Feb 7, 2007

County GOP naked power grab exposed

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus gets the award for understatement in a story today on the county Republican Party’s recent decision to trash the nonpartisan tag on school board races.

“Political parties and community groups are raising the profile of the campaigns and injecting a partisan atmosphere.” You think? You really mean one political party.

In last spring’s election the county GOP Executive Committee endorsed two members of that committee for the Howell School Board, and we were stuck with current board member Wendy Day and the negative statewide and national PR as closed-mined book burners.

Just a few weeks ago, the county GOP’s new chair circulated an e-mail to their members urging them to run for school board and offering candidate training and its membership as campaign workers.

An excerpt from the e-mail said, Miles Vieau (Treasurer of the Brighton School Board and a member of the GOP executive committee) and his team will help you with your campaigns by providing you with packets on “All the In’s and Out’s of running for School Board.” Miles and his team will also provide an overview of School Funding in Michigan, followed by questions and answers. The Republican Party has many concerned volunteers who may be willing to volunteer for your campaign should you be interested in running for the school board.

“It's always been political; it's just been kind of a quiet politics," Vieau said in the news article. "It's becoming more political."
But Vieau said it's naive to think the school board and judicial elections are not political, even if they are nonpartisan under the law. "Only in name ... they're not really nonpartisan," he said.

That’s a crock. The only good news is his seat is up for election, and he may not run. As someone who has paid attention to school board races in Michigan for 12 years that’s the first time I have ever heard that false observation.

An even scarier development in the school board races was the emergence of an anti-gay hate group known as the so-called “LOVE” PAC - (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) last spring, and one of its endorsed candidates, Day, won a seat in Howell. Ironically, the county GOP and the so-called "LOVE" candidates are the same people.

Vieau said the main issue Republicans care about in terms of schools is fiscal responsibility in the face of budget cuts. Vieau said there are basically two sides: "Some are for wages, and some are for fiscal responsibility."

He can’t be serious? That’s the only thing school board members have to be concerned with? He can’t possibly believe it's as simple as one side is for wages and one for “fiscal responsibility” We saw some of that Republican fiscal responsibility with the largest federal budget deficit in our nation’s history, and on the state level we saw the former Republican governor flee the state as fast as his sturdy legs could carry him leaving his predecessor with a $4 million hole. We can afford that kind of GOP “fiscal responsibility” in Livingston County.

Another disappointing thing is hearing that former long-time Howell School Board member Roger Dresden, who resigned in 2004, plans on running and pandering to the so-called “LOVE” group for their endorsement.

The group started a book banning controversy some three months ago by trying to ban a book called “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.” Since then, they have also tried to ban Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," and an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy." Both books address social issues of blacks in 1940s America and have been used for at least two years in an American literature class.

GOP Chairman Allan Filip said the party's Executive Committee will not issue endorsements, although individual members of the party are free to do so. Last year, a charged political questionnaire to judicial candidates was withdrawn by the party after it was deemed inappropriate.

That seems funny after endorsing last year and taking a huge active role in recruiting, training and offering campaign volunteers for the school board race this year the party is not going to endorse, too.

We need independents, progressives and liberals to run for school board to combat this naked power grab. Nominating petitions and affidavits for anyone 18 or older wishing to run for a four-year term are available at their county clerk’s office, municipal clerk’s office or school board office. The filing deadline for local, nonpartisan – at least in theory thanks to the Republicans - school board elections in May is 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Pinckney Community Schools has three seats up for election, Brighton Area Schools has two seats, Howell Public Schools has two, Fowlerville Community Schools has two seats and Hartland Consolidated Schools has one seat.

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