Nov 29, 2006

Sources say Green Oak Township attorney to be named head of Livingston County Democrats

Inside information says Green Oak Township resident Matthew Evans will be elected the new chair of the Livingston County Democratic Party on Sunday, according to an unnamed source.
Evans, 49, is an attorney who ran for the Livingston County Board of Commissioners last month. He ran a great race, and he came very close to unseating an entrenched and popular incumbent who has held office for 38 years. He lost by a mere 965 votes with 43 percent of the vote.
I don’t know Mr. Evans as well as some of the other people I mentioned earlier who could be candidates, but from what I have seen and heard we will not skip a beat with our march forward.

Nov 28, 2006

Michigan’s newly elected House leadership is coming to Livingston County for Meet-and-Greet

Thanks to Matt Ferguson- the editor and creator of the premier political blog in the state, Michigan Liberal – newly elected Speaker of the House Rep. Andy Dillon and Majority Floor Leader Rep. Steve Tobocman will be here in Livingston County for a meet and greet with Michigan’s political bloggers.

The event will be held from 6:30 –7:30 p.m. Thursday Dec. 7 at our party's HQ at 10321 E. Grand River, Suite 600 in Brighton.

They will be speaking about the Democratic agenda for the coming session, and of course they will be answering questions from the attendees. The event was set up for and by bloggers, but the word is no one is checking your ISP at the door.

I’m happy that Matt chose Livingston County for this special event, and not only because I don’t have to drive so far. Many people will remember Matt fondly from his run for the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional Seat in the U.S. House, and he still has friends here.

The organizers are not requiring an RSVP, but to help them get an idea how many people plan to attend they are asking you e-mail Matt at if you plan to attend.

I look forward to seeing you there and showing off our digs. The longstanding and unfunny joke in Livingston County has been the Democrats can hold their meetings in a phone booth, but we have a pretty spacious and attractive phone booth.

Leadership of political parties in Livingston County will change with resignations

I was surprised and disappointed to find out Joe Carney will be stepping down as chair of the Livingston County Democrat Party. I have known Joe since I moved back to Livingston County for good in 2000, and I consider him a friend.
He has served the party well for 13 years, and anyone can see how the party has grown under his leadership. We have our own HQ and the number of volunteers is growing and continues to grow. I, and, the party, will miss Joe, and I hope he stays around to help us out. I know Kathy will still be around as the chair of the 8th Congressional District.
Even though there are big shoes to fill, finding a quality replacement should not be that difficult because there are so many qualified people out there. Just to throw out a few names I know personally who will do a great job include Irene Cahill, Donna Anderson, Bob Alexander, Mary Andersson, Debby Buckland, Anne King-Hudson, one of the McGivney brothers, Jim Swonk or Jan Vogel. Those are just names off the top of my head.
A new chair will be chosen at the party’s annual holiday party Sunday at the party HQ.

On the Republican side, party chair Cindy Pine also stepped down after four years. I personally know Cindy, and I have a lot of respect for her. The names of the possible replacements the Daily Press & Argus is throwing around is rather scary. The extremist wing of the party that was responsible for the shameful judiciary questionnaire put out last summer could seize control of the party. Bill Rogers, the chair of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, hit the nail on the head when he said the episode may have been a case of extremists taking over the party's agenda. "Extremism doesn't do you any good," he said.
I know Bill personally and respect him, and he’s a class guy. He would be an excellent chair if the county and the party's charters allow it. His leadership would benefit the entire county. But an endorsement by a Democrat will do him no good. From a political standpoint I would prefer to see some of the other candidates mentioned get the job.
Wendy Day, a member of the Howell School Board and a member of the so-called LOVE hate group, was one person mentioned.
For a good laugh check out this paragraph from the article by Dan Meisler: “When asked about the direction of the party, Day said it should keep sight of the "family values" that define Republicans, as well as the limited government and low taxes championed by President Ronald Reagan.” Family values? Is she for real?
Also mentioned was Jay Drick, a member of the GOP exertive committee and a candidate for Livingston County District Judge earlier this month. It was Drick who helped create the much talked about split in the party when the party took the unusual step of endorsing in a nonpartisan race. His campaign lit also put out some false charges about his opponent, Judge Theresa Brennan.
A new chair will most likely be chosen at the party’s convention on Thursday.

Nov 27, 2006

Veteran journalist hits the nail on the head on harmful effects of Gerrymandering and Republican spin

Veteran journalist Jack Lessenberry has a unique way of cutting right through the BS and getting straight to the point. For a good example, last summer he called out Chris Ward on his so-called election reform bill, saying it was “the moral equivalent of Monica Lewinsky opening a charter school of chastity. If Chris were in another occupation, he might have a mattress strapped to his back.”
Lessenberry has worked as a foreign correspondent and executive national editor of The Detroit News, reporting from more than 40 countries. His writing has appeared in such national publications as Vanity Fair, Esquire, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Boston Globe. He is also a professor of journalism at Wayne State University, and his freelance columns appear in The Metro Times, The Traverse-City Record Eagle and The Toledo (Ohio) Blade.
He hit another one out of the park today on his blog and radio show on NPR when he addressed gerrymandering and redistricting.

Here’s what the Republican spin on this is. They are saying that this was really a national election. They claim the vote in Michigan was really a vote against the way the war has been going, and also a reaction to corruption in the Republican Congress.
So were the Democratic victories in Michigan an accident?
Not at all. Instead, the media has been hornswoggled into believing Republican propaganda. This was in fact a moderate to liberal landslide. The truth is that the only reason Republicans control anything at all is due to the “accident” of outrageous gerrymandering.
Let’s look at the record. Democrats got a huge majority -- 54.4 percent -- of all the votes cast for state senate. But Republicans won 21 seats; Democrats only 17. How could this happen?
Simple. Five years ago, a Republican legislature and governor approved a plan to crowd all the Democrats into as few districts as possible, and stretch Republicans over as many as possible. This was subject to approval by a GOP-dominated Supreme Court.
They did the same thing in Congressional districts. Democratic congressional candidates got 300,000 more votes than Republican ones. But that translated into nine Republican winners, and only six Democrats. All the Democrats won by more than two to one.

For a local example, just take a look at Livingston County’s two state House districts. Instead of dividing them into a more logical east and west or even north and south configuration it resembles some sort of a big C. The 66th district takes in Milford where nobody there identifies at all with Livingston County, instead of South Lyon, for instance, where some residents are in the Brighton school district and where some Livingston County residents are in the South Lyon school district.

LSJ editorial supports Sunshine Laws and transparency in government

Good job by The Lansing State Journal. The newspaper came out in favor of Sunshine Laws and transparency in government with its editorial against Senate Bill 647. The bill is expected to be taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee in the lame duck session.

The bill states its intent clearly and chillingly: "To restrict the use and disclosure of certain statements made by law enforcement officers."
Here is how this cover-up legislation would work: A police chief suspects that an officer uses excessive force while making arrests or harasses motorists during traffic stops. He questions the officer, whose statements support the chief's belief. Incredibly, what SB 647 seeks is a seal of secrecy of testimony by police officers making it a confidential communication not open to public inspection without the officer's consent.
The motorist who files a harassment complaint or victim of a beating could not learn that the police officer acknowledged these acts. In fact, so sweeping is this measure that if the bad cop sought a job with a different police department, his acknowledgements of beatings and harassment couldn't be shared with the new employer. That is bad policy that weakens Michigan's belief that open government is good government.

The Michigan Press Association has come out against it, and every newspaper in the state should too. Hopefully, every citizen will too. Police officers not only should be held to the same standard as ordinary citizens, but maybe an even higher standard should be in place. Every citizen who supports openness in government should oppose this bill. The argument in support of the bill just does not make sense.

Supporters of the bill say that unlike private citizens who have the right to remain silent when charged with a criminal matter, police officers must testify when ordered to do so by their department. This defense of SB 647 is purposely misleading. Americans have the constitutional right against self-incrimination. But it doesn't apply to their jobs. If an employer suspects that there is theft in the company, it has the right to summon its workers and investigate. Employees refusing to cooperate can be dismissed. They have no special right to refuse questions about wrongdoing. Why are police officers different?

Nov 26, 2006

Protest by small band of self-appointed community censors falls flat on its face

The good news is the protest against a recently opened adult video, lingerie and novelties store in Brighton on Friday by a small – and I mean very small – group of self-appointed community censors felt flat on its face.
Despite the good weather, only a handful of protestors, mostly from the congregation of Green Oak Township's Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church, showed up, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, and the protest was led and organized by Patrick Flynn, an employee of the church and a former conservative Republican candidate for U.S. Congress for the 8th District. It makes you wonder if the IRS should be taking a look at the church’s charter for its illegal political campaigning.
The small turnout occurred despite the little band of censors getting a front-page preview by the local newspaper. I’m not saying its not news, but for that to make the front page it either had to be a slow news day or they had to reach into the bottom of the barrel because the Thanksgiving holiday left them without a lot of copy.

With signs stating, "Pornography is an enemy of the family," they walked alongside a busy Grand River Avenue on one of the busiest shopping days of the year to alert residents about what they consider a destructive seed being planted in their community, the opening of Intimate Ideas. The store, located at the intersection of Cross Street and Grand River Avenue, opened last week.

I guess the fact there is absolutely no link between sexual assault and pornography is not going to stop then for distorting the truth. Besides, it makes for a good slogan on a sign.

Members of this grass-roots group said they fear this store would cause other stores that sell pornography to sprout up in the Brighton area.

They believe it will be the beginning of a “red-light district.” If so, it will be one of the few in the entire nation.

Nov 24, 2006

Editorial continues to misrepresent the facts in defense of lawmaker’s tax giveaway

I try hard not to be cynical, but when I see another attempt by the local newspaper to defend sate Rep. Chris Ward and his attempt to give $9 million of taxpayer money to Quadrants, the developer of the Green Oak Village Place mall, for necessary road improvements it’s quite easy. The latest attempt to defend the indefensible appeared in today’s paper, and it makes you wonder why now? Why are you still getting the facts wrong?

We know that the executive editor of this newspaper contributes to the Ward campaign, but this piece is worth more than the cash he gives to the campaign. All it really costs is the integrity of the editorial board, and we know that’s long been compromised.

Here’s some background. The DDA law was established in 1975 to halt the decline of property tax values and deterioration in downtowns. It was also intended to give downtowns a weapon to fight huge shopping malls, like the $100 million Village Place Mall, that were just coming on line in 1975 that had uniform hours, lots of free parking and everything within walking distance. In other words, the law was made to combat the very thing Mr. Ward wanted to pervert the law to benefit.

In 2004 Mr. Ward changed the law – for just one person mind you – that allowed a DDA to expand its boundaries if it was a $100 million project and it did away with the requirement that the property had to have declining property values.

Only when the ruse was called, and it was clear that Livingston County Board of Commissioner would not approve this tax giveaway to a rich developer, did Ward rescind the law made for just one person.

The newspaper got the facts completely wrong, and they should talk to Livingston Country Commissioner Jack LaBelle for the facts. The chair of the Commission and a member for more than 30 years also saw it for what it was, a tax giveaway.

The road, the roundabouts and the bridge would have looked exactly the same if the con had gone forward. The only difference would be the taxpayers would have paid for the improvements that would have benefited the developer instead of the person who would see the profit paying for it. In most other states of the union they have what are called “developer impact fees.” That means the developer must pay fees for the infrastructure and other improvements his development will cause and require. Apparently, here in Michigan the exact opposite is true, and we have taxpayer impact fees, meaning we have to pay for the improvements the developer’s project will require.

Although both the city and county voiced legitimate concerns, the fact remains that the loss of the DDA option did not stop the mall construction. But it does mean that the traffic system is not as good — or as safe — as it could have been.
That's too bad. Despite some misconceptions voiced in the last political campaign, the DDA was not a scheme to cut taxes for the developers of the mall. The developer pays exactly the same property taxes with or without the DDA.

That’s completely untrue. Mike McGonegal, Ward’s opponent in the last election, made it a campaign issue. However, he never once said it was a “scheme to cut taxes for the developers of the mall.” It was a scheme to have the taxpayers pay for something the developer should pay for. There was never any intention from the developer to pay for anything or pledge any money for improvements.

We are still not sure why it's OK to use a DDA to build an expressway ramp in the city of Brighton, but it's somehow not appropriate to use the same funding mechanism to improve the road system just outside the city limits.

I’m surprised that the editorial board is that misinformed, or is that they just think the readers are stupid. DDA’s were developed to keep downtowns healthy, and the law was introduced because many downtown storefronts were being boarded up and abandoned in favor of suburban shopping malls. The law was approved to fight the very thing that the new bastardized DDA law would have helped, huge suburban shopping malls. The fact is townships can form DDA’s, they just have to do it under the law instead of having some friendly lawmaker pervert the law just for them. To form a DDA all you really need is to have some kind of central business district, and property values must be falling. That’s the rub here. They did not have the latter. Enter Mr. Ward.

Perhaps when you are in downtown Howell tonight watching the Fantasy of Lights parade or in downtown Brighton watching the Holiday Glow you will be thankful that things like the DDA Act was passed to protect these jewels we call downtowns. If not, you will be watching parades in some huge, ugly strip mall.

Nov 23, 2006

They’re back: Small-minded group aims to censor another Livingston County business

They’re back.

The same small-minded people who brought you the ridiculous protest against the Victoria’s Secret store are back with a new protest and picket. The intended victim this week is a new adult video, lingerie and novelties store that just opened last week in Brighton.

The grass-roots group plans to picket outside Intimate Ideas on Friday afternoon. The store, located in a small strip mall at Grand River Avenue and Cross Street, also sells adult toys.
"The bottom line is it's pornography," said Hamburg Township resident Robin Blaszak. "It's treating the body as merchandise, not as something to be respected."
Blaszak and Patrick Flynn, both members of Green Oak Township's Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church, have sent out letters and e-mails to Brighton-area churches asking them to participate in the protest. In the letter, the group asks residents to join and "exercise our constitutional rights to publicly demonstrate our displeasure in the establishment and location of this business."

I just hope that every sane person who loves freedom and choice goes to the store and buys something and supports this storeowner against these small-minded people who want to tell you and I what we can and cannot see, hear and buy.

Flynn said there are studies that show pornography is detrimental to families and often a factor in cases involving abuse of women and children.
Flynn said he's worried about the cumulative effect of businesses like this moving into the community.
"Is this the beginning of a red-light district in Brighton?" he asked. "Some may say that's an extreme thing to say."

I challenge Mr. Flynn to produce one of the so-called studies he cites to support his ridiculous claim. There is absolutely no link between legal pornography and violence against women and children.

But the most outrageous claim Mr. Flynn makes is it will spur a “red light district.” I suggest Mr., Flynn get out more and actually visit some more diverse areas than Livingston County. He will find there simply is no such thing as a “red-light district” anymore. I have lived all over the country in some very urban areas, and there are simply none of these so-called “red light districts.” However, he is correct when he says it’s an “extreme thing to say,” but we are used to that kind of extreme thing from Mr. Flynn.

I have lived in San Diego, Norfolk, Charleston, SC. and Jacksonville, Fl., and none of these cities have a “red-light district.” These are Navy towns where literally thousands of young, single men live far from family and friends who might frequent a “red-light district” if there was such a ting. Maybe they can come to Brighton to frequent the one here.

I suggest Mr. Flynn and Ms. Blaszak find something constructive to do with the obvious free time they have on their hands.

Nov 22, 2006

TV political ads outpace actual political coverage on TV news

Both the subscription only Gongwer News and MIRS are both reporting on the great job TV “news” did on covering politics in the last election cycle, and it compared the amount of time it spent on actual coverage of the election and issues compared to the obscene amount of cash it took in from political commercials.

As a former print reporter, I clearly have a bias for newspapers. But it takes no genius to see how shallow TV news really is. They spend more time promoting and hyping what’s coming next than on politics. That’s followed closely by crime coverage. Newspapers do a much better job, and they pay for the ink and newsprint to convey the in-depth information. TV uses the public airway for free, and most of the estimated $34 million of his own money the Amway Guy spent went to these TV stations for ads.

In the month leading up to the election, Great Lakes states saw 2.5 times more political TV advertising than they did 30-minute TV news covering the election, according to the second part of a study released by the University of Wisconsin's NewsLab.
According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network (MCFN), in Lansing political coverage averaged 1.46 minutes of airtime during a 30-minute newscast. Through September, the average was 27 seconds of airtime on political stories during a newscast.
In Detroit, the MCFN said, the average in October and leading up to the November 7 election was 1.23 minutes of time, compared to 22 seconds of time spent in September.
But political advertising in the Detroit market averaged 4.21 minutes per newscast. Similar, comparable data to the amount of political ads in the Lansing market was not available.
However, Ken Goldstein of the (University of) Wisconsin study said that in all the markets, all ads as well as weather and sports coverage took more than half of a newscasts' time at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Each broadcast averaged about nine political ads, Mr. Goldstein said.

Taken alone, the lousy job TV did covering the election and the issues is atrocious, but when you combine the TV ads its obscene. TV stations need to take those millions it pocketed and actually fulfill its mission of informing the public on the issues, or it needs to start being charged for using those airwaves like newspapers are charged for ink and newsprint.

I would like to see more local political and issue shows. The best in the state, “Off the Record” is on public television. The only local issues show on commercial TV I know of is on WDIV Detroit.

Nov 21, 2006

Small vocal minority attempts to set community standards for all Livingston County residents

We have another case of a small, misguided minority appointing themselves as the community censor to decide what you and I can and cannot see. This time it’s the parishioners at Green Oak Township's Holy Spirit Catholic Church. The latest outrage you ask? Mannequins at Victoria’s Secret in the new Green Oak Village Place mall dressed in, Lingerie. Next, they will want to ban the Sears and JC Penny catalog because they display women in bras.

The story was splashed across the front page of today’s Daily Press & Argus. It makes you wonder if it’s sweeps week, but we know sex sells. Ask Victoria’s Secret. If the so-called protest and letter writing campaign is really as large and widespread as reported I have no problem with the newspaper writing about it. You can’t ignore stories. But sometimes small, vocal minorities get too much ink.

Hamburg Township resident Robin Blaszak, who is part of a grass-roots group writing letters to protest the store's window display, said she was offended by the scantily-clad mannequins when she recently went shopping at the mall.
Blaszak said this is a "family-friendly community."
"We don't want those things exposed to our children," she said.
When she first came across the window display, Blaszak became so upset that she went inside the store and talked with an assistant manager who, she said, expressed the view that the store glorifies women.
"I don't feel this is glorification for women. It's making women into sex objects," Glaszak said.
Blaszak said the group is concerned with the window displays, and if those items were moved inside the store, she wouldn't have an issue with the store. Blaszak said she wants to be able to walk through the mall "without fear of being assaulted by sexual imagery."
Several of the group members belong to Green Oak Township's Holy Spirit Catholic Church, whose parish council wrote a letter expressing its concerns with the window display.

"Our concern is that we want the window displays to basically reflect our community's values," Blaszak said.
And Ms. Blaszak is the one to decide the community’s values. Not for me, thank you.

Blaszak said she saw six mannequins dressed in panties and bras, but it appears that display has changed. Currently, there are only two mannequins and a larger-than-life photograph of a model dressed in underwear.
VS addressed the concerns, but this obviously will not be enough. We must hide the ugly human body.

Joe Tyree, who handles REDICO's retail operations, said this is the first time he's dealt with residents upset about a store's window display. He's been in the retail business for 25 years and runs malls all across the United States.
Apparently not in Livingston County.

Hamburg Township resident Patrick Flynn said he and other residents have a right not to have those images "in your face."
"This is not an unreasonable request," said Flynn, who is the business manager for Holy Spirit Catholic Church and unsuccessfully ran against U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, in the Aug. 8 Republican primary election.

Nov 20, 2006

Nominate your favorites for the coveted Tin Can Trashcan sponsored by the Michigan Caucus

The Michigan Caucus is taking nominations for Michigan’s Worst 25 List for 2006. So, nominate your favorite candidate, Republican, Democrat, Independent, or whatever, it doesn’t matter. The only criteria is that the nominee demonstrates the very worst in Michigan politics.
And 2006 gave us a bumper crop of misfeasance, malfeasance, hypocrites, race-baiting, hyper-spending, exaggeration, lies, jingoism and just plain stupidity.
SO DO IT NOW! All nominees will go up for a vote starting December 10. The winner will receive the coveted Tin Can Trashcan®. See the current Worst 25 List.

Nov 16, 2006

Proponent of Defense of Marriage becomes marriage causality

CORRECTION – I wrote in this post that I never saw an article in the Daily Press & Argus on Chris Ward’s divorce, but a friend pointed out to me that’s not the case. A story on Ward ran in February written by Jim Totten. According to the article, Chris Ward filed for the divorce on Nov. 28 and his wife was served with the divorce papers on Jan. 16 of this year.
I apologize for the mistake and to the Press & Argus.

So much for being the party of “family values.” According to the Daily Press & Argus, State Sen. Valde Garcia becomes the second of the three Livingston County state lawmakers to go through a divorce in the last year.

A divorce can happen to the best of us through no fault of our own, and there are two sides to every story and getting a divorce does not make you any less of a parent, but if you look at the Senator’s record it makes it hypocritical at the very least.

Marriage has been the subject of some of Valde Garcia's work in the Legislature. In 2004, he co-sponsored a package of bills that would have encouraged premarital counseling, increased the waiting period for a marriage license, and required a child-care plan to be in place before a divorce is granted.
At the time, Valde Garcia said he wanted to "slow down" divorce rates.
He also sponsored a resolution that would have amended the state Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

It makes you wonder why Republicans - who claim to the party of “family values” - must tell you who you can and cannot marry in the name of “defense of marriage” when they continue to rack up divorces.

It was common knowledge to many political insiders that our other Republican lawmaker, Rep. Chris Ward, was also going through a divorce, but we never saw an article in the newspaper. Maybe that’s because it’s not final yet, so will we be seeing a story when that happens? I would like to see the reason for it, and the actions, morals and values of our elected leaders are relevant. To Mr. Ward’s credit, when he listed his bio data in the various candidate comparison web sites and voting guides before the election he always listed his marital status as “separated.”

That was not the case with Mr. Garcia.

According to the story, Karla Garcia filed for divorce in August, and the couple had been separated since September 2005. The divorce was granted Nov. 2 by District Judge L. Suzanne Geddis.
Why wasn’t his martial status listed as “separated” before the Nov. 7 election? It was not hinted at even on his own campaign web site. Granted, it would not have mattered because Livingston County voters have continuously failed to hold Republican candidates accountable. I’m sure there is a good explanation for the discrepancy, but someone has to ask the tough questions that the corporate media does not.

Check out his response on Project Vote Smart -
The Gannett voters guide -
Campaign web site -

Nov 15, 2006

Ward’s election signals intention to obstruct in the House

The House Republicans in Lansing sent a clear signal yesterday that they have no intention of engaging in any so-called bipartisanship or cooperating with the Democratic majority by retaining Chris Ward as House Minority Floor Leader. This election came despite Ward baling out on Monday with a letter telling his Republican colleagues he had no intention of running for a “leadership” position. Ward’s heavy-handed tactics and arrogance while completely shutting out the Democrats from the process while Majority Floor Leader resonated with his Republicans House colleagues, and since they know there’s little chance of him working with the Democratic majority, let him work against them.

The conventional wisdom, at least before yesterday, was to give the role to an up-and-coming first-termer so that when and if the Republicans return to the majority that person could step in as Speaker or Floor Leader. Since Ward cannot run for the House again, he can be an obstructionists without fear of accountably from the voters, like that has ever happened in Livingston County, anyway. Ward becomes the Lamest Duck of them all.
If there’s’ any doubt about his future role and intentions as Minority Floor Leader read this from today’s Daily Press & Argus.

He said his job in the minority would be to use whatever procedures he has at his disposal to stop proposals that violate Republican principles.
"My role is to either slow down or stop those bills from passing," he said. "The most obvious area would be any kind of increase in taxes or fees, or any kind of new undue regulation on business."

Nov 14, 2006

Former journalist tracks conservative media bias

This was an excellent Neighbors feature in the Press & Argus today from political reporter Dan Meisler. It amazes me that we have so many connected people living in Livingston County. This woman contributes to one of my favorite web sites, News Hounds. I check that one and Crooks and Liars everyday.

By Dan Meisler
The last straw for Judy Daubenmier, a veteran of more than 20 years as a reporter, came when she was helping to cover Proposal A for The Associated Press.
The complicated plan, completed in a late-night, Christmas Eve meeting in 1993, shifted the burden to pay for schools from property taxes to sales tax. As she worked on the story, another media outlet came out with a story on a dispute between lawmakers over parking spots.
An editor suggested that the reporters do more stories like
that — "cute stories ... light stories" — and that's when Daubenmier made her final decision to find another line of work.
"I didn't feel like that is what I was about," she said.
Since then, the Genoa Township resident has earned a doctorate degree in history from the University of Michigan; taught classes there; and contributed to a movie and a Web log monitoring the Fox News Channel for bias.
Her latest project, a book published in October called "Project Rewire, New Media from the Inside Out," is available for purchase on
One of the main points of the book is that the multitude of blogs devoted to criticizing the media has the potential to improve the performance of the mainstream press and television news.
More specifically, Daubenmier said that for decades, conservatives have pushed the false idea that the media is biased toward the liberal point of view.
Now, through the Internet, liberals are highlighting conservative bias in the media.
Daubenmier's examples of conservative media slant are the treatment of Al Gore when he was running for president in 2000 — when he was characterized as stretching the truth — and the proliferation of conservative talk radio shows.
Plus, when she started monitoring Fox News Channel for the Web site, she discovered what she said is reporting slanted to the conservatives.
She disputes the idea that her involvement in a liberal cause after leaving journalism proves there is a liberal bias in the mainstream media.
"It proves that liberals work in the media. There are conservatives in media. The question is, what is the quality of the output?" Daubenmier said.

Ward bails on colleagues

News Flash, both MIRS and Gongwer both report Chris Ward was elected House Minority Floor Leader after both parties caucused most of the day on Tuesday, despite Ward taking himself out of any leadership consideration the day before. I’m not sure what this means, other than the Republicans have no plans to practice any form of bipartisanship for the next two years.

According to the subscription only Gongwer News, Chris Ward is taking his ball and going home because the Republicans lost control of the House, and because he can no longer be the House Majority Floor Leader he doesn’t wan to the be the Minority Floor Leader.

“Late Monday Mr. Ward sent a letter to his colleagues saying he would not seek re-election as floor leader or election to any other House Republican leadership post.”

Apparently, Mr. Ward’s heavy-handed tactics while Majority Floor Leader are coming home to roost, and he recognizes with the arrogant and sarcastic way he treated Representatives on the other side of the aisle there was no use for him to try and pretend to work with the majority party. Obviously, this means even less influence for Livingston County lawmakers in Lansing.

Nov 13, 2006

Newspaper rightwing editorial condones voter fraud and eliminating independent judiciary

Despite an anti-Republican swing in the nation, the OP-ED pages of the Daily Press & Argus continues its shift to the right. The latest evidence of that trend is the editorial in today’s edition that says Proposal 2, that bans affirmative action programs based on race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin, should not be challenged in the courts. Their reasoning is because voters in Livingston County voted nearly 3-1 for it.

Apparently, they have forgotten there are three branches of government, and the independent judiciary job’s is to ensure laws pass Constitutional muster. Often, it’s the last resort for the poor and powerless who have been discriminated against and who have been treated unfairly. I’m sure if a Constitutional amendment banning African-Americans from voting had been placed on the ballot in 1962 in Alabama or Mississippi it would have passed by a similar margin, but that would note have made it right. Remember, Proposal 2 was opposed by both candidates for governor, and those who supported Proposal 2 included the KKK. Let the courts do the job the Founding Fathers intended it to do.

The editorial says opponents fought hard to keep it off the ballot, but they did not commit voter fraud like California’s Ward Connerly and his supporters. I don’t know what affirmative action plan Chris Ward has suggested, but I can safely say it will be like every alleged reform he has introduced and only benefit Republicans.

Ward’s position on Prop 2 was pretty clear. He asked the Attorney General to determine whether the Michigan Civil Rights Commission "may have exceeded its constitutional and statutory powers" in investigating the gathering of signatures for the ban. Legal experts have said they did not, and Ward conveniently ignored the fact that despite widespread allegations of fraud, no other body or office in the state was allowed to look into the fraud committed, In fact, Ward went out of his way to take powers away from the state Board of Canvassers because they were concerned with the fraud committed. He’s supposed to be so concerned about voter fraud with his unconstitutional voter ID bill, but voter fraud committed for something he supports is OK.

The reasons for the issue’s success are many. Most obvious was the fact that many voters — particularly white voters — saw logic in an argument that said discrimination by race is wrong, regardless of the motivation.
The opponents didn’t help their cause with clumsy and frantic tactics. They fought hard to keep the issue from the ballot, leaving the impression that they didn’t want voters to have a say in the matter.
Then they used scare tactics, including wild suggestions that the proposal would prevent women from getting cancer screenings.
The measure would have likely passed anyway, but many voters could not have enjoyed being treated as though they were idiots.
Now what? One tactic is for opponents to talk long and loud about how this places a stigma on the state. Do that effectively enough, and it could be come a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Another strategy was immediately announced by Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan, which was the target of two U.S. Supreme Court lawsuits that centered on its affirmative action admission programs.
Coleman stridently vowed to begin litigation to fight the decision of the state’s voters. Apparently our voters are allowed to pay taxes to support the university — and to pay for lawsuits — but they aren’t competent to make informed decisions on complex issues.
There is another strategy. That’s to accept the decision of the voters and to accept the notion that affirmative action plans based solely on race are inherently flawed. Why not instead pursue affirmative action plans based on socioeconomic factors rather than race, as state Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton Township, suggested?
Why not also more seriously address the root problems that make affirmative action plans necessary? It may sound good if U-M adds a few minority students — some of whom may be in the upper middle class — under an affirmative action program.
But shouldn’t we, as a matter of state policy, be looking instead at why a majority of minority-dominated inner-city high school students have dropped out and aren’t candidates for any sort of college? Shouldn’t we be attacking the root problems that imply that minority students aren’t prepared to get into college unless they get a break?
Tuesday’s vote doesn’t mean that state government and universities have to turn their backs on minority progress. What it does mean is that voters feel the policies are unfair and that, despite some successes, ineffective.
In light of last week’s vote, state university, government and business leaders have two choices. They can find more effective ways to narrow inequities while promoting minority advancement.
Or they can file another lawsuit.

Nov 12, 2006

DFP editorial supports reasonable position on robo calls

The editorial in the Detroit Free Press Sunday clearly reinforced what I have been saying about the practice of robo calls. You cannot stop them nor should you want to stop them because the calls are political speech, but we can and should place some reasonable restrictions on them, such as identifying who is paying for the call, limiting the duration of the calls and placing some reasonable time restrictions on the calls.

The editorial is also nice to see because one of our local newspapers, the Daily Press & Argus, editorialized about completely banning them and one of our esteemed representatives in Lansing, Chris Ward, also supported banning them. The ironic part is Ward used the robo calls during the past election, and the newspaper regularly hires a company to make telemarketing calls on their behalf. I hope Rep. Andy Meisner, the new chair of the House Oversight, Elections and Ethics Committee, takes the measure up in January. The former chair of the committee, Ward, was too involved in passing legislation that benefited just his party and introducing show legislation.

Maybe the most annoying aspect of the campaigns that just ended was the proliferation of "robo-calling" -- automated messages on behalf of political candidates or causes that kept phones ringing and answering machines filled throughout the fall.
This practice can't be stopped, but it can be regulated, as some states have done. Michigan should, too.
The calls, often featuring celebrities or political leaders, are more annoying than effective, and, for elderly people who are most likely to have only land-line phones, they can be a physical imposition.
Folks who signed up for the Federal Trade Commission's do-not-call list that took effect in 2005 may have thought they would be free of this form of telemarketing. But the campaign calls are exempt because they are political speech, which is well established as different from commercial speech.
Even with political speech, however, courts have upheld restrictions on the "time, place and manner" of its delivery. A couple dozen states have put some limits on robo-calling that Michigan legislators should consider before the next statewide election in 2008. These include requiring the calling companies to register with the state, so at least they can be identified and asked to respond to complaints.
Some states limit the hours when robo-calling is allowed, and a few require that a live person introduce the taped message, which raises costs, increases the time required, and effectively discourages the practice.

Editor that contributes to Republican majority in Livingston County crows about the numbers

It seems ironic that Rich Perlberg, executive editor of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, writes a column in today’s edition saying that Democrats have as much chance as getting elected in Livingston County as Kevin Federline has of becoming a successful rapper. Mr. Perlberg is part of that problem, and it makes you wonder why an alleged unbiased journalist would prefer people just vote straight Republican ticket instead of reading newspapers and other sources to individually examine the candidates and their views.

I was the Communications Director for Mike McGoneal, Democratic candidate for the 66th District House seat, and the newspaper endorsed our opponent without even the courtesy of an endorsement interview. I would like to know if that decision came from Gannett HQ in Virginia or further down the chain of command, but we know it was not a local decision. The lack of critical coverage of our opponent’s ethically challenged record did not help our cause either. The numerous press releases we sent to the newspaper were filed in the circular file, but when Chris Ward sends out a ridiculous press release chiding the governor for signing a bill that his party, the majority party, introduced and passed is front-page news.

When we endorsed the Brighton Republican for his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, we got some e-mails from people who said we were crazy to say he represented Livingston County values.
But look at the results. Rogers took about 55 percent of the total vote, which was his closest race in six years. But he dominated in Livingston County, with a 48,000-26,000 advantage over Jim Marcinkowski.

Again, a lack of critical coverage of the Gannett paper did not help, and we saw from the endorsement decision from the Lansing State Journal, another Gannett product, that the decision to endorse Rogers did apparently come from Gannett HQ.
It’s sad that because of gerrymandering our politicians are no longer held accountable by anyone, and it is next to impossible to unseat an incumbent, at least in Michigan, unless you have a ton of money and your opponent is a child molester. Only one of the 15 Michigan incumbents in the U.S. House were beaten, despite an anti-incumbency and anti-Republican feeling sweeping the nation, and that was a Republican defeated in the primary. The only instrument that can at least try to hold them accountable is the media, but it’s a little disturbing to see Perlberg's name show up in the campaign finance reports of both Rogers and Chris Ward.
The 8th was once a swing district that had Democrat Debbie Stabenow representing us. While she was our Congresswoman she kept a district office in Genoa Township on Grand River Avenue, and she was responsive and accessible to constituents because she had to be. Why would Rogers bother? The little constituent work he does is only the kind that gets publicity and his photo in the official Mike Rogers news, AKA the Daily Press & Argus. After Livingston County helped Rogers win the this seat in 2000 with a paper thin margin of just 111 votes he promised to open a district office in the county. We’re still waiting, and the P & A again gives him a pass.

Some folks are trying to say that the county is becoming more liberal and more receptive to Democrats. I've heard that argument for more than 30 years, but the numbers still don't support it.
In fact, Democrats in Livingston County have about as much chance for success as a Britney Spears marriage.
Republicans took more than 62 percent of the votes across the county and more than doubled their opponent's totals in some races. The closest race I could find was a county commissioner race in Hamburg Township where the winner, incumbent Republican Dennis Dolan (who never campaigns), took 55 percent of the vote from challenger Dave Buckland.

Again, someone has to hold politicians accountable, and so far the voters have not and the P & A will not. There is one guaranteed time that politicians pay attention to the voters and that’s at election time. Not in Livingston County.

Nov 10, 2006

Ward may lose even more influence in Lansing that first expected

Although Chris Ward may have won his race in Livingston County, he may lose the race in Lansing. After the Democratic takeover of the House, you have to wonder what Mr. Ward was doing during the election season because it sure wasn’t campaigning or paying attention to the voters in the 66th District. He apparently did little for the rest of the GOP candidates either. According to subscription only MIRS, “House Speaker Craig DeRoche (R-Novi) and House Majority Floor Leader Chris Ward made their case today to the House Republican caucus on why they should return as the caucus' leadership pair in the 2007-08 session.”
In the first session day after the election on Thursday the majority party – at least for a few more months – stayed in caucus the entire session day, and DeRoche “explained to members that the GOP was hit by a Democratic tsunami fueled by national politics, but that he and Ward were in the best position to pick up the pieces as minority leader and minority floor leader, according to sources familiar with the situation.””The plea came five days before the House Republican caucus votes on a new leadership team for the next legislative session and comes amid rumblings that the caucus may want to look in a new direction to prepare for the 2008 elections. “”The names of Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer, (R-Bellaire), Rep. John Proos (R-St. Joseph), Rep. Dave Hildenbrand R-Lowell), Rep. Kevin Green (R-Wyoming) and Rep. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) are among those being mentioned as soon-to-be second-term lawmakers who would bring a fresh face to the GOP's drive to escape minority. “”Whether any of these candidates or Rep. Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan) will pull the trigger and make a concerted effort to run for House Minority Leader is yet to be seen, but likely. Sources indicate the most likely candidate would be Elsenheimer, a respected figure among caucus members who led the GOP's campaign operations in Northern Michigan. “

Stay tuned.

When in doubt wingnuts blame the “liberal media”

Ah, it’s great to see how the Republicans are spinning losing the U.S. House and Senate and the Michigan House of Representatives.

They could have chosen so many excuses, such as exceptionally high Democratic turnout at the polls, the unpopularity of the President, the Iraq fiasco or any number of reasons. One good one I want them to keep believing is that their candidates were not conservative enough, Yea, go with that one.

But when in doubt always roll out the old battle tested standard alibi of blaming the so-called “liberal media.” One rightwing bloggers in Livingston County known as the “suburban voice” laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of guess who. The media? Right.

Apparently, he must not read the editorial pages of the Gannett Corporation. Listen to this rant:

“The liberals in the news media are trying to tell us Republicans that we lost because of the war. They are doing this on purpose to diminish our support for the war thus paving the way for a pullout. Don’t fall for it.

The is the very same liberal media that mocks us, lies about us, distorts us, misrepresents us, and does everything it can to drive us out of power. But we are listening to that very same liberal media and its assessment of the effect of the war on the American voters? Are we crazy?

To answer his last question, duh.

Nov 9, 2006

The media and the ACLU Both share undeserved and unfair label

The press and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are two groups that not only stand for our basic American freedoms, they actually go out and fight for them everyday, yet both groups have been branded unfairly as liberal by rightwing zealots.
This case from Fenton hits close to home not only because it’s just over the Livingston County border up U.S. 23, but it also has been stuck an unfair label based on myth despite a track record of protecting and going to bat for conservative Republicans as well as liberal Democrats.

DETROIT -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit (Oct. 31) against the City of Fenton challenging the enforcement of its political sign ordinance after city officials ignored a letter urging the city to amend its ordinance and protect the rights of its residents.The ACLU of Michigan is representing Joseph Hood, a Fenton Township resident, who was told to remove two political signs promoting Dick Devos for Governor that were arranged in a V-shape at his place of business adjacent to US-23 in the City of Fenton. A Code Enforcement Officer notified Hood’s employee that the signs violated an ordinance forbidding the display a political sign over 4 square feet in size on one’s property or signs spaced closer than ten feet apart. “The courts have repeatedly told cities that such political sign ordinances are unconstitutional,” said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “Political speech is at the heart of a democratic process and the First Amendment rights that we all hold so dear do not hold second-place to commercial signs or the aesthetic preferences of city council members.” The courts have consistently ruled that cities cannot treat political speech less favorably than commercial speech. Nonetheless, non-political signs in Fenton can be larger than 4 square feet. Some, such as roadside stand signs and corporate flags, can be as large as 32 square feet. The Supreme Court has recognized the unique place that political yard signs play in our democracy and has noted that residents’ self-interest in keeping their neighborhood looking good generally makes government interference with residents’ First Amendment rights unnecessary.
Every election cycle the ACLU of Michigan sends letters to cities and townships reminding them that restrictions on political signs infringe on residents’ constitutional rights.
Before the 2004 election, the ACLU successfully sued the City of Troy on behalf of a President Bush supporter because the Troy ordinance made it a crime to erect a political sign more than 30 days before the election or to erect more than two political signs at a time. A federal court struck down the Troy ordinance as unconstitutional in January.

Ward will lose clout after Democratic House takeover, Duh

Although the tidal wave - or tsunami that state GOP chair Saul Anuzis called it - of anti- Republican sentiment managed to bypass Livingston County without getting any one wet, there is some good news. House Majority Floor Leader Chris Ward will now be the minority floor leader. The Brighton Republican's arrogance, rudeness and attitude completely soured the atmosphere in Lansing between the two parties, and his move to the sidelines will be a major plus for Michigan.

The bitterness and acrimony caused by Ward was so bad that you may recall an incident in June when Democratic Floor Leader Mary Waters of Detroit said she was trying to see the bills on the rostrum because Republicans, who hold a majority in the House, won't give Democrats a daily agenda when she was wrongly physically blocked from doing so by a House sergeant.

The story in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus today does not even scratch the surface by not going into how the Republicans completely shut out the Democrats from getting any bills out of committee and onto the floor, especially the Democrats they had targeted for defeat in the last election by putting politics over solving our state's problems, like Rep. Kathy Angerer after she unseated an incumbent Republican.

Let’s hope the Democrats don’t stoop to the level of the Republicans, but it will take a lot of will power not to do so after the Republican arrogance of the last 12 years.

Lansing was swept up in the Democratic electoral sweep on Tuesday, handing the state House of Representatives to the Democrats. That leaves the Republican-controlled Senate as the remaining check on Democratic power in the House and governor's office.
After Tuesday's election, the Democrats went from having a six-vote deficit and three unfilled seats to gaining a 58-52 majority.
The GOP's loss of power means that Livingston County's two representatives, Chris Ward of Brighton Township and Joe Hune of Hamburg Township, stand to lose considerable clout.
In the age of term limits, Ward worked himself up to the position of House majority floor leader at the tender age of 32. Now, with the Democrats taking over, Ward will spend the final two years of his career in the state House in the minority.
As majority floor leader, Ward worked with Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, to decide what legislation to move and when to move it. But when the new batch of lawmakers is sworn in January, Ward and the rest of the Republicans will be on the sidelines when those decisions are being made.
Hune chaired the House Insurance Committee, but will be relieved of that duty under Democratic control.
Neither Ward nor Hune could be reached for comment.
In the Senate, Republicans lost one seat in the 38-member chamber, leaving 21 GOP lawmakers.

Nov 8, 2006

GOP smear campaign against journalists is alive and well

This piece of trash hit my mail box on Monday the day before Election Day, courtesy of the Michigan Republican Party, and even though I have been the victim of Republican smear campaigns against the media in the past I was still amazed that this still goes on in this simple a form

“The Liberal media is pulling out all the stops to help the Democrats win on Election Day.” How? The real problem is the consolidation of media, and soon one huge mega corporation is going to own every media outlet in this country. We had a perfect example of it in the past election. I worked for Mike McGonegal, a Democratic candidate for the 66th District House seat, and the local newspaper endorsed our opponent without an endorsement interview with the decision coming from Gannett HQ in Virginia.

“They will say anything to discourage you from going to the polls this year.” Does anyone really believe after the Amway Guy pumped some $36 million into TV commercials that these very same corporate-owned TV stations are going to bite the hand that stuffs them and discourage voting. Get real.

This is typical of the Republican smear campaign against professional journalists that has gone on for years and is still going on.