Friday, May 30, 2008

Governor Granholm Returns to Full Schedule

Starting today. You can catch the Guv live from Mackinac at 10am on the Detroit News webcam where she will address the crowd on her agenda to move Michigan forward. Tom Walsh at the Freep had a little preview for us yesterday-

Granholm will ask for specific actions by business leaders in three areas:

• Alternative and renewable energy. She'll ask for help getting an energy package through the Legislature that includes a renewable portfolio standard calling for wind, solar and other nonfossil fuel energy sources to provide 10% of the state's electric power by 2015.

• A better-educated workforce. Graduation standards have been raised; now it's critical to focus on reducing high school dropout rates. She wants to find money to create as many as 100 small high schools and close large failing schools.

• Corrections Department reform. Michigan spends way more than neighboring states on incarcerating criminals. If business leaders can help push through major cuts, Granholm suggested that one-third of the savings could flow directly to business by lowering the state business tax. Another one-third, she said, would go to law enforcement, and one-third to higher education.

Welcome back Governor.

UPDATE: Here is the video of the speech, courtesy of the Detroit News-

Republicans Cry Crocodile Tears Over Taxes They Created

Mike Bishop, that quote machine-

"We're going to challenge this Legislature to do the right thing," said Bishop, R-Rochester.

Bishop and other Republicans are up on the island vowing to fix the surcharge on the MBT once again, trying to placate business and obfuscate the truth on how this all came about in the first place. Gallant Mike issues the "challenge" - too bad he didn't want to "do the right thing" and show some leadership on this issue last year.

We wouldn't be having this conversation now if Republicans had behaved like responsible adults in the first place. Want more proof? If you won't take it from me, the one who pointed this out repeatedly last year, take it from Phil Power, who spells it out for us in a recent column.

A few days ago, I received a lengthy e-mail from a lawmaker (who wishes to remain anonymous) but who offers some valuable insights. Bottom line: "The service tax was the direct result of the brinksmanship of the GOP leadership in negotiations and (the) lack of GOP members (in) responding to the requests of their traditional supporters in the business community."

So, the GOP was intent on playing gotcha politics rather than attend to the needs of business. Go on, Phil -

That's pretty stunning (Ed note: not to those that were paying attention) — and here's my attempt to put this all into context: Leading up to the critical votes, both the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Detroit Chamber tried hard to persuade legislators to pass an income tax increase big enough to cover the entire deficit.

Why? Simple: To avoid additional business taxes. The House of Representative figured it out. There, Democratic Speaker of the House Andy Dillon and other leaders tried repeatedly to pass a 4.7 percent income tax that would have resolved the budget crisis without resorting to the service tax.

But neither of the Republican leaders in the legislature — Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop nor House Minority Leader Craig DeRoche — was willing to step forward. They urged their members to hold back and let the Democrats take the political hit for a vote for more taxes. At one point, it looked as though there were as many as 10 Republican representatives ready to vote for an adequate income tax hike, but DeRoche wouldn't budge.

"Business" needs to know that they were used as pawns in the Republican partisan game - and they also need to question Bishop's sincerity about fixing the problem now. The Senate already tried an irresponsible slash and burn method of cutting the MBT surcharge that was DOA in the House; they just cut revenue without taking responsibility for showing where they would cut spending, which is their standard method of operation. Why? They don't want to be the ones who are tagged with slashing education or health care or prisons or any of the other things that they are so willing to spend all that money on in an attempt to look good to their constituents. They want to have their tax cuts and eat them too.

Most of this might be much ado about nothing anyway. Most businesses received a cut in taxes from the MBT - and others are just now (or in the very near future) figuring out that their liability is not as large as the Republicans are making it out to be.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Thursday she's willing to listen to changes business owners want, as long as they don't jeopardize vital government services by dramatically cutting into state revenue.

But Granholm cautioned that the tax is new and still in its shakedown phase. Cuts in business owners' personal property taxes, for example, won't show up until the July tax cycle, she said.

"They may just not be aware of their tax cuts yet," Granholm said.

So to sum it up, not only are Republicans responsible for this situation that they are now crying loudly about, chances are they are over-exaggerating the ramifications of their mistake and once again trying to use it as a partisan weapon rather than being sincere about tackling the reality of taxes and spending.

The question now is - should business really trust Bishop and Co. to fix something they have repeatedly screwed up? Take a long, hard look at your "friends", business owners, and ask yourself whether they can trusted to do right by you. They are so desperate for "issues" that they have no problem selling you down the river and playing the game of CYA later. It's about time you realized that.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Run Brooks Run!

What I would give to have L. Brooks shooting off his big mouth at other Republicans, especially DeVos. So, so sweet and comical that would be.

It's an interesting rumor coming from an interesting place. The rumors are stemming from the Detroit Regional Chamber, quietly asking media outlets and polling groups to start including Patterson in future polls on the governor's race.

Elected to executive in 1992, Patterson would face the "age issue" at 69 years old. He may also face a money issue if deep-pocketed Dick DeVos takes another run at the top job.

69? Pffft. That is young, unless you want to concede that McCain is too old for the presidency. And Patterson can raise the money. He brags about his connections with business all the time.

C'mon Brooksie, get in the game! You know you want to!

(For the record, I think this is just wishful thinking on the part of the DRC. And myself.)

Helicopter crashes on top of Spectrum Hospital in GR

I was on my way to pick up some lunch when the news broke on the radio, and as I pulled into the parking lot a few miles away from downtown, I could see the thick black smoke fill the sky...

Watch the video when you can. It is breaking up at this point, but it is quite a sight to see.

Fortunately there were no serious injuries from the crash - the pilot and passenger managed to get away before it burst into flames. The top floors of Spectrum are being evacuted and the emergency room is closed to incoming traffic. Eyewitness reports say the chopper was taking off at the time and the back end hit that communications tower and sent it crashing back down to the roof.

I can still smell the smoke outside my house right now - the wind is very light today and it is lingering in the air. Miracle that no one was seriously hurt from this, and the hospital was able to contain the fire...

Legislature Parties While Jobs and Federal Money Slip Away

Detecting a bit of venom in my posting this week? There is a good reason for that. While there is no doubt in my mind that some things are going to be accomplished up on Mackinac and it is good for these people to get together and talk, problems still outweigh solutions and gossip and parties are the order of the day. Not only is Kwame sucking all the oxygen off of the island...

But on the porch of the Grand Hotel, conversation quickly turned to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the eight felony counts against him involving his conduct in office, and the crisis that has griped the city for months.

"It's what people want to talk about," said Detroit Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel, who was flanked by her council staffers.

... we have learned what is really important to the conference attendees.

The issue getting the most support was not about politics, manufacturing or education.

"We have made arrangements with the Grand Hotel that televisions will be available to watch the Red Wings and the Pistons," Leslie Murphy, president of Murphy Consulting and chairwoman of the policy conference, told the roughly 1,700 people who had registered.

Her announcement was met with cheers and applause.

And while Mike Bishop was trying to mislead people on the mess the Senate Republicans have created with the tax situation...

"Yes, we are going to do something," said Bishop, R-Rochester. "There's a lot to be done. It's a new tax and we knew there would have to be adjustments."

... it comes out that due to "legislative bickering", Michigan is going to miss out on millions of dollars in federal money that would have went to airport construction projects.

More than 100 Michigan airports could be on the verge of losing tens of millions of dollars in federal money for improvements because the Legislature remains deadlocked in a game of election-year politics.

At the very least, major projects may be delayed until 2009 since the construction season has been shortened by lawmakers' inability to compromise.

Airports have until Sunday to tell the Federal Aviation Administration their intention to use federal funding to extend runways and make other upgrades. But the airports do not have the money because the Legislature adjourned Wednesday without allocating it and does not plan to return until next week.

How much we talking here? $163 million, $56 million of that is discretionary, meaning the FAA could give it to some other state. Take a look at Wayne County for example.

"We are becoming extremely alarmed about this," said Michael Conway, spokesman for the Wayne County Airport Authority, which operates Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Willow Run Airport. The airports are set to get $59 million in federal funds, $44 million of which could go to other states.

"Here's the federal government willing to give money to a state with a struggling economy," Conway said. "How can you fumble that? It's beyond me how the Legislature can't agree to accept it."

Basically, House Democrats want to include money for college construction projects in the capital outlay budgets, and the Senate won't go along with that. So back and forth they have sent these bills; House members wanting money for their districts in this election year, and Senate Republicans blocking that under the guise of not wanting to "borrow money". Yeah, right. Republicans are all about borrowing the money - what makes them think that people will believe they have suddenly had a change of heart on that front? Mike got one thing right-

"People think we don't know how to run the government," Bishop said.

Gee, Mike, wonder why they would think that. Maybe it's because you can't seem to get anything done. The renewable portfolio standard and energy bills, the Great Lakes water compact, the smoking bill, these capital outlay budgets, all left undone while you guys live it up and at the same time have the audacity to complain about the state of the Michigan economy.

It's simply more obstruction and stalling on the part of the Senate - as I've said before, Republicans need things to be bad in Michigan. They have no interest in progress or helping the citizens of Michigan; lack of action creates more problems and therefore election issues for them to use. It costs us everyday in money and jobs; these airport projects are just one example.

Have fun at the party. We'll be waiting when you get back.

Right to Life Withholds Endorsement of Dillon, Democrats

Oh Andy. I hate it when you have to learn these things the hard way.

Seems Right to Life didn't get everything they wanted, so they are going to screw over Dillon and the other Democrats by delaying or withholding endorsements for the fall elections.

Right to Life is upset that Democratic House leaders have not yet held a vote on a companion bill that would spell out sentencing guidelines. Although the main bill notes the possible penalties — up to two years in prison with fines of up to $50,000 — supporters of the companion bill say putting the penalties in the state's criminal code with sentencing guidelines would allow for more consistent, uniform punishment.

RtL also didn't like it that the House held the emergency contraception vote either. Surprised?

But Right to Life wasn't happy that the House voted on two bills related to contraception soon after it approved the partial birth abortion ban, without taking up the partial birth companion bill.

So now they are going to punish the Democrats by making them compete for the endorsement - but not so with Republicans.

Technically, no House member up for re-election has been endorsed by Right to Life for the 2008 election cycle. Until this week, the organization says, there was no House voting record upon which to base an endorsement.

Right to Life isn't punishing House Republicans, who can expect their Right to Life endorsements soon. But it's not as clear cut for Democrats, although Rivet said the organization continues to have a positive relationship with lawmakers who have supported its goals.

The group has sent questionnaires to rivals of previously endorsed Democratic lawmakers so they can compete for the group's stamp of approval. Right to Life hasn't sent similar questionnaires to rivals of sitting Republican lawmakers who previously earned an endorsement.

Do you get it now, Democrats? No good comes from bargaining with extremists whose members are probably going to vote Republican anyway.

Don't make me yell about this again. Now that you know what you are dealing with, act accordingly in the future, OK? OK. Let's get back to the important issues now.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Truly a Sad Day in the Michigan Legislature"

How many times have we heard that uttered in the past year? Bowing to the pressure of special interests and their extremist agenda, House Democrats caved in and allowed a vote on the partial birth abortion legislation yesterday - handing the Republicans a campaign issue on a silver platter, dividing the Democratic caucus, and proving once again that they will allow themselves to be bullied into following the wishes of the radical right. Instead of working on jobs and the economy, you know, the things that people REALLY care about, they wasted all this time on legislation that faces veto. Again. The measure passed 74-32.

"We don't support this legislation and have vetoed similar legislation in the past," said Liz Boyd, Granholm's press secretary. "We continue to be concerned about the health of the mother."

The bill would only allow the practice if the childbirth threatens the mother's life.

Republicans act like this is the be-all, end-all issue facing our state, throwing terms like "brutal murder" around, distorting the facts on how often this procedure is used - here's DeRoche last week -

"Everyday that this partial birth abortion ban doesn't move is another threat to Michigan's future generations."

And here is the truth, Rep. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor -

"This is truly a sad day in the Michigan Legislature," she said. "We're interfering with a private decision between a woman and her doctor. And we're letting special interests dictate our legislative agenda."

She cited state records that indicated there were no partial-birth abortions performed in the state in 2006, 2007 and the first few months of this year.

For a list of the Democrats who voted for this exercise in "political manipulation" - check here. And this supposed "trade-off" on emergency contraception wasn't really a trade at all; look at the numbers on that vote-

In a possible tradeoff Tuesday, the House also voted on a measure that would give women who are sexually assaulted information about and access to emergency contraception. One of the measures passed by a 57-51 vote and now goes to the Senate.

Did Democrats really think the Republicans would suddenly find sanity and put up some votes on this issue? Never. Why? They don't bargain. You would think that Dillon would have learned that lesson last year. The excuses were already being spewed last week as the Republicans prove that they will continue to push this until choice is outlawed altogether - DeRoche again -

"I think they (pro-choice Democrats) want to move four or five pro-choice bills in exchange — but not call them pro-choice bills," DeRoche said. "We're supposed to call them contraceptive bills, but they're pro-choice bills. They're sort of saying that if the Catholic Church would just change its policy on birth control by Tuesday they'll move our bill."

Congratulations Speaker Dillon. We have to conclude that you were in Rivet's pocket all along, and that you will do his bidding whenever he threatens you. You will bow to extremists on the right. That's not what we want in a leader. The voters in your district will decide your return to the House, but perhaps the job of Speaker would be better suited for someone who can stand strong against the Republicans and point out the facts when they try to use wedge issues such as this in the future - because now that they know you will back down in the face of their threats, they will be sure to use them again and again.

Senate Republicans Vote To Stiff Your Community

You didn't really need those cops and firefighters, did you?

The state Senate narrowly voted today to strip a 4 percent increase in state revenue sharing for local governments from a spending bill for next year.

Senate Republicans, who control the chamber, argued that the state doesn't have the money to grant the proposed $61 million increase in funding, which municipalities use for police and fire protection, road repairs, garbage pickup and other services.

Those fightin' Senate Dems have done their best to ward off the cuts, but they don't have the numbers to stop the Republicans who will pass this on to your town. A news release from the Dem Caucus spells out the details -

The Legislature has cut $3 billion for these services over the last few years, resulting in 4,000 fewer police and firefighters in Michigan since 2001. The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards recently released a report stating arrests are down, violent crime is rising, and Michigan citizens are waiting longer than ever for police assistance due to understaffing caused by these cuts. Last week mayors, police chiefs, and fire chiefs from across the state came to the Capitol to plead for support of the Senate Democrats’ proposed increase in public safety funding.

“We have been forced to cut our budgets year after year and provide the same services with less. We have done this, but we can’t do it for much longer,” said Holland Mayor Al McGeehan, president of the Michigan Association of Mayors. “Additional cuts will continue to threaten public safety, our ability to plow and repair streets, and other services residents expect and deserve.”

And here in Grand Rapids, the results of those revenue sharing cuts are part of the squeeze on our city budget. Seven firefighters might lose their jobs, city employees have not had a raise or a contract since 2006, and domestic abuse shelters are looking at radically reduced funding at a time when need is growing.

Some of the most compelling testimony came from supporters for the YWCA's Domestic Crisis Center, who said hard economic times have increased the risk of abuse for women and children.

"Now is not the time to undercut capacity," said Dr. Barbara Wynn, an emergency-room doctor who said the YWCA offers some women their only escape from abuse.

Other pleas came from supporters of Senior Neighbors Inc. and the Hispanic Center of West Michigan, which operates a center for at-risk youth.

Hope there are some mayors up on the island this weekend. Might want to hunt down your local Senate Republican and spit in his or her drink.

EPIC Poll: Obama/Clinton 51%, McCain/Romney 44%

Some wild and wacky numbers on the newest EPIC/MRA poll. When asked to choose between Obama and McCain alone - more people would vote for McCain, but the majority think Obama is going to win the election. Go figure. Here are the numbers on the head to head-

35% Vote for Barack Obama
5% Lean toward Barack Obama
40% Total Obama

40% Vote for John McCain
4% Lean toward John McCain
44% Total McCain

16% Undecided/Don't know/Refused

But it becomes 38%-31% Obama when people were asked who they think is going to be the next president.

53% think Obama should pick someone other than Hillary, but when asked to vote for a potential Obama/Clinton ticket over a McCain/Romney ticket, it breaks down like this-

44% Vote for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
7% Lean toward Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
51% Obama/Clinton

42% Vote for John McCain and Mitt Romney
2% Lean toward John McCain and Mitt Romney
44% McCain/Romney

5% Undecided/Don't know/Refused

What does all this mean? Absolutely nothing, but the numbers people can have some fun.

Follow the link above to see Bush approval numbers (not good), Granholm approval numbers (at least it's better than Bush), right track/wrong track/Michigan economy numbers, and what people think we should do about Kwame.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

McCain to Begin TV Ads in Michigan

Won't somebody think of the children?

Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign said today it will air its first general-election television ads in Michigan this week, kicking off its effort to peel Michigan from the Democratic column with a focus on the economy.

The 30-second ad will air in Michigan and Pennsylvania. The campaign did not release details on the size of the advertising buy. But for weeks, McCain has been airing ads in key general-election states, hoping to capitalize on his ability to focus on the fall while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton continue to compete for the Democratic nomination.

Republicans smell an opening here. Polls show the race close - and one very strange recent poll shows a lot of confused voters. 29 percent undecided? Would love to know how the question was worded.

The survey also showed Republican presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain with a four-point lead over leading Democratic contender U.S. Sen. Barack Obama

According to the survey, 38 percent of likely voters said they'd vote for McCain if the election were held on the day they were asked the question, while 34 percent said they'd vote for Obama. The remaining 29 percent didn't know, weren't sure or gave some other response.

Time to refresh those channel surfing abilities. Start your finger exercises now so you will be in shape when all the others start and we are faced with wall-to-wall political advertising. Better yet, turn off the TV and go outside!

A Proposition for the Schauer Campaign

Mark Who?We have to work on Mark's name recognition, right? Well, I had a grand idea over the weekend. Hear me out. It's a winner.

All you have to do is get me a few more t-shirts, a box seat at Comerica in the line of sight of a television camera, an apartment near downtown (because that would be cheaper than driving everyday) and a small expense account for food and such - and I will attend every Tiger game for the rest of the year parading around like a walking billboard with Schauer's name on me.

Over 42,000 people a game, not to mention the thousands watching at home. Can't beat it for visual impact.

It would be a major sacrifice on my part, attending all those games and spending the summer in the big city, but it is one I'm willing to make for the cause. That's just the kind of girl I am.

Think it over. You know where to find me.

The Race For 2010 Starts... Now!

Actually, it starts this weekend at the Detroit Regional Chamber's policy conference at Mackinac Island. All the pretty show ponies will prance around at the various lavish parties as they shmooze and booze and line-up political and financial support to position themselves for a race that will start in earnest at midnight, Nov. 5th, 2008.

We have entered the age of the endless campaign, and the endless fundraising it takes to run a campaign in this day and age. Remember, it's not about your qualifications or what you have accomplished, or what your plans are for your time in office - it's all about lining up the money, honey. And don't you ever forget it.

At least seven Democrats and 10 Republicans are said to be pondering a run. The names run from the familiar -- former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, Lt. Gov. John Cherry, Ficano, Speaker of the House Andy Dillon and U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak on the Democratic side and Republicans DeVos, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, Attorney General Mike Cox, U.S. Reps. Candice Miller, Mike Rogers and Peter Hoekstra, state Sen. Mike Bishop and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard.

Then there's the more unfamiliar possibilities -- like Flint Mayor Donald Williamson, Domino's Pizza Chief Executive Officer David Brandon and Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee.

"Everybody wants to get in early and they want to get out front to build support," said Ed Sarpolus, a veteran pollster who now works for the Michigan Education Association. "They're all going to be vying for attention."

Most of the names on the list make your skin crawl - even some on the Dem side. Let's save that knife fight for later, shall we? Instead, let's laugh at the Republicans, because that's infinitely more fun.

If they had any brains in their head, they would run Terri Lynn Land. She is the only one who can come close to passing herself off as a moderate; by the time 2010 rolls around, and, assuming there is any justice in the political world (which is probably an incorrect assumption), Brand Bush Conservative Republicans will be thoroughly discredited and back on the fringe of the political landscape - but you won't be able to convince DeVos of that. The guy is as stubborn as he is clueless, and if he wants to run, he will drive everyone else off the field once again with his ability to self-finance his campaign.

For 2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos, the conference is a reminder that he is a formidable prospect at least partly because of his ability and willingness to pour millions of his own dollars into his campaign. DeVos spent more than $35 million of his own money in his losing bid two years ago.

"I just don't see anyone willing to invest in the amount of fund-raising that they would have to do to challenge him if he gets in," said Lansing political consultant Craig Ruff.

Not only that, no one can come close to the mud-slinging tactics of mastermind Betsy and the others that would hired by Team DeVos to destroy the competition. Dick wants to play, watch the others slink away into subservience to the owners of the Michigan Republican Party. Or, we could watch the whole thing go up in flames as they fight each other over the next two years. A Hoekstra - DeVos throw down might be particularly entertaining.

As far as the tally on the bank accounts at this point (minus DeVos), Candice Miller has the lead with $1.1 million stashed away. She won't be at the conference - can't figure out whether that is an astute move or political suicide; a lot of this is all speculation at this time, of course. Second on the list is Bob Ficano at $885,000 - and, in a move that is sure to bring up your breakfast, he has hired John Truscott to help with fund-raising. As far as the others-

Other potential gubernatorial candidates with big war chests from both campaign funds and political action committees include: Rogers with $660,993; Stupak with $480,029; Hoekstra with $347,143; Dillon with $260,022; Bouchard with $212,005; Bishop with $157,578; and Cherry with $152,651.

So, while all you politicians preen your feathers and count your coffers and court the lobbyists at your grand getaway this coming weekend, try to keep in mind the people out here that are struggling with mortgage foreclosures and job losses and soaring food and energy prices. You know, the people you supposedly serve - because right now, we hate your guts.

"I don't see this conference as a debutante's ball," Ruff said. "There is so much dismay with politics and politicians right now that it wouldn't necessarily serve the interests of the politicians this year to have fund-raisers. Business people are just appalled by what's happened in the last year whether ... the inaction in Lansing or the problems with" Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The legiscritters are leaving early this week to attend this shindig, leaving the energy bill, the water compact, the budget, countless other things that would help the "struggling families" of Michigan, unfinished, as they run off to party hearty.

What the heck, you can wait a bit longer, can't you?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wings Tiger

Wings Tiger

Baby's first trip to Comerica Park. More pics coming later - just woke up, still looking through them... check here to see as I keep adding to the finished set.

Might be heading to the Whitecaps game later today, but it looks like we might be rained out. As cool as Comerica is (part shopping village, part amusement park, part baseball stadium, all fun, and I can't wait to go back someday), I think I prefer the relaxed atmosphere and intimacy of my hometown minor league stadium.

So glad that spring is finally here.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day 2007 Oakhill Cemetery Grand Rapids version 2

Moment of remembrance at 3PM today.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Have You Seen Me Lately?

... after the week I've had, I decided some self-indulgent bullshit from Adam Duritz was in order...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Recall signatures on Dillon fall short

While I'm not very happy with Speaker Dillon at the moment for other reasons (gives Andy the evil eye, we will talk about that next week), I am happy to see that the Pigman Drolet was told to go wee wee wee all the way home, at least for today.

Although the determination is not final until June 5th, Leon was just a tad short on valid signatures in what we can now tag his "ill-fated" recall attempt. And given that he turned in well over 15,000 and around half of them were invalid, we can determine that he was pretty sloppy about the ordeal as well.

(Get it? Pig? Sloppy? Ha ha.)

Results of the preliminary findings are as follows:

Total number of valid signatures required – 8,724

Total number of signatures filed – 15,739

Result of face review – 14,659 face valid signatures; 1,080 invalid signatures.

Result of registration verifications – 4,417 signatures discounted under signer registration verifications; 2,018 signatures discounted under circulator registration verifications.

Summary of initial petition review – 8,224 signatures accepted; 7,515 invalid signatures.

Terri Lynn was very thorough, I'm sure, but my guess is that Drolet will challenge the results anyway. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Ooooo, Leon was naughty too. From my good friends at the MDP-

Thousands of signatures were excluded because the supposed signers were not registered voters. In fact, it turned out that eight of the alleged signers were actually dead, and it appears that these are only a few of the thousands of signatures which were clearly forged. Challenges regarding these forgeries are being filed today.

BLTs for everyone!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let's clear up a few things

First of all, my thanks go out to those who have stood up to defend my work and BFM. I am very grateful for your support. Those that have been around the Michigan blogosphere know exactly how much I have put into this for well over two years now, and I appreciate you speaking up for me.

I've been trying to figure out exactly what to say about all of this. I've seen so many things printed as fact that are blatantly false - and I was left to try to prove a negative. I also had to resist the impulse to lash out at other blogs and bloggers. Just not my style, not in public anyway. I feel it's totally uncool to "eat your own". Anyway-

Misconception number one - I am not being paid by Jennifer Granholm. Funny how just one front-pager from ML can say that I work for the GLF and it becomes "common knowledge" when most all the others are saying very nice things about me. And when my disclosure is a click of a button away on the "About BFM" page, and was made long ago in some post somewhere on this blog, and no one bothers to research that before they publish their "facts", well, the best I can offer on that is - search the Michigan Secretary of State records that are online. You won't find me listed on the GLF PAC because I am not being paid by them. As far as the consulting gig goes, I would have put it on any posts I made about the MDP - but I haven't posted directly about the MDP since well before I got the gig. (As far as the speed of my reply – I had internet issues all day yesterday. Comcast was out most of the day, and my laptop cannot load Soap blogs at the coffee house for shit. I got the Kennedy thing up and that was all she wrote. No idea why that is happening)

Which leads me to the primary issue, which seems to be the excuse du jour as to why we were picked for credentials over ML. I posted my feelings on the primary in this diary. Take the time to read it - it explains exactly why I generally avoided the whole thing. (I also called the MDP the "Detroit Lions of political parties" somewhere on this blog, and quite frankly, I can't think of a bigger slam than that) I also called for a re-vote well before Clinton and Granholm did - that was in direct opposition to what Granholm was saying at the time. They followed me about a month or so later. Again, go read to know the reasons why.

A true Granholm shill would have been supporting Hillary, obviously. Out of the "big four", I liked Edwards best and said so - although I could find positives and negatives about all of them. Really don't want to get into that fight, like the diary said. Moving on...

Mark BrewerMisconception number two - I am not a member of the MDP. Again, I can't prove a negative, but I can show you this lovely picture of how Mark Brewer looks at me. I don't really know how he feels about bloggers - I do know that the MDP was not happy with me last year when I was kicking the crap out of Andy Dillon over the budget battles. Funny thing about that is - Andy was OK with it. He likes the challenge. I hunted him down at the State of the State Address, and he had a smile and a handshake for me. Brewer, I honestly don't know. Tell you the truth, I don't much care.

Our accomplishments as a blog speak for themselves. This isn't just about me, as some are insinuating- it is what we have accomplished as a group. If people want to ignore the great things we have done to focus on popularity contests and blog drama, there isn't anything I can do about that. All I can do is continue my work - a massive body of writing at BFM and my own blog that stretches back to 2003 - and well before that at a political forum at Wizardkitten has been around for a long, long time.

And one last thing. I am a proud supporter of Jennifer Granholm. Very proud. She is the only reason I came back to "community" blogging, and anyone who has read me these past two and a half years on Michigan blogs knows that. I don't support everything she does, of course - wasn't happy about the primary behavior, really not thrilled about the Kennecott mine situation, and there have been a few other things here and there over time - but overall, she's mine and I'm hers. And I really don't care how other bloggers feel about that. I'm not here to be popular with the “in crowd”, or I would have sockpuppeted or just stayed silent like so many others have. She is an amazing woman, and I am so grateful she is our governor.

Quite frankly, if I published everything I have been through in my time in the Michigan blogosphere, you would be astonished that I haven't flamed out by now. Might make a great book someday.

And whenever you guys are ready to fight Republicans, just let me know. I'll be here, firing away at them as usual. I would be really happy if you could tear yourselves away from Democratic infighting and help me out.

Thank again to those that have supported me with your kind words and thoughts. It brought tears to my eyes more than once yesterday, and I am forever grateful.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sen. Kennedy has malignant brain tumor

No words.

Doctors for the Massachusetts Democrat say tests conducted after Kennedy suffered a seizure this weekend show a tumor in his left parietal lobe. Preliminary results from a biopsy of the brain identified the cause of the seizure as a malignant glioma, they said.

His treatment will be decided after more tests but the usual course includes combinations of radiation and chemotherapy.

Perspective rushes in once again. Prayers to the Senator and his family.

I (heart) Comcast. Not.

So, I'm trying to get some work done, and boom!, out goes Comcast. Again. Pack up the laptop and head on out to the Kava House. Hey, I needed an excuse to get a delicious French Quarter iced coffee anyway.

Click on the AP wire (because God forbid I should be without the news for ten minutes) and lo and behold, this pops up-

Customer satisfaction ratings for Comcast Corp. fell this year to an all-time low and rank at the bottom of cable and satellite TV providers, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

As consumers' happiness with cable and satellite TV rose as a whole, the nation's largest cable TV operator lost ground, according to the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index. The index has tracked the group since 2001.

And before you start laughing, O, better check this out-

Comcast, whose service so infuriated a Virginia grandmother she took a hammer to a local Comcast office, tied with struggling Charter Communications for last place.

Watch out for the grandmas bearing hammers. Check the backseat before you drive away.

To give a little credit here, I did get through right away, the customer service rep was very polite and helpful - but still, at these prices I shouldn't have this many outages. If only I could get reimbursed for this coffee...

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Grass Is Not Greener In Indiana

Just recently, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels came to Michigan, touting how wonderful it was for business down there, talking about the billboards they were running to pitch some woo at Michigan businesses to "come on down!", and the comedy team of DeRoche & Bishop and all their fans made googly eyes at the red-state governor and dreamed of how wonderful life would be if we just could be like Indiana.

Daniels said he did not come to prescribe solutions for Michigan. But “maybe there is something in the approaches that we have taken, that you can learn from, or re-learn,” he said.

DeRoche, in introducing Daniels, said he hopes “we can gain from your knowledge and successes … as we’re trying to improve our economy in Michigan.” Bishop described himself as “a huge fan” of Daniels and said he has sought to borrow some of Daniels’ ideas.

Would one of those ideas be higher taxes, Mike? Some of the highest in the nation? According to the GR Press - Indiana business is not happy with Daniels new tax scheme.

Indiana's taxes have just changed substantially and, according to that state's chamber of commerce, business and industry did not come out ahead.

Like Michigan, Indiana lawmakers were busy last winter shuffling the tax cards. Responding to the howls of homeowners about high and unpredictable property taxes, Gov. Mitch Daniels and the legislature had laid out a sweeping change by spring.

The bottom line: Property taxes, especially for home owners, were slashed, and, as of April 1, the state sales tax was boosted to 7 percent from 6 percent. That places Indiana's sales tax among the highest in the nation, exceeded only by California at 7.25 percent.

Groceries and prescriptions are exempt, but Indiana is one of only a few states that levies sales tax on gasoline, on top of the state and federal gas taxes that go toward roads.

Indiana also levies a corporate income tax of 8.5 percent, which even an Indiana Chamber of Commerce spokesman called "fairly high."

Perhaps we should start to post our own billboards at the border. We have already lured a refrigerator manufacturer to Greenville, surely there are others that might want to consider a change of scenery.

And if Bishop and DeRoche are that crazy about Mitch, they might want to get on down to the Hoosier state and help Daniels with his re-election campaign. Seems he is in a bit of hot water.

A poll conducted for the Indianapolis Star just before the primary election showed that Long Thompson really lacked name recognition but still was 1 percentage point ahead of Daniels in a test match-up. In other words, a whole lot of voters were saying: "I don't know this Jill What'sHerName, but I'd rather have her than Mitch as my governor."

A poll conducted for The Tribune also showed a tie between Long Thompson and Daniels.

While a poll for Howey Politics Indiana showed Daniels doing much better in a match-up and in popularity, it also contained danger signs for the governor, with only 47 percent saying they favored re-election of Daniels and with a significant percentage saying Indiana is on the wrong track.

Michigan Republicans - not content with their own losers, they have to go out-of-state to find new ones. We will be happy to loan out Mike and Craig to help with the effort - it will be nice to have more "blue" neighbors.

Recent Laugh Out Loud Moments From the Michigan Republicans

More sidesplitting hilarious hypocrisy from the Goopers. First - knowing that they couldn't attack the Obama-Edwards rally with any success, they decided to go after Jon Stryker to try to raise money from their dispirited and probably a bit confused base.

Here is your "It's OK If You're A Republican" moment of cognitive dissonance from Bill Nowling-

Spend $15 to stop a billionaire," reflected the "high-volume, low-dollar" trend of online fundraising, a technique the Obama campaign has mastered. Republicans say the $5 million Stryker spent to help Democratic candidates and causes in 2006 played a large role in giving Dems control of the state House. They say this time he's coming after conservative state Supreme Court Justice Clifford Taylor, the only justice up for election this year. "If he (Stryker) succeeds -- the Court will be a rubber stamp for his extreme, anti-family agenda," the mailing said.

But it was fine with the Republicans when their own billionaire, Dick "The Biggest Loser" DeVos spent $35.5 million of his money to buy the governor's office. We don't even need to get into the part about the "extreme, anti-family agenda"; Republicans wrote the book on that.

The mind reels.

Watch how the Republicans are picking up on the Dems tactics and talking points though. We will probably see this a lot this year. Not only are they targeting lower dollar donations like the Dems, they are picking up on the catch phrases as well. Concerning the recent '09 revenue projections and budget reductions, House member Bruce Caswell (R- Term Limited) had this to say-

"We have to downsize in an intelligent and reasonable matter the state government that we have while protecting our most vulnerable citizens but realizing our taxpayers can't continue to pay more taxes every year to keep the government we have," Caswell said. "It's a simple concept and it's doesn't have to be slash-and-burn."

And then he pointed to welfare benefits as one area to look at, because single mothers still don't qualify as "vulnerable citizens" in the eyes of the GOP. Also, someone mentioned the Earned Income Tax Credit. Although a party wasn't specified, since the idea originated with Cassis, you can probably guess which side of the aisle that came from.

Republicans has no problem suggesting "slash and burn" last year, but when it came time to put their vote where their mouth is, they wouldn't do it. This year, the tune will change as they scramble to try to re-brand themselves - even when those attempts re-branding go beyond belief.

Watch and see. The "vulnerable citizens" this year may very well turn out to be GOP strategists.

Erik Prince: Blackwater is a "robust temp agency"

I think I'm going to throw up now. Care to join me?

Speaking today before the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Prince, 38, maintained that private contractors have been a part of U.S. military history since the founding of the republic.

"They have been there all through history," Prince said. He bankrolled Blackwater with advice from a fellow Navy SEAL, using part of a $1.35 billion inheritance that followed the 1995 death of his father, Holland industrialist Edgar Prince.

"I had the unusual ability to write a check to do this," said the often-reclusive Prince. Security was unusually tight at the event, and the company requested that the speech not be taped or photographed.

Besides the bazillions of taxpayer dollars Prince has made, there were a few things Erik didn't mention in the speech-

It came under intense scrutiny in September after Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad shooting incident that remains under investigation.

Blackwater is not expected to face criminal charges in the incident. A seven-month old Justice Department investigation is focused on Blackwater guards involved in the shootings.

And there is this-

Prince also did not mention the 2004 crash in Afghanistan of a Blackwater plane that killed three U.S. soldiers. A subsequent investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board cited Presidential Airways, a subsidiary of Blackwater, and its pilots for a series of mistakes and management oversights.

Blackwater also came under fire for an incident in December 2006, in which a Blackwater guard shot and killed a security guard to the Iraqi vice president.

According to an account from the U.S. House Oversight Committee, witnesses reported the Blackwater guard was drunk and fired several shots, striking the Iraqi guard three times before fleeing the scene.

Heck, they are temps. Can't be held responsible.

"We are essentially a robust temp agency," Prince said, adding that the firm will be fired if it doesn't do its job.

It's the DeVos model. Ask the people at Alticor Amway.

Bourquin To 3rd

Bourquin To 3rd

Ronnie Bourquin heads for 3rd in the Whitecaps 6-3 victory over the Lugnuts last Friday night. I finally took a look at my pictures this morning - events of last week left me simply exhausted and I had to step away from the computer a bit and try to get back in balance. That may be impossible in the business, and eventually I'm going to have to make some decisions on whether this a healthy place for me to be or not.

Quite frankly, the party infighting between the Clinton and Obama supporters has done more to turn me off to politics than the Republicans could ever do. BOTH sides better face the facts - you had better find a way to come together, or we will lose this election. And if we do...

But Dan says not to whine, so I'll just stuff these emotions until I have a great big blow-up instead. He's no fun. ;-)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hello GR Press Readers

I would like to thank the GR Press for their story featuring Blogging For Michigan being selected to cover the Democratic National Convention this August. It's quite an honor for us, and we are thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to do it. Another chance to be "present for history", as it were.

Although the story featured me for the West Michigan angle, I couldn't have done it alone! BFM is a community blog covering Michigan politics and policy from a progressive viewpoint, but we offer up some variety as well - covering Michigan tourism and events, minor league baseball (that's me!), new business and technology, financial issues, progressive religious issues - we hope to expand the scope of "political" blogging to include other stories and interests happening in our state.

Check us out at Blogging For Michigan. Sign up for a free account and add your two cents in on the issues, or write a diary featuring your cause, event, or viewpoint. One rule though - we are a progressive community. Trolls need not apply.

Here at wizardkitten, my focus is mainly on my photography and more personal musings - and to be honest, it gets neglected a bit as I spend the majority of my time writing at BFM and providing news round-ups at Only so many hours in the day!

Thanks for taking the time to read!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Being Present For History

Edwards Obama 1006"Here? John Edwards is going to be here?"

I looked at WOOD TV's Brian Sterling in disbelief, jaw dropped open...

"Did you go live with it already?"

He nodded.

Damn, can't break a story. Oh well, I didn't bring the laptop anyway. I did put in a call to "headquarters" and told Christine what was going on. I could barely hear her over the music blasting through the arena and the murmur of the crowd animal, who at this point did not know this would be happening.

They are going to love this. I just smiled.

Edwards Obama 1053And oh, did they ever. I'm a veteran of many rock concerts, have had my ears blasted out before by the yells and the cheers and the music - and this crowd didn't disappoint. The place erupted when Obama came on in the first place, and managed to get even louder when Edwards walked out. The arena was charged to begin with, and this ramped up the energy to a spectacular level. I know it sounds cliche', but you could feel it running through you. you really could.

I was almost in tears, part of the reason I had a hard time getting shots of the two together at first. Between the rocking of the riser and my hands literally shaking (and no monopod to steady the camera in the low light), for the most part they were blurred. Damn.

Before the ShowI'm not a reporter and I really don't try to be. Sure I could take notes, get quotes, hit the main highlights of what was said, but that isn't how I operate. I'm feeling it, rather than trying to report it or intellectualize it. I parse all that later. It was a campaign speech, and they are what they are. Rally points for the faithful, and it's all good, but I listen with a jaundiced ear because I know it's about the hope, and the reality usually turns out to be a different result in the end.

I love being a photographer for selfish reasons - I love to record history. Trying to capture the moment, get "the shot", something I feel I failed at last night (and why I expect to beat the folks that carry around more equipment than my net worth, I dunno, but that is where I love to compete) - but I did manage to get a few good ones. Check them out here.

The main thing was being there. Just being there. If you would have told me back in January that Edwards would endorse Obama at the frickin' Van Andel, I would have laughed my head off. And yet, here we are.

Six Lonely Protesters Starting from the beginning. Six protesters stood in front of the arena with signs such as "My pastor isn't a racist" and whatever - I give them credit for bravery. Six against thousands, they weren't going to get far. Don't know if they made the media (besides now). Don't really care. I think the Republicans are doomed this fall. I walked on.

Obama Time T-ShirtThe line. Holy cow, look at the line. It stretched all the way down the block (and it's a BIG block), around the back, and to the street on the opposite corner. They even started a line down a side street. All shapes and forms and ages of life, and they were all smiling and excited and laughing, having a blast even though they were standing in probably the longest line I have ever seen in my life. The vendors were out hawking the Obama stuff, and people gladly snapped it up. Oh yeah, this guy is a rock star, no doubt.

I made my way to the security entrance, no problem getting in. Name on the list, here is your press pass, get the stuff searched and the body wanded. The security dude thought it was fun to take pictures of me while he was checking my camera. Ha ha. Delete. They were all very friendly, polite, seemed to be happy to be there. That was great, nasty security can be such a downer.

Wandered in to the floor of the arena and into the press corral, chatted with some other photogs, drooled over their equipment, and started to just soak it all in. This was really happening. Pinch myself. They let the crowd in soon after, and just like a rock concert, they ran across the floor to try to get close to the stage. Part of me was envious of them; I wasn't allowed to leave the pen (although after it was over I did, and got yelled at by the Secret Service. Oops.)

Van Andel Arena FillsTime passed quickly, watched WOOD do their live shots for the five and six o'clock news. Watched the place fill to capacity. And then they surprised me by starting early, which turns out was actually late (they meant to go at 6:15), but I was thinking "7pm", so it kind of caught me off-guard. Guess they wanted to make the national news. Wise political move.

You saw what happened from there. I furiously clicked clicked clicked away, not really stopping to check what I was getting, just go! Made it up to the tall riser, should have stayed there, but tried to move for different angles. Burned through 3 gigs on the cards.

Edwards 989Impressions - Edwards. Edwards being Edwards. Love that guy. Tried to listen as I was shooting; that is hard because my head is in a totally different space. He smiles. I melt. Still shocked that he is even here.

Obama 1125Obama - serious. I was struck by how serious, how presidential he looked during the speech. The man is on a mission, the man has a plan. I think of the complete and total mess the Republicans have made of things, and wonder if he will be saddled with what I have come to call the "Granholm Syndrome"; take over a system that is broken and fiscally broke, and everybody and their brother runs at you with their hands out, begging for relief, and then gets pissed off when you don't instantly deliver. It might be easier at the federal level because they just print the money up there, but have things ever been this damaged before in my lifetime?

Good luck, Senator Obama, I think to myself.

One last impression of the speeches - what really struck me was the total kiss-up to Hillary and her supporters. Very, very smart. If there is a person that can heal this division, Barack can do it, and I think he will. Clinton will help. I don't believe the "she will destroy the party to run in 2012" rumor. She is too smart for that.

A magical night, right here in my hometown. So, so glad I could be there. Very surreal to come home and flip on the cable news, and there was an event in Grand Rapids being featured. Yea for us. Hope we did good. I think we did.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This morning at Van Andel Arena...

Morning Line Van Andel
Morning thunderstorms followed by a steady drizzle is keeping the crowd down at this point, but the line is starting to form. I checked in with Van Andel security (very nice folks) who informed me that the media check-in time is 4PM, around the back of the building at the security entrance. So far they are not set-up yet, so no need to rush on down there. As far as parking goes - good luck. There is parking across the street and parking behind the arena, but due to the timing of this, you are going to be competing with downtown workers who still will be parked there when you arrive. I'm close enough that I might just walk downtown from my house.

I applied for photography credentials, and so far no one has contacted me to tell me "no" (which the website indicated they would do). So, keep your fingers crossed that I get them - if I don't, I probably won't make it in because the line by 4 will be enormous, and I can't stand in it if I have to be at another entrance. No live- blogging (from me anyway) because I don't plan to try to lug the laptop around - I will concentrate on the photos and then come home and process and post later.

Wish me luck.

BFM Selected To Cover Democratic National Convention

We are very honored and very grateful for this historic opportunity.

"Similar to the record-breaking voter turnout our Party has seen during the primary season, the demand for these coveted blogger positions is yet another indicator of the tremendous interest in this historic Convention," said Governor Dean. "The Internet has played a critical role in connecting Americans to elected officials and candidates seeking office. The DemConvention State Blogger Corps will continue to foster this dialogue - in all 50 of our states and our territories too - as we head towards this year's historic election and elect a Democrat to the White House."

The DNCC previously announced an expansion of the credentialed blogger pool from past Conventions and the addition of a state blogger credentialing program. As part of the new DemConvention State Blogger Corps, designed for bloggers covering state and local politics, bloggers will receive unparalleled access to state delegations and the floor of the Convention hall. In a truly unprecedented move, the DNCC will seat these bloggers with their respective delegations during the historic four-day event, providing even greater access for local coverage and perspective. Highlights from these blogs will also be featured on in the lead up to and during the Convention.

For a full list of the 50 state blogs selected - click here.

Thanks go out to the Democratic National Convention Committee for selecting us - we will do our best to make Michigan proud!

UPDATE: Here is the video that Howard Dean sent out.

Budget '09: Will Republicans still call for more tax cuts?

Excuse me a moment while I go find a new place on the sidewalk to beat my head on. Revenue forecasts for '09 are starting to emerge - and it ain't pretty, but it should stop the call for more tax cuts. How can you call to reduce revenue when you are looking at almost a half a billion shortfall?

Knowing the Republicans, they will find a way. Fiscal responsibility isn't their strong suit.

Despite predictions that Michigan's economy would begin to recover in 2009, fiscal experts now believe state revenues will be more than $400 million short of their forecast.

The state Treasury will take in $19 million less than initially forecast this year and $434 million less in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 -- even after last year's increases in income and business taxes, according to a report Tuesday by the House Fiscal Agency. That means lawmakers will have less to spend as they debate next year's budget, but overall spending still will be about $50 million more than this year.

Which lawmaker wants to step up and cut schools, safety, health care, etc and so on, in an election year? Remember, what you do can and will be used against you this fall - and that puts these guys between a rock and a hard place, unless they can come up with some more magical one-time fixes and shifts in book keeping. Which they probably will.

The state's general fund and school aid fund total $20.6 billion this year, so the $19 million shortfall won't drastically impact current year spending. But lawmakers, who haven't yet adopted a 2008-09 spending plan, will have to scale back their expectations for that budget. Original projections for next year's revenues totaled $21.06 billion, compared to the revised $20.63 billion.

The lower revenue projected for this year would reduce the anticipated surplus from $259 million to about $240 million. Most of that surplus, state officials say, has already been spoken for.

Thank the Bush economy for our shortfall - the national recession is going to pull us under just as we started to get our head above the water.

The state's gloomier financial picture is chiefly due to:

• A languishing national economy further dragging down Michigan's.

• The federal tax break received by businesses as part of President Bush's economic stimulus package. Because the new state business levy is linked to federal business income, the state will lose about $100 million in revenue.

• A new, 40 percent credit to spur film production in Michigan that will cost the state's general fund about $100 million.

• Reductions in state property tax receipts for school aid due to declining home values, and a drop-off in the tax on home sales attributable to the dead housing market.

"Yeah, it's tight. It'll be difficult to do new programs, difficult to fund increases," said Mitchell Bean, director of the House Fiscal Agency.

Stay tuned to see how we work out of this one; they are chomping on the bit to get out and campaign, so I bet they pull the rabbit out of the hat sooner rather than later. Or we can have another big 'ol budget brawl that makes everyone look bad.

Good luck everyone.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Meet Your 2008 Candidates

Filing day today, everybody step up to the window. For some reason, the Monty Python sketch "Bring out your dead!" kept popping into my mind while reading these stories; just my weird sense of humor asserting itself once again. I also think it would be fun to get a Hoogendyk t-shirt and wear it to liberal events, so there you go.

The House faces major turnover. There will be a bunch of new faces filling the seats next year.

Forty-four of the chamber's 110 seats will be open because the incumbent lawmakers aren't allowed to run again. One more seat will be open because an incumbent eligible for re-election isn't running. Dozens of newcomers registered to run for the open seats before Tuesday afternoon's filing deadline, setting the stage for crowded August primaries in some districts.

And for Congress-

All 15 Michigan members of the U.S. House sought re-election by Tuesday's filing deadline. As expected, two incumbents — one-term Republican Tim Walberg of Tipton and eight-term Republican Joe Knollenberg of Oakland County's Bloomfield Township — can expect tough, costly contests from Democrats Mark Schauer of Battle Creek and Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township.

John Conyers is the only candidate who doesn't face major party opposition, but he does have one brave primary challenger. Follow the link above to see.

Want all the names? Check the handy-dandy Secretary of State list for the show nearest you. The Detroit News has a good round-up story including the full list of the term limited reps. It's hard to lose people like Meisner and Tobocman - but will be very happy to wave bye-bye to the likes of DeRoche, Steil Jr (although his wife is running for his seat), and Sheen.

Inside the Lansing Center

Inside the Lansing Center

I liked this picture - it's the ceiling in the entrance of the Lansing Center.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What Surplus?

House Republicans are running around the state today to introduce their legislation to suspend the gas tax, and pointing to the "surplus" from 2007 as a way to pay for it.

Rep. Dave Hildenbrand (R-Lowell) said the idea would cost Michigan's general fund about $300 million, but the budget surplus at the end of the last fiscal year, he said, was $350 million.

You don't have to go far to blow this idea right out of the water - and the fun part is, you can use Mike Bishop and the Detroit News to do it.

Remember how DeRoche wanted to give out a tax rebate with the surplus money? Here's Mike Bishop, from the Lansing State Journal, 1/25/08-

And he remained silent on the DeRoche rebate until he showed up at a recent conference with House Speaker Any Dillon, D-Redford Township.

"The reality is ... there is not a surplus at all," Bishop conceded. If there was, he quickly adds, he would give the money back, too.

And from the Detroit News, 1/15/08, with a smaller figure; they also argued that this money didn't really exist.

The touted surplus of about $260 million for the 2007 General Fund budget year is illusory -- the state borrowed almost $360 million from one-time sources to balance the budget -- hardly fodder for a tax rebate.

But we won't let that stand in the way of a good PR stunt now, right, Republicans?

Remember this if your Republican legiscritter shows up today in your local media.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

MI Republican Non-Solution to High Gas Prices

Can you guess what the GOP solution is for high gas prices? C'mon, I know you can. It's the same solution they have for every problem.

That horse is still dead, but they continue to beat and beat and beat...

Local Republican lawmakers are pushing their own version of a gas-tax holiday in Michigan, proposing to temporarily eliminate Michigan's sales tax on gasoline for the summer driving season.

``We need to do what we can to bring some relief to the residents of the state,'' said Rep. Jack Hoogendyk, R-Texas Township. ``Eliminating the sales tax isn't a silver bullet, but it is something we can immediately do to help deal with high fuel prices.''

Hoogendyk was joined by Rep. Rick Shaffer, R-Three Rivers, and Rep. Neil Nitz, R-Baroda, outside Bob and Kay's Auto Wash on Stadium Drive in Oshtemo Township on Friday to discuss the proposal.

How will they pay for it? Once again they point to the surplus from 2007, which I could swear we have spent a thousand times over by now.

Hoogendyk said that although there would be a $300 million hit to the state, a $350 million surplus from the state's 2007 general fund revenue would cover the loss.

He added that the tax suspension would not affect any other state fund or program and additional money would be generated through in-state tourism as lower gas prices attract travelers.

Nice try, but the increased demand would drive prices right back up again. Jack fails to mention that part. The Livingston Daily Press & Argus also points out the fallacy of the Republican argument by ripping the federal plan proposed by McCain and Clinton, calling it "political pandering" and "ridiculous" - and the same would apply to any state tax holiday. A couple of pertinent points-

Any solution to the gas crunch has to include saving gas by driving less, driving more efficiently and driving more fuel-efficient cars. Having the federal government step in with this gas tax holiday just gives people less incentive to embrace these measures.

Gas tax holidays don't work. States have tried them in the past, and in every case, the reduction in the price of gas for drivers wasn't consistent with the amount of tax suspended. Instead, the average driver only saved about half of the amount of the tax suspension because retailers are not required to pass the savings onto their customers. If the tax goes down 18 cents, there's nothing stopping a retailer from adding that 18 cents right back to the cost of the gas — and pocketing the additional money.

So, the Michigan Republican idea is a non-starter. Just won't work. Got any other bright ideas? Don't think they do, do you?

Much to the Republican's chagrin, people aren't sold by the phrase "tax cuts" anymore. In the recent doom-and-gloom survey from the MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, those surveyed indicated that they would like the state government to focus on jobs and the economy, and "tax cuts" barely registers. From Gongwer-

And those polled want state government to get onto the job of helping fix the economy. A total of 41.1 percent said state government should focus on jobs and unemployment, while another 23.5 percent want government to work on the economy and encourage growth. No other issue garnered even 10 percent support from those polled, including cutting taxes which just 7.3 percent of those polled said government should attack.

Pity the Republicans. They have nothing left to sell but their failed economic ideas. And pity us, because we are stuck with the results of those failed ideas, at least for now.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Challenger For L. Brooks Patterson

This will be a fun one. Can't wait to see how Brooks will handle this.

She unseated a long-serving politician once -- to become mayor of Southfield -- and now Brenda Lawrence will try it again with her eyes on a higher office.

Lawrence plans to announce Friday that she'll challenge Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson for the county's top job.

Her supporters and at least one fellow Southfield politician have acknowledged that unseating Patterson, who has served as county executive for the past 16 years and has high name recognition throughout the county, won't be easy.

But Lawrence -- who became Southfield's first black and first female mayor after defeating longtime Mayor Donald Fracassi in 2001 -- said she thinks her plans for the region will win voters. Lawrence said her platform will include regional mass transit and improved economic opportunities for all residents -- from the wealthiest to the working class. "The leadership has to embrace all parts of this county," Lawrence said Wednesday.

Does she have a chance? Someone from the Detroit area, weigh in and tell me. No clue over here how people feel about Brooks nowadays.

United Solar Ovonic Announces Another Expansion

More good news for Greenville. We have blogged about Uni-Solar before, here and here, and for further information on the background of how this all came about in the first place, check out this post here.

United Solar Ovonic announced they'll expand four production lines at the Montcalm County facility, and will hire an undisclosed number of people for new jobs.

United Solar Ovonic, the maker of solar panels, saw its stock jump more than 43 percent Thursday, as investors learned about both their expansion and that their revenue jumped 24 percent in the third quarter.

Alternative energy is creating jobs, and Uni-Solar is living proof.

Did the Senate finish that work on the energy bill yet?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Michigan Supreme Court rules gay partners can't get health benefits

Michigan moves backward.

The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that governments and state universities can't offer health insurance to the partners of gay workers.

The court ruled 5-2 Wednesday that Michigan's 2004 ban against gay marriage also blocks domestic-partner policies affecting the partners of gay employees at the University of Michigan and other public-sector employers.

In this economy, rulings like this certainly won't help our efforts to attract new businesses and the creative class to our state. You can thank Gary Glenn and the other radicals for driving jobs and investment away with their bigotry. Remember how they promised this wouldn't affect benefits? They lied.

Very sad day.

Hello From Yesterdog!

OK, so I took the big plunge and bought the notebook.

First of all, this is really COOL!

Second of all, I hate touchpads. But I'll probably get used to it. Brought the camera, took a picture, was going to test the "process" - but - I had loaded Elements at home, never fired it up, and now it wants the CD Key, and of course I'm not there. So, we will try that grand experiment again tomorrow.

Still getting this set-up, always a fun time because I forget how to do all this stuff and then stumble around trying to remember...

No picture of Yesterdog "live" for you, but I have a feeling that this is going to be a very handy tool.

(Sidenote - what is really strange is that Sitemeter shows me hitting from my Comcast addy - which I'm not doing, obviously. Wonder what that is all about.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wonder Who This Could Be (Go Vote!)

Any elections in your area today? Did you get out and vote?

I'll be honest here - we just have a school board ballot, and I was going to blow it off. Don't have kids, don't know what is going on with the school board, didn't recognize the names running, but then I saw this...

Wonder Who This Could Be...

... and I received a post card in the mail with a nasty little picture of a supposed stereotypical "union boss" chomping on a cigar and wearing sunglasses. The card says the union has "set a course to tear down the superintendent, blow safety concerns out of proportion, and ignore the district's financial realities", and they named three names (Baker, Griffin and Martin) as candidates that will work the will of the union and "derail the current reform efforts".

Now, who do you know that a) spends a lot of money on school issues and can afford a billboard and mass mailing, b) hates teachers unions, c) needs secrecy to carry out their plans (the domain is registered as "private") and d) is concerned about "reforming government spending"?

Well, it could be any number of people, but the wording, targets, and tactics on this are all too familiar.

"You have no control over what other persons do, and if that's what they want to do and the public receives it," added board president Kenneth Hoskins.

Hoskins is referring to the EAG, which is based in Muskegon, and started up in June 2007. The group has lined up to oppose the union, which has sent out its own mailings recently.

So how does a group like that pay for a big billboard? 24 Hour News 8 searched online for its latest IRS return but couldn't find one because the group is new.

Kyle Olson of EAG says the group will file in November. He said it raises a lot of money from those concerned about reforming government spending.

Based in Muskegon (strange) and will file in November (convenient). Hmmmm... wonder who this could be.

Whoever it is, I promptly went out and voted for Baker, Griffin and Martin for the Grand Rapids school board. Congrats "MEAexposed", and thanks for alerting me to this issue.

The Company McCain Keeps

"You better not cry, you better not pout, sign the loyalty oath and pull your wallet out, John McCain is coming to town."

He's here tonight for a private fundraiser, and alongside him will be the chair of his Michigan Victory 08 committee, John Rakolta, Jr., and co-chair Robert Liggett. Names sound familiar? You might remember these two for a certain newspaper ad that ran in July 2006 - one that linked Gov. Granholm and other Democrats to Hitler.

At first, Dick DeVos was shocked! shocked I tell you! that someone would do such a thing, denounced the ad, and disavowed any knowledge of where the funding for it might have come from.

"There is no place in Michigan politics for this ad," DeVos said. "It is appalling and this approach is despicable and wrong. Use of imagery and text that trivialize the worst tragedy of the 20th Century is disgraceful and vile."

The MI GOP was silent on the ad - for good reason. The months went by, the election was over, and in March of 2007, when this was forgotten by everyone - the truth came out.

The controversial Detroit-based group that funded a 2006 election ad comparing major Democratic politicians — including Gov. Jennifer Granholm — to Adolf Hitler was largely bankrolled by some of the most prominent Republican donors in the state.

In early July, Voice the Vote placed an ad in the Detroit-based Michigan Chronicle newspaper that featured photographs of Hitler, Granholm and former Democratic presidents, accusing the party of taking African-American voters for granted and urging voters to say no to Granholm. It was widely condemned, including by Granholm’s Republican challenger, Dick DeVos.

But a report filed this week disclosing the political action committee’s donors – some eight months after it was due – revealed that about two-thirds of the $29,000 raised by the group came from John and Terry Rakolta, Julie and Peter Cummings and Robert Liggett.

The Cummingses and the Rakoltas have given hundreds of thousands to Republican candidates or organizations. Liggett also is a major Republican Party donor.

With friends like these...

McCain will be holding a town hall meeting tomorrow morning at the Shotwell-Gustafson Pavilion at Oakland University in Rochester. The AFL-CIO will be there to say "howdy", perhaps you can go help them out and ask John if he approves of the tactics of his "friends". Chances are he does. After all, MI GOP didn't seem to have a problem with it.

Your Newest Tiger

Matt Joyce

Former Whitecap Matt Joyce. Matt drew a walk and didn't get any hits in two official at-bats last night in his first major league start.

Oh, and by the way, I could have warned you about former Cub Jacque Jones, but would you have listened?

(Actually Jacque isn't bad, he just seems to choke in the clutch at times. Hope he lands on his feet somewhere)

Animal Farm

"The creatures outside looked from blog to television, and from television to blog, and from blog to television again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." - with apologies to George Orwell

The only other political blog I read anymore is Kos, and I can barely stand that. Man, it's bad. Just can't see the wisdom in dissing half the fricking party, and die-hard Obama/Clinton supporters that just post to spit on other Democrats really turn me off to both candidates. Couple that with these shrill, nonsensical claims that are reminiscent of the National Enquirer, and you have a recipe for the devolution of the blogs as a medium for "reality based" information.

Maybe I'm just burned-out right now and it will come back to me, but I'm having a helluva time writing anything, or even caring what happens at this point. Who wants to be around a bunch of nasty assholes? And, do they think that by bullying others they win anyone over to their point of view? Shit, when people pull that arrogant crap on me, I'll do the opposite just to piss them off. I guarantee I'm not alone on that.

Everyone reassures me that this will all come together and end in unity - I hope they are right, because right now I'm struggling with this big time. I don't ever expect everyone to agree all the time, of course, but the lack of respect for other viewpoints within the party is very disturbing, and I start to wonder if my life and time and energy would be better off applied in some other capacity.


I just don't know.

Wish us all luck - our future is at stake here. Again.

Save that ammo for the Bush Republicans. When the attacks start coming, we are going to need it.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Bowen Tagged

Bowen Tagged

Another beautiful day. This shot is damn near straight out of the camera; very little correction except to lighten the shadow.

Figaro mowed 'em down. Dude is 4-0 with a 0.46 ERA - if he doesn't move up soon I will be shocked.

Alfredo Figaro

Saturday, May 03, 2008

"What Really Matters"

My quote of the week goes to Mike Bishop. Cliched as it may be, for some reason when I read it, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

"We are constantly reminded of what really matters in this world, and we want to let her know we will be thinking of her and she will be in our prayers."

Constantly hitting refresh, waiting for the news to break, and the ghosts of my past whisper once again in my memory. Please, if there is a God, not this one too. Not this one too.

And then something similar to PTSD comes rushing in. I wonder if one ever really gets over traumatic memories of loss. You think it's gone until something triggers it... and it's back, bang, like it happened yesterday. It tends to pass quicker as the years roll on; maybe it's acceptance that comes with making it to middle-age. You begin to expect these things will happen. Or in my case, maybe it's just practice.

Anyway, back to Mike. He's right.

The trick comes in deciding what "really matters"; how you want to spend the rest of your time, who you want to spend it with.

I've been thinking long and hard about that lately.

More later... for now, I know how I want to spend today. And that's all any of us really has, anyway.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Indiana Manufacturer Moves to Michigan

The supreme irony of life.

Just recently, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels came to Michigan, touting how wonderful it was for business down there, talking about the billboards they were running to pitch some woo at Michigan businesses to "come on down!", and the comedy team of DeRoche & Bishop and all their fans made googly eyes at the red-state governor and dreamed of how wonderful life would be if we just could be like Indiana.

Daniels said he did not come to prescribe solutions for Michigan. But “maybe there is something in the approaches that we have taken, that you can learn from, or re-learn,” he said.

DeRoche, in introducing Daniels, said he hopes “we can gain from your knowledge and successes … as we’re trying to improve our economy in Michigan.” Bishop described himself as “a huge fan” of Daniels and said he has sought to borrow some of Daniels’ ideas.

Swoon went the Republicans. One thing they tried not to mention - Mitch raised taxes to make up for property tax caps, and for the first time in a long time, it's cheaper to buy big ticket items in Michigan than it is Indiana. Are we putting up billboards saying "come shop in Michigan"? We should.

One reform came last month, when Daniels signed legislation to cut and cap property taxes. The state took over some costs that were on local property-tax rolls and is paying for the costs by raising the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, redirecting some sales-tax revenue and capping gaming revenue. Like Michigan, Indiana has also passed measures to encourage in-state business investment.

And if Indiana's business climate is so great, why would - and get this - a refrigerator manufacturer move to Greenville?

By next spring, a new plant expected to be built in or near Greenville will start cranking out upscale modular and under-counter refrigerator and freezer units under the Northland-Marvel brand, a subsidiary of Aga Foodservice Group PLC based in Solihull, England.

The move will consolidate production from Northland Industries, now at 701 Ranney Drive, with the Marvel Industries products made in Richmond, Ind. On Thursday, 130 employees at the Marvel plant learned their site would close. Northland employs 110.

Bob Hansen, business retention manager of Richmond-based Economic Development Corp. of Wayne County, Ind., said Northland is building a 172,000-square-foot headquarters and factory in Greenville, after considering both sites for the consolidation.

In Michigan, state and local officials would not confirm the new plant site, although Greenville and Montcalm County both offer broad incentives to lure jobs.

Turns out Mitch is in a battle to save his own job in Indiana - recent polls have him neck and neck with whichever Democratic challenger they end up choosing, they don't care, just pick one.

Michigan Republicans got tired of putting the curse on their own local candidates - so now they go out-of-state and find new losers to promote.

And we will make refrigerators in Greenville once again.