schauer isn't happy.

    "It's a very arbitrary, unfortunate and rash decision made by the Senate Republican leader's office," said Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer, D-Battle Creek.

    Yes, we think so. And I think that we just might have to do something about it.

    As of today, this site is still blocked.

    UPDATE: Link to WOOD AP story- they tend to stay around longer. Just for the record.

    Gov. Bill Milliken takes on Senate Republicans

    Looks like Mike Bishop will have to censor Bill Milliken too. From tonight's MIRS-

    Observing that it was time to end "Lansing's obsession with no new taxes," former Republican Gov. William MILLIKEN urged the Legislature to get on with the business of raising new revenue for state services.

    Milliken delivered a passionate and wide-ranging speech to the state's community college administrators last week in Traverse City, telling them the "state Senate needs to be taken to task. It is time for the Senate leader to stop playing politics and work with the Governor." Milliken did not mention Senate Majority Leader Mike BISHOP (R-Rochester) by name.

    Governor, I have been saying that all year, and look where it got me. Better be careful!

    He sticks up for Granholm on DOC issues-

    He praised the Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM for making some "important decisions" in the Department of Corrections budget that were denounced by Republicans. Milliken dismissed the criticism as "the worn-out mantra of being soft on crime" and blasted the Republican criticism of her sentencing guideline reforms as "bitter and vitriolic."

    I guess that MIRS will have to go from the Senate next.

    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    Democrats roll over for George Bush

    Honestly, I don't know why I even bother.

    By now you have heard that Mr. 26% ran around yelling "terror, terror, terror!" one more time, and Congressional Democrats caved one more time, and now watch our Constitution go swirling down the drain.

    From Devilstower at Kos, before the vote in the House

    If you should pony up our rights -- our rights -- as the price of buying the favor of a man at 26% in the polls, what do you think you're going to get for that price? Do you really expect the Republicans to shut up about this issue? Do you expect Fox News to run a streamer saying "Democrats fight terrorists!" and Bill O'Reilly to give you a round of applause?

    You're not going to get that. If you fold, Fox News is going to call you weak, and your Republican colleagues are going to go home and brag about how they rolled you. Oh, and they're still going to shout to the heavens that terrorists would be running down every main street in America, if they hadn't made the Democrats knuckle under.

    Stop worrying about what Republicans are going to say. Stop worrying about what Rush, and Bill, and Sean, and the Fox morning chorus is going to say. Stop being side characters in the epic tragedy that Bush is enacting on our nation and world.

    And then they folded like the house of cards that they are.

    Want a list of names? The House members are here. The Senate members are here.

    But seriously, does it really matter?

    There are a few who stand up and do the right thing. Bless 'em.

    But the party as a whole has no spine whatsoever.

    I see it in Washington. I see it in Michigan.

    And I wonder why I even bother to care.

    Oh sure, they will be around next year with their hands out, asking for my money, time, blood, sweat and tears, telling me how they will fight for me.... if I only pony up for them. But when it comes time that they should make a stand, they will vote to save their own skin first.

    Hi, Michigan House Democrats! Talking about you, too!

    Yeah, they'll fight for me. One of these days, right?

    I feel like the world's biggest fool.

    I'll get over it.

    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    Detroit News Weblog Post on Bishop

    Libby Spencer has posted at the Detroit News blog about Senator Bishop's actions.

    Good to see this hitting the MSM in any form- but I disagree with Libby on one thing-

    Bishop who is dancing faster than the hapless drunk in an old western trying to justify his boneheaded move, is surprised by the reaction. Maybe he should bone up on his constitutional knowledge. If he wants to ban blogs in the hallowed chambers of Lansing on account of work productivity, fine. But then he has to block all of them -- or none. In America, freedom of speech means everyone gets to talk. Not just the people who agree with him.

    I don't think Mike should be allowed to block anything in the "hallowed chambers of Lansing" by fiat like that- and I would say so at the DN, but I have never been able to figure out their very strange comment system there.

    So, Libby , if you're reading this- thanks for your thoughts on this matter. Nothing better than to see BFM appear at the Detroit News.

    Nolan? Your thoughts next?

    Friday, August 03, 2007

    Senate Republican SOD for 8/3 - Where to begin...

    Hello. My name is Cathleen Carrigan, but you know me as wizardkitten. You might remember me from my extensive body of work on the election last year.

    It appears that my series on Mike Bishop and the Senate Republicans here at Blogging For Michigan has caused quite the nationwide stir.


    It's about time that people started paying attention to the fact that Mike Bishop and the Senate Republicans are blocking progress for the citizens of Michigan. The Republican Party in this state has obstructed my Governor, Jennifer Granholm, at every turn during her time in office, and I want the whole nation to know about it. They are currently dragging their feet on fixing the budget crisis that faces Michigan, and that has been my focus for most of this year, both at this site and at my own blog.

    I started this series on July 24th- it's the "Senate Republican Statement of the Day". I decided to do this after reading the Senate Journals and listening to these guys get up day after day and say the most outrageous things... and I felt it was time to give them a little more publicity.

    Apparently Mike Bishop has taken offense to a post I did on Bruce Patterson, and decided to shut off access to this site for the Michigan Senate. Senate Republicans are trying to claim that this is the work of a Senate employee because, according to MIRS- "the blog updated after session and it coincides with what the Senate's doing."

    Yes. Just as soon as you guys put this on the web, and the stories hit the papers/journals, I am on it. I am just that quick.

    I found it very interesting that you would single out this blog and try to keep us from speaking out, especially right when the Senate Democrats are going to start a series of posts here. Other people are finding that interesting as well.

    Let's address the post that Bishop/Miner is referring to. If you look at that post on Patterson, you will see that it was made the day after he said the things that he said.

    you bet there's more...
    The audio came from the Senate Republican web site. The text came from the Senate Journals of 8/1. The rest of any text came from the Michigan news site Gongwer, with a link to the Detroit News thrown in as well.

    This is not the work of a Senate employee. This is me. And only me.

    And I am really, really good about sourcing my material.

    Here are a few more-

    Sen. Republican SOD 7/25 - Ron Jelink

    Sen. Republican SOD 7/26 - Nancy Cassis

    Sen. Republican SOD 7/28 - Mike Bishop

    Sen. Republican SOD 7/30 - Matt Marsden

    And various other posts calling out not only the Senate Republicans, but the House Democrats as well. Not a huge fan of Andy Dillon at this point.

    You will find all posts are referenced using materials available on the Internet, so, that really shoots your "employee" theory down, doesn't it? This is the work of a concerned citizen who loves her state.

    Now I find that Mike Bishop and the Republicans are now trying to deny myself and Blogging For Michigan our right to report on their activities by denying the members of the Senate the right to view that material, and the very voices of the citizens that they serve, that appear on our website. And they say this is the reason why- 

    Here is your Senate Republican Statement of the Day for 8/3- from MIRS-

    Miner said the site is "all about the political agenda of the Senate Dems" and that the site is politically motivated.

    No, I am "all about the political agenda of the Senate Dems", and of my Governor Jennifer Granholm, because they reflect my values and ideals for this state. The site is whatever our members want it to be, they are free to write on any topic as long as it is of a progressive nature.

    I love the Senate Dems. I am thrilled that they are here. They are fighting for the citizens of Michigan. And I intend to keep posting on all of this, regardless of what Mike Bishop and the Republicans do.

    But Blogging For Michigan is so much more. We intend to highlight the good things that are happening in this state as well. As Christine has pointed out there are many things going on here that the Senate Republicans conveniently overlook. We are not your average political blog.

    And as far as myself- I don't work for anyone except Blogging For Michigan. I am currently looking for a job. Need anyone? I would love to be a photographer. I have absolutely zero political ambitions or even the desire for fame- I have found I don't like it much- I just care about my state enough to do something about it in the form of writing.

    I love Michigan, and I want to see it get beyond the Big Republican Stall and start to move forward again.

    That's why I'm here. That's why I do the things I do.

    Any questions? Feel free to ask.

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    Bruce Patterson: Blame the universities first

    This shouldn't surprise anyone. It's the same old Republican trick that we have seen over and over- cut support to an institution/city/country/program/insert-whatever-it-is-here, and then turn around and blame that institution when it has to take steps to make up for the consequences that follow the cut of support in the first place.

    The blame is simply a diversion. A refusal to take responsibility, while insisting that everyone else take responsibility. We see it in Washington every single day.

    Getting tired of this trick yet? Bruce Patterson isn't. You can listen to Bruce lay the blame at the feet of universities  here, or you can read it here.

    Your Senate Republican SOD for 8/2-

    I venture to say that the problem isn't in the amount of appropriations; it's in the failure of the governing boards of these universities to contain costs. That's why students are suffering tuition hikes of inordinate amounts--a failure to contain costs.

    Pay no mind to the fact that since 2001 the state has "reduced higher education spending dollars to universities more than any other state in the country", a drop of nearly 20% in the past six years. That has nothing to do with it.

    It's those faculty members that want compensation on a par with their peers. That's it. Now Patterson wants faculty members to join the race to the bottom, too.

    and we're at the jump...
    As it stands right now, we are about even with other Great Lakes states as far as faculty salaries. From Gongwer-

    However, looking at a database operated by the American Association of University Professors and the Chronicle of Higher Education, faculty salaries are relatively in line with other schools, especially with Great Lakes states.

    The average salary of full professors at the University of Michigan at $130,000 in 2005-06 was larger than most the other Big Ten schools, but full professors at Penn State University earned $120,000 at the same time. Ohio State University professors earned $117,000 and at Indiana University it stood at $109,000. At Michigan State University, full professors earned an average of $110,000.

    The same was true of smaller schools, according to the database.

    Mike Bishop was in on this too. He was the one who had the list of salaries all ready to go for Bruce.

    Bishop also didn't mention the drop in state funding, instead saying that, "We feel state universities and colleges should not first turn to 'easy' solutions like tuition hikes when they find themselves with budget difficulties."

    The budget difficulties the Republicans created. As if hiking tuition was easy for these people. Sure they loved getting all those phone calls from angry students and parents.

    Mike also failed to point out that universities have made cuts to their costs. They have had to due to the drop in state funding coupled with the rising cost of living. Duh.

    In the meantime, universities are reducing costs -- nearly $120 million at U-M and $70 million at MSU in five years, and $28 million at Oakland in 10 years.

    Wayne State needs to cut $9.1 million this year alone, despite the tuition increase, to balance its budget. That means bigger class sizes and shorter library hours.

    Cut, cut, cut. Cut everything, and then turn around and blame the people who got cut.

    Whatever you do, never, ever, address your role in the situation. So much easier to create a diversion by blaming others. It's the Republican way.

    Mark Schauer on the "Do-Nothing Senate"

    Mark Schauer called out his Republican colleagues yesterday.

    With the fewest total roll call votes held so far in a decade and no budget bills having passed the chamber, Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) said Wednesday that Democrats are "sick and tired of being part of the do-nothing Senate."

    While Mr. Schauer acknowledged that the House has not yet moved on proposed tax increases, it is at least passing budget bills, but: "For better or worse, we're supposed to be a full-time Legislature, and yet the Senate seems incapable of moving anything."

    Rumor has it they won't be moving much in August, either.

    This will free up some Senators to... write for blogs!

    Senate Democrats will be writing on ten issues that they would like to be working on, if only they could get their Republican friends to stop stalling on the budget. We are honored that they are going to be here to share their thoughts with us. We hope to do this on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but of course we can't hold them to any set schedule, just in case the Republicans actually decide to get some work done. 

    Senator Deb Cherry will be along shortly to kick off the series... stay tuned, and in the meantime, watch the video from Senator Schauer. It's a good one.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    Not breaking: Not a bomb found in Romney building

    OK. They got me.

    If you saw the front page post that was only up for a minute at best- please forgive my haste.

    Gongwer reported a pipe bomb had been found in the Romney building.

    An apparent pipe bomb found in the lobby of the Romney Building caused a temporary lockdown of the building housing Governor Jennifer Granholm and other administration offices.  Workers in the building were either being locked out of the building or locked in as the State Police investigated the bomb with a robot, and the building has now reopened.

    And I go to the LSJ and find this-

    Police have determined a device found in the lobby of the Romney building this morning was not a bomb, according to Michigan State Police.

    We now return to your regularly scheduled program already in progress... the management at BFM regrets the error.

    Not an UPDATE: WOOD has video here.

    Detroit named No. 1 sports city

    In spite of a certain football team that shall remain nameless right now, this has happened...

    DETROIT -- With three of its four major franchises advancing deep into the playoffs, Detroit has been named North America's top sports city by the Sporting News.

    The magazine named the Motor City No. 1 in its 2007 annual ranking, which was published in editions that hit newsstands Wednesday.

    "Although it didn't bring home a title like some cities, Detroit benefits from having a full complement of very good teams and terrific fans to cheer them on," executive editor Bob Hille said in a written statement.

    To beat out Chicago is quite an honor. WTG Motown!

    Granholm kicks off worker training program, Bishop disapproves, as usual

    Why does Mike Bishop want to keep people from having jobs?

    Call this your Senate Republican SOD for 8/1- but let's give credit to the Governor first and foremost.

    Governor Granholm has a great idea for training displaced and unemployed workers in Michigan- give them the skills to match the jobs that are available right now and will be the growth areas in the future. Using federal money, the first group of students starts this fall.

    The program, called No Worker Left Behind, was detailed in Traverse City by Gov. Jennifer Granholm with the state's community college presidents. Granholm's goal is to retrain and place 100,000 workers in high-demand jobs in health care, alternative fuels and other fields within the next three years.

    The Democratic governor said she is starting the program with about $37 million in existing federal job training funds, which she can do without the Legislature's approval. Granholm also would like to add $40 million to the program from the state's general fund, which would require the Legislature's OK.

    Republicans did not sound open to that possibility Wednesday, saying the state doesn't have the money for the program.

    That's because the Republicans refuse to give Michigan a raise. When it comes time to help you, oh, so sorry, no money left in the till for the workers. They kind of remind you of your boss, don't they? 

    Yes, they do, and you know it. More on the other side...
    Granholm points out that there are jobs available in this state- people just need the training to fill them.

    "Michigan has got more of the workers who have been displaced by the global economy than any other state in the country," Granholm told The Associated Press in an interview before her announcement. "At the same time, we have 90,000 vacancies in Michigan's economy. But many of those vacancies require some kind of training or certification. We have a skills gap."

    This will help those employers that are having a hard time finding the people they need- so, this is also good for business.

    Eligible students could get up to $5,000 per year for two years _ $10,000 total. The training must be done through a community college, university or other approved program.

    Participants must earn a degree or certification in a high-demand field for their region _ typically health care, biotechnology, advanced manufacturing or renewable energy. Another alternative would be gaining the skills needed to start their own businesses.

    "This is really employer-driven," Granholm said. "We're not going to pay tuition for a worker who wants to go back and get a degree in French."

    Full disclosure: The Governor has a degree in French. But that's beside the point.

    Business will be happy. People will get jobs.

    Isn't that what it's all about right now?

    Not if you're Mike Bishop, speaking through his hand puppet Matt Marsden. Your Senate Republican SOD for 8/1 starts.... now! Take it away, Mr. Spock!

    Marsden noted the program comes at the same time universities are raising tuition for those who pay to attend.

    "There's a real disconnect there," Marsden said. "It defies logic."

    Yes, keeping business happy and providing Michigan citizens with jobs "defies logic".

    I guess it would if you are a Republican who needs to prevent those things from happening just so you can have something to complain about. Takes all the fun out of the Granholm bashing if we actually succeed in making this state a better place.

    And as far as the rising tuition rates go... I think we have been over who can do something about that problem, haven't we? 

    Yes, I think we have. I also think we have discovered who is really "disconnected" here, but if they keep saying it... I'll keep pointing it out.