Mar 31, 2007

GOP plays rehab card again

The rehab card is played again by the GOP.

Republican have been making hay with the fact that Democratic Rep. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, was observed by a reporter driving on suspended license in a vehicle with an invalid plate last week after the reporter was tipped off by an anonymous caller. Another anonymous poster thought it so important I know that he made it a point of posting to let me know about it.

Incidentally, since that report Johnson’s driving privileges have been reinstated.

Less than a week later Rep. John Garfield, R- Rochester Hills, was arrested in the East Lansing area by Michigan State University campus police, according to a sketchy Associated Press report. The report said Garfield, 57, was arrested “early Thursday.”

The House was in session from noon to about 2:20 p.m. Thursday, but Garfield is listed in the House Journal for that day as excused. I guess being in jail is a pretty good excuse. This is Garfield’s second arrest in about 18 months, and Garfield pled guilty to a lesser charge of driving while impaired in the 2005 incident, according to the AP.

But the kicker is the reason he was allegedly driving drunk, and haven’t we heard this excuse coming from the GOP before.

Following his conviction in 2005, Garfield checked himself into a rehabilitation center, noting he had a problem that was aggravated by pain medication he has taken for several years, according to the AP.
''This is an ongoing battle he is fighting with alcohol,'' Dave Jessup, Garfield's chief of staff, said Friday. ''He is home in the district and is taking steps to deal with this.''

Say hello to Mark Foley for us.

Mar 29, 2007

Ward again pushes controversial and divisive bill

State Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton Township, is taking another shot at a bill that drew attention to his attitude that so soured relations between the two parties and killed bipartisanship in the House last session.

On March 21, Ward introduced House Bill 4505 that would identify Michigan drivers as U.S. citizens, or noncitizens, on their driver's licenses. It makes you wonder why Ward would introduce this bill now as a member of the minority party when he could not get the same bill passed in the last session when he was the Floor Leader for the majority party.

You may recall that as the chair of the House Oversight, Elections and Ethics Committee that was taking testimony on the bill, Ward threatened to forcibly remove a priest from the hearing room because he wanted to voice his opposition to the bill.

Rev. Cecilio Reyna, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Westphalla, was attending his first public hearing at the Capitol, and he came to Lansing from Westphalia to stand up and explain why he was against the proposed state law. He never got a chance and, in fact, was told that if he persisted in his attempts to voice his opinion at that particular time and place, he would be forcibly removed from the hearing room. Reyna was accused of interrupting the meeting. "Why I was not allowed to speak baffles me," Reyna told the Lansing State Journal in May of last year.

Reyna wanted to tell Ward and the Committee about his mother. He was never able to tell the Committee about his mother, but he was able to tell the public that his mother, a Mexican national, married an American GI in 1957, then lived in the U.S. as a noncitizen LEGAL resident for 40 years. She eventually became a citizen in 1997, but long before that she became a tax-paying resident with a job and a Social Security number.
In an e-mail, Reyna wrote: "My poor mother would have been quite distressed by some public official assuming she was not here legally because of her identification as a noncitizen. "I wanted to ask (the committee members) to show compassion by rejecting a bill that might cause similar distress to people who are not citizens, but are here legally."
That, Reyna concluded, was all he wanted to say.

The full House approved House Bill 6085 in May of last year by a vote of 76-27 where it went to where most bills go to die, the state Senate, and it died in the Senate Government Operations Committee. It was re-introduced this month by Ward and referred to the House Oversight and Investigations Committee, chaired by this session’s Majority Floor Leader Rep. Steve Tobocman, D-Detroit.

Tobocman voted against the bill last year, and he was very critical of the bill, saying it sent the wrong message as the state seeks global business ties. Hopefully, the committee will not take it up, but you can rest assured that debate, just like it is now allowed again on the House floor by the Democrats, will he heard on this bill from everyone who has an opinion.

Mar 28, 2007

Coulter disgusting quote of the week

It’s time again for the Ann Coulter quote of the week as we gear up for the princess of bigotry’s appearance at Cleary University’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series on Oct. 1.

"I don't think there's anything offensive about any variation of faggy, faggotry, faggot, fag.” March 6, 2007 on the Sean Hannity radio show.

As you are aware, there is a growing number of people trying to stop Coulter from coming to Livingston County, and we want to save Cleary from blowing $30,000 and embracing a hatemonger like Coulter.

One way we can do that is to contact the sponsors of the series and ask them to uninvited Coulter. This week we are highlighting the Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce. We have included the snail mail address, the email address and phone numbers of the board members. I urge you to contact them and politely express your concern with Coulter’s appearance. The most important point to be made is her appearance in Livingston County reinforces the general perception that Livingston County is a safe haven for racists and bigots of all ilks.

Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce
131 Hyne Street
Brighton, MI 48116
Fax: 810-227-5940
Pamela McConeghy
Executive Director

Reed Kittredge - President
WHMI-FM 93-5
P.O. Box 935
Howell, MI 48844

Bonnie Corrigan - Vice President
Corrigan Oil
775 N 2nd St.
Brighton, MI. 48116
(810) 229-0687

Matt Sova - Secretary/Treasurer
Matthew R. Sova, CPA, PC
10338 Citation Drive
Suite 200
Brighton, MI 48116
(810) 220-5710 Office
(810) 220-0153 Fax

Ed Bottum, Jr. - Past President
Refridgeration Research
524 N. Fifth St. PO Box 869
Brighton, MI 48116
Phone: (810) 227-1151
FAX: (810) 227-3700

Dave Beauchamp
Champs Pub
140 E. Grand River
Brighton, MI 48116
(810) 227-4443

Rick Fitzgerald
Livingston Community News

David Johnson
David G. Johnson, Attorney
8163 Grand River Rd Ste 100
Brighton, MI 48114-9482
(810) 227-1700

Kate Lawrence
Lawrence Auto Body
306 W Grand River Ave
Brighton, MI 48116
(810) 227-9444

Thomas Lawrence
National City Bank

Mike McManus
Micro Works Computing, Inc.
210 S. East St.
(810) 229-6781 Fax (810) 229-6818
Brighton, MI 48116

Dan Mulvihill
Real Estate One
8685 W Grand River
Brighton, MI 48116

Brandon Peabody
Smith Peabody Stiles Insurance
315 E. Grand River Ave.
Brighton, MI 48116

Scott Spitler
Brighton Ford Mercury
8240 W Grand River
Brighton, MI 48114
Main: (800) 836-8206 Fax: (810) 227-5206

Rick Beaudin
Michigan Group Realtors
6870 Grand River Ste 200
Brighton, MI 48114
Cell: (810) 533-4343
Office: (810) 844-2685

Mar 27, 2007

Coulter continues to say decency and respect does not apply to her

Just days after rightwing hatemonger and bigot Ann Coulter’s disgusting attack on Presidential Candidate Sen. John Edwards the queen of hate was telling people she can say what ever disgusting and hateful thing that pops in her head and get away with it.

This is what she had to say on rightwing talk show Hannity & Colmes just a few days after calling Edwards a “faggot.”
"This is the same thing we go through every six months. I say something, the same people become hysterical, and that's the end of it. I mean, I think the lesson young right-wingers ought to draw from this is it's really not that scary to attack liberals. This is about my 17th allegedly career ending moment."

Not only are some sane and reasonable people in Livingston County trying to stop her from earning $30,000 for two hours work and further sully the image of Livingston County and reinforce it as a safe haven for racists and bigots of all ilks, like Coulter, but the nation is taking action as well. Media Matters for America – a web-based, non-profit research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media – is listing the contact information for the 39 newspapers across the country that carry her column. So far, nine have agreed to drop the column, including the Oakland Press here in Michigan.

Coulter is set to speak at Cleary University’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series on Oct. 1 to spread her unique bigotry and hate here in Livingston County. There is a small but earnest group of people trying to persuade Clearly President Tom Sullivan to drop Coulter in favor of someone less repugnant and not give her a platform to spread her disgusting outbursts.

You can do that by contacting Sullivan at:

President Tom Sullivan
Cleary University
3750 Cleary Drive
Howell, MI 48843
Phone: 517.548.3670

After white-hot publicity over vandalism it disappears for catching the vandals

A week after U. S. Rep. Mike Rogers Lansing District office was vandalized, at least one newspaper finally got around to publishing the photo from the security camera of the alleged vandal.

You may recall, the vandalism on March 18-19 saw the door locks glued shut, the building was spray-painted, a "Support Our Troops" sign attached to the front of the building was splattered with blood-red paint and a hand-painted sign was also plastered to an entryway window that said “Rogers There is Blood on Your Hands.” The news was quickly picked up by just about every newspaper in the state, on TV news and even in some national publications.

It didn’t take long for the Rogers people to make political hay with it to condemn the alleged “violent peace protestors,” and Rogers’ family even received extra protection by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department. The photo was released four days ago. But to date - at least that I am aware of – only the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus published a photo of the suspect. It seems inconceivable to me with all the attention and heat from this incident that there is now very little publicity generated to actually catch the vandal. The Lansing Police Department believes at least two people are involved.

Sylvia Warner, a spokeswoman for the Republican lawmaker's office, said the vandalism appeared to be related to the Iraq war, and is the "worst" the office has experienced.
Rogers' Lansing office has been the target of vandals a number of times, Warner said.

Really? How many times? Warner is a former journalist, and most journalists will at least estimate the number of times to give readers an idea of the amount of activity, using terms like “more than two,” “less than 1,” or “at least twice,” etc.

The aggressive destruction of federal property and vandalism was a callous attempt to intimidate Congressman Rogers and his staff," Rogers' chief of staff, Andy Keiser, said at the time.
Rogers said the aggressiveness of the attack was most disturbing, and that similar attacks are popping up across the country.
Rogers also feared for his family's safety, especially that of his children.
"I really want them to worry about their math homework, not some war protester doing harm to them or their property," he said.

That is perhaps the most absurd statement from the Rogers camp among many about this regrettable incident. There seems to be a lot of indigent outrage and exaggeration from the Rogers camp, but there doesn’t seem to be much effort to catch this person.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Investigator James Thornburg at (517) 483-4611.

Mar 26, 2007

Bad drivers come from both parties

A kind commentator helpfully pointed out to me today what a criminal Highland Park lawmaker Rep. Bert Johnson is because he drove to work last week on a suspended license in a vehicle with an invalid plate.

This person, who was afraid to take ownership of what he write and posted anonymously, took me task because Johnson is a Democrat and I, of course, ignored his bad behavior. I didn’t ignore it because I didn’t know about it. But to alleviate that alleged oversight, here's the link and highlights from the Detroit Free Press story.

Johnson is a member of the House Insurance Committee, which, among other things, oversees the regulation of auto insurance.
The Free Press inquired about Johnson's driving record after receiving an anonymous phone call suggesting the representative was driving without a license. The Secretary of State routinely notifies elected officials when their driving records are obtained by the media, and Johnson's office was contacted Thursday morning.
Johnson said he was not aware the license plate on the vehicle he had been driving to the Capitol, a 2001 Jaguar, was invalid. Secretary of State records show its registration expired Feb. 21 when a renewal check was returned for insufficient funds. Johnson, a Democrat and chairman of the Detroit caucus in the House, said he has "no excuse. I understand the seriousness of it. I shouldn't be doing it." He promised to not get behind the wheel again until it is legal for him to do so.

Like I told my nameless poster, Johnson’s judgment is questionable, and I probably would not vote for him if I could when he’s up for re-election.

However, he conveniently failed to mention the Free Press also checked the driving records of the rest of the Insurance Committee.

According to the Free Press, Others with traffic woes include:
• Two other speeders, Rep. Joe Hune, R-Whitmore Lake, and Rep. David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc. They have four speeding tickets each since 2000.

Now, I am, or was able to vote for Hune, and I did not. However, I took a lot more into account than his driving record. What this all means is entirety up to you. If you think Johnson and Hune’s other attributes outweigh these transgressions, that’s up to you in the voting booth.

Mar 24, 2007

Senate Republicans launch sneak attack in the dead of the night

Many of us are reeling on this damp but warm Saturday trying to digest the Senate Republicans dirty and irresponsible sneak attack on Michigan residents with the passing of Senate Bill 220 in the dead of night on Thursday.

I have to agree with Dohn Hoyle, executive director of the Arc Michigan, a Lansing-based group that supports programs for the developmentally disabled, quoted in a Associated Press story today: "It's mean-spirited and gutless,” he said. I agree.

After keeping this plan secret for a month to avoid such criticisms and to keep their sneak attack under wraps using such extraordinary measures as refusing to allow Senate Republican and staffers even to write it down, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop sprang it on the public Thursday evening when most people had already left Lansing. The 38-page document was rushed through committee and then right to the Senate floor to be passed an hour later with no one even having the time to read it let alone understand the ramifications of the irresponsible cuts.

Generally when a bill is introduced, the non-partisan Senate Fiscal Agency and the Legislative Service Bureau do an analysis of the bill that includes such things as the pros and cons, the fiscal impact and who supports the bill and who opposes it. The SFA then does another analysis of the bill after it leaves committee. Of course, none of that happened. The Senate GOP played a shell game and introduced a blank, shell bill on Feb. 21, and then it filled in the blanks an hour before the bill was passed.

This happened around 8 p.m. Thursday night, and the damage this bill will do to the state is still unclear because there are only a few news stories out there while people figure out how badly it will hurt and who it will hurt. Since this is for the budget we are currently in, the Senate Republicans know there is little time to change things, and many government agencies and school boards are just happy to know how much they will have to cut, how many people they will have to fire and how many schools they will have to close.

Those hardest hit, of course, are the most vulnerable of our citizens; the poor, the elderly and the sick, Perhaps Bishop is gambling they don’t vote, hold much power or give campaign contributions.

Bishop said the cuts are "painful" but argued that the GOP plan would adequately fund public safety, education and health care and help turn around Michigan.
"Once you get used to a certain level of government, it's hard to trim it back," Bishop said. "But we also know that we have an obligation to the state, to the citizens that we represent, to downsize government."

Maybe he hasn’t lived in the state very long or paid much attention to history. Government in Michigan has been downsized to the point we are hurting out chances of coming out of his economic mess. If we refuse to invest in our own state why would a business or company want to invest in Michigan?

Taxes have been cut 30 times since 1993, and we are more than competitive with other states in base tax rates. We have less state employees now than we had in 1973 despite having 2 million more people. Under former Republican Gov. Bill Milliken we had 52,673 state employees. In 2000 under former Republican Gov. John Engler there were 61,493 state employees. In 2006 there were only 52,255 employees.

Revenue sharing to local governments - the communities we live in – were stiffed by $40 million. This is money already budgeted because the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, and this will leave them little time to adjust their spending to reflect the lost dollars. Livingston County will see a loss of $402,000, and the City of Howell will see a loss of more than $37,000.

"It's a failure of the Legislature to step up to plate and really correct a problem they have failed to fix," said Farmington Hills Mayor Vicki Barnett. "They're cutting our money that rightfully belongs to us."
Barnett said the cuts would affect communities differently, with some possibly having to lay off police officers and firefighters.

So much for Bishop’s ridiculous claim that his Top Secret plan would adequately fund public safety. In fact, since September 11, 2001 when all we can talk about is being safe, protecting our borders and keeping us safe from terrorists we have 1,600 less police officers on the street because of the 15 straight years of tax cuts. We can certainly add to that number.

If we win this race to the bottom we lose, and there will be nothing to attract and retain business to Michigan. There is no way we can have less taxes, lower wages and less services than the Philippines, Mexico or China. Hell, why would we want to?

Mar 22, 2007

Senate GOP rams cuts through

For some great TV tune in to Senate TV on the Senate web site. At this late hour – 7:30 p.m. – the Senate is still debating Senate Bill 220, the Appropriations Supplemental.

After just being discharged from the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate now has to approve a 38-page bill without even reading it, at lest for the Democrats.

This is the Top Secret plan Mike Bishop took so much trouble to keep from everyone. Sen. Liz Brater had the best quote.

“I’m not surprised it took you so long to revel these cuts,” she said. I would be embarrassed too.”

Just from the debate the cuts include reductions of $65.3 million from Community Health, $14.7 in Transportation and $35 million from Human Services.

Senate GOP trades one latte mocha a week for $377 million education cut

Apparently, giving up one cup latte mocha at Starbuck a week was too much for Senate Republicans, and they voted down the Governor’s plan for a 2-penny investment on services.

The Republicans could not afford $1.33 a week, so they rejected Senate Bill 307 that implements the bipartisan 2-penny tax by an almost straight party vote of 22-16. Instead of adjusting to the changing U.S. economy, the Senate Republicans preferred to stay in the past, and they will try and implement cuts in the very services that attract and retain business to the state. The shortsighted decision will create a Catch-22 situation ensuring the economic crisis will only get worse.

One of the cuts Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop has been guarding like it was the Holy Grail finally came to light today when they cut $377 million from the school aid fund. That will means a $34 cut per student in the current school year that ends in a couple of months.

That $1.33 investment the Senate Republicans refuse to invest in their state and pay their fair share will cost Howell Public Schools alone more than $2.8 million.

The Republicans still want to cut $600 million from the current budget, but you can be sure the planed cuts will be secret until they are actually made, so that there will be no opposition from the public or criticism of the Senate GOP.

The only good news is the saner House intends to work on its own plan that will involve cuts, reforms and likely tax increases. The Democratic controlled House is so committed to solving the budget crisis that also keeps the essential services intact that are so vital to our economic recovery that they have canceled its two-week spring break that was to start April 3.

EO is public: Senate plan still Top Secret

In what has to be the shortest committee meeting in history, a meeting of the joint House and Senate Appropriations committees just broke up after some 10 minutes, and the House accepted the Governor’s Executive Order that, according to subscription only Gongwer, cuts $344 million in spending.

After finally getting Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop to the table with his Top Secret budget plan, the Governor, the budget director, the state Treasurer, the Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House met with Bishop for the past two days

The Senate Appropriations Committee is set to being meeting at 3:30 p.m. to consider accept the executive order, but the committee is then expected to approve the negative supplemental to close out the total estimated $950 million shortfall in the current budget.

O f course, the Senate cuts are still the best kept secret in the state because Bishop does not have the backbone to tell the public, who he works for, what the cuts will be. We assume they will come out at the Appropriations Committee meeting, but in light of the extraordinary measure he has taken in the last 36 days or so to keep the plan from us, if he indeed has a plan, nothing will surprise me.

Mar 21, 2007

Anti-family party stoops to new low in grasping for straws

Recent events have led us to believe the Republic Party is anti-family, petty and means-spirited, and the newest thing they are up in arms about confirms that.

Stop the Presses? Alert the media? Governor Jennifer Granholm took an hour today from the budget meeting where Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop finally showed up for to have lunch with her teenage daughter on her birthday.

According to subscription only Gongwer and the Associated Press, Michigan Republican staff were also having lunch in the same Okemos restaurant – why it’s OK for them and not the Governor no one has an answer – as the governor.

The staffers immediately blew the whistle on this clandestine meeting by sending emails to reporters to alert them that the Governor was having lunch with her middle daughter. How dare she! The Governor went to the lunch after making only brief comments to the annual meeting of the Michigan Municipal League. The Governor’s spokesperson said the Governor had asked the group to allow her to keep the remarks brief so she could have lunch with her daughter. But “Ms. Granholm indicated to those attending the luncheon that she was leaving to return to the budget meetings.”

The fact that she did return to the meeting that lasted until 6 p.m. is apparently lost on the whistleblowers. The conservative blogs – well if you want to call that thing that Saul Anuzis operates a blog since he doesn’t have the nerve allows comments – were abuzz with the “breaking news.”

A poorly written, Michigan Liberal pretender called “Right Michigan” was accusing the governor of lying to the MML and that the governor slipped into the restaurant wearing a, God forbid, New York Yankees cap instead of a Detroit Tigers cap.

As everyone knows, the Senate Republicans rejected the Governor’s Executive Order to balance the budget without one of their own more than a month ago on Feb. 14. When they finally came up with this alleged Top Secret plan of their own they took such extraordinary measures to keep the plan from the public that Senators and staffers could not even write it down for fear of the public knowing any actual details about the plan

It’s sad that the anti-family party is making this an issue when Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop could not find one single hour in the 36 days since the Senate Republicans irresponsibly rejected the EO last month to meet with the Governor.

Can anyone tell me what Bishop was doing on Monday - or even one of the GOP flunkies on the Senate Appropriations Committee – that he could not drive to Lansing and meet with the Governor?

They’re also making a big deal abut the closed-door meeting and the doors of the meeting being locked. I’m sure that’s Bishop’s doing because the Governor’s plan has been public for almost two months, and she has been hammered for the cuts she needs to make. Bishop is giving us a song and dance about being able to balance the budget with cuts and budget gimmicks alone, but to keep you and I from knowing what he wants to cut he is keeping his alleged plan as Top Secret as the Manhattan Project. But we’re now supposed to believe it’s the Governor’s fault the meeting is behind closed doors.

This just shows how sad, desperate and bankrupt the Republic Party is in Michigan.

New weekly feature: Coulter outrageous quote of the week

With the appearance of rightwing hatemonger Ann Coulter at Cleary University’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series less than seven months away we here at the Conservative Media are starting a new feature. We will examine the body of Coulter’s “work” by posting one of her offensive, hateful and ridiculous quotes every week leading up to her appearance in October.

The goal of this campaign is to save Cleary University more than $30,000 and the embarrassment of embracing this woman’s discriminatory positions. Her appearance will also reinforce the general perception that Livingston County is a safe haven for racists and bigots of all ilks, like Coulter. To quote a friend of mine about Coulter’s appearance, “While I fully endorse the concept that the University should be a marketplace of ideas, I maintain that racism and bigotry are not products worthy of barter in that marketplace.”

We will also be staring a campaign to pressure the sponsors, as well as the university, not to embrace and promote her racist and discriminatory views. We would no more invite the Klan here to speak, so why are we inviting Coulter and paying her 30 grand to do it? Toward than end we will also be posting contacts of the groups and people sponsoring her appearance.

The Coulter quote of the week:
“Oh, and I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards. But it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word "faggot," so I'm -- so I'm kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards. So I think I'll just conclude here and take your questions.” March 2, 2007, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

If you want to contact Cleary University and tell them this is unacceptable here’s how:

President Tom Sullivan
Cleary University
3750 Cleary Drive
Howell, MI 48843
Phone: 517.548.3670

Mar 20, 2007

Newspaper takes heat for doing its job

In another Republican letter writing campaign, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus published three letters taking them to task for daring to revel the finances and irresponsibility of an elected office, including one from a former Republican state Representative and Senator.

Maybe I don’t understand how investigative journalism works, but isn’t the job of a journalist to report on the finances and wrongdoing of an elected official? Also, where else will a company give you the platform to blast them?

As everyone knows, the home of Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton Township, and his ex-wife is in foreclosure. That’s public record because a required legal ad appeared in the P & A. The bigger question maybe why the newspaper sat on the story for a week until the Detroit News broke the story first. This newspaper has bent over backward to not ask any tough questions or be critical of Ward.

The newspaper reported back in February of 2006 about Ward’s divorce. Now, the life of a public official should be an open book, and divorce is one thing that we should know about, especially when you try and paint yourself as the party and candidate of family values. We should know even more if that person makes is alleged family values a campaign issue and uses that family as a campaign prop. If your campaign web site uses this tag: “Chris Ward is a committed conservative who will fight for limited government, low taxes and family values” then I think your family situation is an issue. If you also use your family as a prop then your family values are even more of an issue.

Former state Fred Dillingham wrote a letter saying personal matters should stay private. Then we should do way with laws that require candidates to revel their finances and other conflict of interest and campaign finance laws. Dillingham writes; “Unfortunately, many choose to seize the opportunity to expose the personal lives of public officials with little or no consideration to the impact it has on their children and others who fall victim to this type of public disclosure.” The finances and lack of judgment of elected officials has nothing to do with their personal life, but it has everything to do with their character or lack of character.

M. Battison, of Genoa Township writes, “I really think the editorial staff screwed up and should be reprimanded for allowing this gossip piece to be published. In the future, please think before you publish; ask if it's newsworthy and serves the public interest. There's enough gossip out there already without the need for articles like this one.”

This is not gossip it’s public record. The gossip has been around for a long time, but no one reported or printed it. The finances, judgment and morals of our elected leaders are more than newsworthy.

Laura Bickel of Howell writes, “When is enough, enough? Divorce is a tragic pandemic in our society; it is painful for all involved. Is it really necessary to revel in someone else's private pain and then further shame them by boldly announcing their sad financial predicament?”

We have a 50 percent divorce rate in this country, but I guarantee the foreclosure rate is not nearly that high. Divorce does not automatically mean you lose your home, and the fact remains Ward has a place to live; his family does not. In this economy there are many people losing their homes everyday because of lost jobs and loss of income. However, people who make nearly $100,000 a year have no excuse, in my opinion. It’s about responsibility, priorities and judgment.

GOP budget plan still secret even after meeting

The Republican spin doctors are going at it full time trying to defend Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s decision to stand up the Governor on Monday to talk about balancing the current budget with an estimated $900 million shortfall.

Last month the Senate Appropriations Committee, controlled by Republicans, rejected the Governor’s Executive Order that would have balanced the budget with a mix of cuts and a 2-penny tax on services that would have cost the average family less than the price of a cup of coffee a week. Of course, the Republicans did not have a plan of their own, and for the past month they have been teasing us by telling they have a plan that will balance this budget with cuts and one-time budget gimmicks alone. However, this alleged Top Secret plan is a bigger secret than the Manhattan Project.

Our own Sen. Valde Garcia (R-Howell) – a member of the Appropriations committee who could have been in on the negotiations on Monday representing Bishop - defended Bishop’s absence in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, yet all we hear is how urgent the budget is. Bishop actually had the nerved to say this after not being able to find the time Monday to meet with the Governor: The budget should have been fixed "yesterday.”

Garcia said "it bothers me immensely" that two months have passed since the projected $900 million budget deficit came to light and there has been no resolution.

Me too, so why are you dragging your feet and refuse to even disclose let along revel your alleged plan?

The good news is they met on Tuesday, but Bishop’s plan is still secret. I, and everyone else, suspected this was Bishop playing politics all along, and the Republicans confirmed that today. The Governor has been battered in the press, by special interest groups and citizens for the cuts she is proposing, and all because she had the backbone to be up front about the difficult choices and be a leader to let residents what will be cut. Legislative offices in Lansing – including the one I work in – have been flooded with emails, letters and phone calls urging Legislators not to cut MSU Extension, Education, Libraries, and funding for the arts and every other proposed department and area in the budget.

Bishop has taken extraordinary measures to keep the public from knowing what he plans to cut until the last minute to avid any criticism or responsibility. Those measures have included not allowing staffers and Legislators to write any of the plan down to keep it as secret as possible. The Governor plans to propose another EO Thursday to balance the budget, and it will. Give Bishop and his cronies further cover from responsibility and criticism.

Subscription only Gongwer reported the meeting today between the Governor, Bishop and House Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford Twp.) lasted five hours.

Unclear from the discussions was whether Mr. Bishop turned over all the details of the Senate Republican budget proposal.
Republicans have insisted that Democrats, including Budget Director Bob Emerson, had been given the details of the proposal, and Democrats just as stridently have said they have not. A Senate Republican official on Tuesday acknowledged that written copies of the proposal had not been given Democrats, at least partially out of concern that it would get public and generate criticism.

Those bad old Democrats cannot be trusted with a secret. They have this ridiculous notion of open government and not keeping secrets from the public.

Mar 19, 2007

Democrats truly ‘Support the Troops’

As candlelight vigils all over the country today mark the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and honor the more than 3,200 U.S. Servicemen and Women who have been killed and the estimated 100,000 that have been wounded in that occupation it’s interesting to look at the support those wounded and returning veterans are getting from their government when they return from the battlefield and other areas.

The nonpartisan Project Vote Smart has put together the grading criteria for Washington politicians of some veterans organizations that provide support to and a voice for veterans. We hear a lot from Republicans about how they support the troops and Democrats do not, but for most of the Republicans that means little more than waving a flag, putting a bumper sticker on their car and tying a ribbon around a tree.

According to the Disabled American Veterans of America that represents all of America's 2.1 million disabled veterans, their families and survivors, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers received a 66 percent on DAV’s issues, compared to 100 for Sen. Debbie Stabenow and 80 percent for Sen. Carl Levin. Michigan’s Democratic Senators have done more than just talk the talk like Rogers and others like him, but they have walked the walk. The good news is the attempt by Rogers to distance himself from Bush and his first contested race since he was elected to Congress in 2000 improved Rogers’ rating from 0 in 2005 and 2004.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Rogers a grade of C, but unfortunately, they did not give him a rating last year. The mission of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is to ensure the enactment of policies that properly provide for our troops and veterans. A mission Rogers only gives lip service to. In sharp contrast to Rogers’s lack of real support for the troops are the A- earned by Stabenow and the B+ earned by Levin.

Supporting the troops means a whole lot more than waving a flag and saying you “support the troops.” For a look at more veteran's ratings check out Project Vote Smart.

Mar 18, 2007

Being in the minority helps Rogers develop a conscience

Mike Rogers has finally gained a conscience and gained the desire to try and place a check on the Bush Administration’s roll back of civil liberties, actually do some oversight and conduct an investigation of some of this administration’s wrong-doing. What’s the reason for the conversion of Bush’s biggest cheerleader? Simple. He’s in the minority.

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus –long a supporter of Rogers - reports:
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, has been a strong supporter of the Patriot Act. However, he said a lack of clear guidelines may make it too easy for unwarranted views into private personal and business records.
Rogers said a congressional committee he sits on should look into possible FBI mismanagement of domestic intelligence-gathering methods. Rogers, a fourth-term representative, is a former FBI agent.
A recent U.S. Department of Justice report found weak internal control over "national security letters," a tool created by the Patriot Act in 2001 to ease the collection of information — like business and phone records — in national-security investigations.

Is this a new thing? Of course not, but since the committee is now controlled by Democrats there will finally be some oversight and accountability for a change. Where was Rogers for the last six years?

Although we know Rogers had no choice on what the committee looks at because he is a minority member, we can rest assured there will be no tough questions from him. Rogers remains a Bush cheerleader, although not quite as vocal, and we just need to take a look at his stance on U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Despite other Republicans asking for his resignation over the firings of Bush appointees who refused to illegally target Bush enemies, the controversy over renewal of the Patriot Act and a report last week that the FBI had underreported its use of national security letters to snoop on Americans, Rogers said Gonzales should stay.

Rogers, typically a strong supporter of the Bush administration, also said that the recent controversy over U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the firing of several U.S. attorneys was not handled well. The administration has denied accusations that the attorneys were let go for political reasons.
"It was generally not well-done," Rogers said, but he refused to join a handful of Republicans who have called for Gonzales to resign. He said he'd rather let the situation play itself out.

Mar 17, 2007

Mark the Anniversary of the Iraq occupation with your neighbors and loved ones

Monday marks the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq because the weapons of mass destruction they had were an imminent threat to the United States. Despite that being not true, we are still there, and to date more than 3,200 U.S. Servicemen and Women have been killed - including 135 with Michigan ties and nine from Livingston County; more than the entire 16-year conflict in Vietnam - and almost 100,000 have lost limbs and suffered massive head injures.

There will be vigils marking the deadly anniversary all over the country and state, and for us in Mid-Michigan there are at least four vigils within quick driving distance.

Over in neighboring Oakland County in Milford, a vigil will be held at 7 p.m. at Milford Central Park at N. Main Street between Huron & Liberty. From US-23 take the M-59 (Hartland) exit. M-59 east to Milford Rd in Highland. Take Milford Rd south through downtown. Central Park is on the right just past Liberty St. From I-96 take the Milford/New Hudson exit north on Milford Rd which ends at G.M. Rd. Turn right on G.M. which turns into Huron. At the 1st traffic light turn left on N. Main St. Watch for the Park on your left.

A peace vigil will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Post office in Chelsea, 200 S. Main Street.

A candlelight vigil will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Liberty Plaza Park in Ann Arbor, at the southwest corner of E. Liberty and S. Division.

Another candlelight vigil will be held at 8 p.m. in Ann Arbor at the Corner of Kingsley & Ashley.

To find out more details, directions or for a vigil closer to where you live or work go to

Ward calls the kettle black

I almost fell out of my chair with disbelief and shock when I read this headline from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus web site where it teases the next day ‘s stories: “LOCAL: Communication in Lansing is at a low point, says state rep.”

Even more amazing: “Communication among state government leaders in Lansing is at the worst level he's ever witnessed, says state Rep. Chris Ward.”

Is he for real? No wonder Ward has no credibility. If he wants to see a time when “communications among state government leaders in Lansing was worse” he only needs to look back three months ago when he was the Majority Floor Leader. It’s the height of hypocrisy for Ward to say that, and I wonder if he said it with a straight face. I also wonder if the reporter, Dan Meisler, wrote it with a straight face. He knows better.

(Corection) When this was posted, the story posted was based on a teaser on the P & A web site on Saturday with no byline. I assumed it would be written by political reporter Dan Mesler. Hover, it was actually written and ran the next day by Executive Editor Rich Perlberg.
I apologize to Dan, and I was shocked that he would write such an uncritical, one-sided piece. I should have known he would not and could not be the author.
I apologize for the mistake.

As the floor leader, Ward decided what would go before all the members on the House floor. Here are just a few of his heavy-handed tactics that soured relationships between the two parties and made bipartisanship under Ward's great job of communicating and alleged “leadership:

As the chair of the House Oversight, Elections and Ethics Committee, Ward threatened to forcibly remove and arrest Father Cecilio Reyna, pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church, for daring to try and express his opinion on a bill that would identify Michigan drivers as U.S. citizens or noncitizens on their driver's licenses.

By David Eggert Associated Press
Partisan acrimony in the state House became especially bitter Thursday when a top Democratic lawmaker said a House sergeant wrongly blocked her from seeing what bills were in a box to be taken up that day by the chamber.
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. Ward stopped a custom - likely started within the last decade - of making their daily voting plan available to Democrats.

Ward and the Republicans stifled all debate on the House floor, kept Democrats from getting any bills before the full House, kept Democrats from certain swing districts from even getting as much as a tribute or resolution to the floor, illegally blocked action on some legislation and House Democrats had to even ask Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox to launch a criminal investigation against Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Kooiman and Republican Floor Leader Chris Ward for some relief.

New Speaker of the House Andy Dillon has brought actual debate back to the House Floor, and he has been trying work with both House minority and the Senate Majority on the budget. He has been working behind the scenes for months, but he’s not seeking headlines like Ward.

Last month the Senate rejected the Governor’s Executive Order to balance the budget without a plan of their own, and when the Senate GOP finally got one, they guarded it like it was the Holy Grail or the Manhattan Project. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop says he has a plan to balance the budget with just spending cuts and one-time gimmicks, but he has threatened other senators and staffers with the sentence of death if they dare leak any details of the plan or let them know what the cuts are.

The Governor has been battered for more than a month for the brave stance she took by leveling with the public about what painful cuts must be made and trying to address the structural deficits the state faces, but Bishop has hid them from the public while people like Ward go out and spin a plan he and the Republicans are afraid to even show the voters.

Mar 15, 2007

County Democrats put their money where their ideals are

The Livingston County Democratic Party is donating $1,000 toward the reward leading to the arrest of the vandals involved in a racially motivated crime in Hamburg Township, according to the Ann Arbor News.

On March 4, vandals broke into the Portage Lake home and cut mattresses with a knife, shredded and spray-painted clothing and sprayed paint on the walls and curtains, including the words “Go Nigger" scrawled on the wall.

Several donors, including the Livingston County Democratic Party, are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who broke into a Hispanic woman's home last week, wrecked the interior, and spray-painted it with racial slurs. The Livingston County Democratic Party is donating $1,000 of the reward with the rest coming from anonymous donors.

"We want to send a message that the majority of Livingston County residents are caring and responsible people, said Democratic Party Chairman Matt Evans. "The ignorant, hateful individuals who did this don't represent our community.''

Hamburg Township Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call police at (810) 231-9391.

Howell kids get inspirational teacher: Adults get hatemonger

Best-selling author and inspirational teacher Erin Gruwell took time from her appearance at the Flint Public Library Wednesday to speak to about 40 students from Howell High School.

Gruwell, along with her former students at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif., is the coauthor of “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.”

The anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) managed to briefly ban the inspirational book from HHS’s advanced 10th grade English class because of alleged profanity and references to drugs and sex acts. That brief success sparked a censorship campaign that also included a move to ban Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five.”

Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reporter Dan Meisler and photographer Al Ward did an excellent job capturing the emotion and feel of the event where the students talked about the discrimination they face, see and experience.

Another student, junior Kelsea Raether, said she feels another type of discrimination — when she's afraid that she gets tainted by Howell's reputation as a racist community. She said she's been advised to take off her Howell High letter jacket when she goes to other parts of the state.
Gruwell encouraged them to dispel those negative stereotypes of Howell — which largely come from the fact that a Ku Klux Klan leader lived in Cohoctah Township until 1992.
"Wear that Howell jacket with pride," she said. "Tell them, 'This is the Howell we know.”
Gruwell also praised Cathy Capy, the Howell English teacher who assigned the book, for her courage, and announced she would be flown to California for training with the Freedom Writers Foundation. The foundation also was filming a documentary during the event.

Maria Reyes, one of Gruwell’s students and one of the co-authors, defended parts of the book “love” objected to.

The profanity, she said, was important to include because it reflects the reality of what the students in Long Beach heard and spoke every day.
"We wanted to make a book that was real," she said.
Passages on racism were included to give the lesson "people treat you the way to treat them."
And writing and publishing the stories about sexual abuse and molestation were important ways to testify about the abuse certain students suffered — and resulted in the perpetrators being punished.
"These stories are not titillating. These stories are not to arouse," Reyes said. "This is about young women standing up and saying 'You can't do this to me.' "

Some of the students also talked about what gave rise to the formation of “love.”

Sophomores Stephanie Onderchanin and Miranda Miller said they would take Gruwell's message about not putting up with racist comments to heart, and extended it to use of the word "gay" to disparage people.

Ann Coulter, Vicky Fyke, Alan Filip, Tom Sullivan and Cleary University are you listening? Why don’t you bring someone in like Erin Gruwell with a positive message to speak at Cleary’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series instead of a hatemonger like Ann Coulter?

Mar 14, 2007

House Minority Floor Leader’s home in foreclosure

Months of rumors were confirmed on March 8 when a required legal ad buried in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported that the home of Chris Ward, R-Brighton Township, and his ex-wife is in foreclosure. However, it took the Detroit News to actually report the story that his Brighton Township home will be sold at auction next month.

These were just some of the rumors that were flying around during the last election season, but we chose not to talk about rumors. According to the Detroit News, the lawmaker and his ex-wife owe $158,292 on the home, worth $93,320, according to the county's assessed value.

The News reported Ward's 12-year marriage officially ended on Jan. 17, although court records show he moved out of the house in June 2005, filing for divorce five months later. It also reported the wife’s attorney said the lawmaker was responsible for the mortgage payments until the divorce was finalized.
"At that point foreclosure was imminent. A lot of payments had been missed. It was clear she certainly could not pay it and he was the bread winner," said attorney Marcia M. McClure of Bingham Farms.

This is being spun as a result of the high foreclosure rate in Michigan. However, that’s because many people have lost jobs or suffered a loss of work hours, lost overtime or took a cut in pay or commissions. As the Minority Floor Leader, Ward makes $91,650 annually, according to the Press & Argus’s annual Public Payroll feature, not including allowances for mileage and other expenses. Before being elected in 2002, Ward was the Brighton Township Clerk where he earned $45,500 a year.

Mar 13, 2007

Target of anti-gay hate group’s censorship campaign to appear in Michigan

Best-selling author and inspirational teacher Erin Gruwell will be appearing nearby at the Flint Public Library tomorrow (Wednesday) to talk to area students about her book, “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.”

Gruwell began teaching at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif. that was plagued with gang and racial violence, and she found herself trying to educate students whom many deemed "unteachable." Gruwell encouraged the students to become critical thinkers by reading such books as "The Diary of Anne Frank." Through poignant student entries and Erin’s narrative text, the book chronicles their “eye-opening, spirit-raising odyssey against intolerance and misunderstanding.” Gruwell is being portrayed by Academy Award-winning actress Hillary Swank in the movie based on the book that’s playing in area theatres.

Gruwell will speak at the library three times during the day. She will host a reservation only teen author program at 10 a.m., and she will talk about her book, censorship and freedom of speech at 4 p.m. A meet-the-author session is set for 7 p.m., during which time Gruwell's books will be available for purchase and signing.

Here in Howell, the inspirational book was briefly banned from Howell Public School’s advanced 10th grade English class because of alleged profanity and references to drugs and sex acts. The censorship quest was driven by anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education), and the campaign also saw the group try to ban and censor Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five.”

The five-month censorship quest saw some bizarre twists that included the FBI looking for dirty words, and “love” claming teachers, bus drivers, the lunch lady and the janitor were pornographers. Cooler and saner heads finally prevailed, and the embarrassing episode was just put to bed last week. However, “love” is still out there.

Over on Daily KOS, they are reporting “love” and other small-minded censors plan on being there to disrupt Gruwell. I don’t know where that information is coming from or if it’s true, but I urge all people who love books, detest censorship, care about kids and care about education take the approximately 40 mile drive up U.S. 23 and I-75 to show your support. At the very least you can purchase a copy of the book and have her sign it.

The main Flint Library is located at 1026 E. Kearsley St.

Top Secret Senate GOP budget plan ignores advice of Wall Street

Standard & Poors, one of the top Wall Street rating agencies in the country, said in a report Monday that Michigan could see further declines in its credit rating if the Legislature does not get off the dime and address the structural budget deficits facing the state, according to a report by the subscription only Gongwer News Service.

Isn’t that what the governor has been saying for months?

The report, called "Prompt Action Key to Improving Michigan Credit Outlook,” went on to say that this is the most critical legislative session in a decade, and it said Michigan's outlook could return to stable if the Legislature passes a tax restructuring package and acts on other structural budget issues. Standard & Poors already had the state on a negative credit outlook, the only state it has ranked as such.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) said the report indicates more bad news for the state if action isn't taken soon, but he said the 2006-07 budget still should be resolved with cuts.

Yet Bishop and the Senate Republicans continue to play politics and hide their top-secret budget plan from the public.

As you recall, the Senate Republicans rejected the Governor’s Executive Order of Feb. 8 that addressed the $3 billon budget shortfall without a plan of their own. The EO would address the shortfall with a mix of cuts in spending, enacting a 2 penny tax on services that will cost the average tax payer about $1.33 a week and increasing taxes on such unhealthy items that cost millions in health care, such as cigarettes and liquor.

The Senate plan is still the most closely-guarded secret in a town full of journalists and reports, pundits, staffers and politicians, and the Senate GOP continues to play politics by keeping the plan secret. Their plan calls for just cuts and one-time accounting tricks and gimmicks to try and balance the budget instead of addressing the structural problem that got the state a negative credit rating. Legislative offices have been flooded with letters, phone calls and emails urging them not to enact the cuts the Governor has proposed, and that’s one reason the GOP plan is so secret

This is exactly what the Republicans did last summer in a cheap, blatant campaign ploy by eliminating the Single Business Tax early, and it also caused the state a drop in its credit rating. The lack of a known business tax is keeping companies from moving to Michigan because of the uncertainly.

Call Sen. Bishop at (517) 373-2417 and urge him to make his secret plan public and available to the people who will pay the freight: the citizens.

Mar 11, 2007

Coulter appearance reinforces the general perception that Livingston County is a safe haven for racists and bigots of all ilks

In a story that sounds all too familiar to those of us who have lived in Livingston County for a few years, the Livingston County Press & Argus reported today a Hamburg Township family were greeted by the words "Go Nigger" scrawled on the wall of their Portage Lake home by vandals.

The hate crime that occurred March 4 is the third time the family has experienced racial vandalism. This time around, the newspaper reports mattresses had been cut up with a knife, clothing had been shredded and spray-painted and paint was also sprayed on their curtains and on walls.

The ironic thing is the family is not African-American, but it was close enough for this group of cowards. The mother is of Puerto Rican descent. The mother also reported she has been the target of racial slurs before. In Howell, she said, she was walking down the street when someone shouted at her, "Hey, nigger."

The family only relocated to Michigan last August, but apparently the family is preparing to relocate to Arizona “where she did not feel the stares of prejudice or destruction of vandalism,” according to the P & A.

It’s kind of ironic this story comes on the heels of news of a protest against right-wing hatemonger Ann Coulter’s appearance in October at the cost of $30,000 at Cleary University’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series after Coulter's recent use of the word "faggot" when referring to former U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards.

I have been told by people like Patrick Flynn, a former Republican candidate for Congress in the 8th District, that no one can be “beaten to death by words” or hurt by words. Maybe you should tell that to that Hamburg Township family.

Local Republicans have lined up to say they condemn Coulter’s hateful and discriminatory words, but they love her just the same. Why? A pretty hypocritical position at best. If they support this hatemonger they are simply supporting everything she says. They also claim she is being censored. Not true. Personally, I want her to speak because she does represent the views of Republicans in this county, but we don’t have to pay someone $30,000 to say mean, hateful lies and spout prejudice.

The First amendment only prohibits government from suppressing speech. Cleary University is a private business, not the government. I don’t agree with the decision by Matt Evans, chair of the Livingston County Democratic Party, to try and stop her appearance, but some of the things he has posted on other blogs is starting to change my mind.

He said her appearance in Livingston County reinforces the general perception that Livingston County is a safe haven for racists and bigots of all ilks, like Coulter. In light of the racial vandalism story today, I can’t argue with his logic.
He also said that by paying Coulter a substantial fee to appear, Cleary University and the other sponsors are partners in the spreading of her liturgy of hate. “While I fully endorse the concept that the University should be a marketplace of ideas, I maintain that racism and bigotry are not products worthy of barter in that marketplace.”

The Republicans apparently had a letter-writing party last week because five pro-Coulter letters-to-the-editor appeared in the Daily Press & Argus today. After reading them, it’s not hard to see how a family of Puerto Rican descent can have the words "Go Nigger" spray-painted on the walls of their home.

“Ann Coulter is certainly somewhat controversial, but no more so than many others on the opposite side of the fence. Political speech is what the First Amendment is all about.”

Sorry, hate speech is not defended by the 1st Amendment. Show me one person on the “opposite side of the fence” that comes close to Coulter’s shtick?

“…We will require that our minor students study "literature" inundated with these words — and worse — all while we pay for it on the taxpayers' dime.
You don't see the hypocrisy in this? How about we just say that you need to take Ann Coulter's word as a part of the entire speech, which had political, literary and artistic value, and, therefore, shouldn't be offensive to anyone.”

This gem is from Vicky Fyke the leader of the anti-gay hate group known as “LOVE” and the former advisor of the Livingston County Teen Age Republicans. We know she supports discrimination against homosexuals just like Coulter. Anything Coulter says or even writes can never be considered literature. Coulter is facing accusations she even plagiarized some of the trashy books she writes. There is no value in what Coulter says or writes.

“Regarding the presidential "want-to-be" you referred to in a recent talk, you evidently know more about him than the media is willing to publish. Although I did hear that he made a ton of money in the past as a "slip-and-fall" lawyer; and during his tenure in Congress was virtually invisible. Ms. Coulter, you are a fortress for the traditional American values.”

This genius is accusing Edwards of being a homosexual and the press is covering it up. Edwards is not Mark Foley or the “Rev.” Ted Haggard. What American values is Coulter representing? Hate, prejudice and lying? Far too often “traditional Values” has come to be code words for prejudice and discrimination, and that’s certainly the case here.

“Author and TV personality Ann Coulter's speaking visit to Cleary University next October is now to be protested and, if the looney left has its way, banned altogether. All because she jokingly used a word to describe homosexuals.
Freedom of speech? Not for conservatives. Express your views about an "alternate lifestyle" or what you feel is filth in some school books, and you are accused of advocating hatred or censorship.”

You mean just like the vandals that jokingly used the words "Go Nigger?” When are prejudice, discrimination and hate funny?

“Opposition to homosexual activity should be welcomed in this council; instead it is not tolerated. I do not necessarily agree with Coulter's choice of words, but it is within her rights, as damaging as it might be for her. I certainly do not agree with this so-called "diversity" council and its narrow-minded and, yes, conservative proclamations of what is to be included in its group.
Perhaps homosexual behavior is what we need eliminated in our county.
Oops, did I offend?”

Yes, you did offend. I guess its OK to discriminate against a class of people. How about African-Americans?

Hate group’s ‘Plan B’ is a bust

In perhaps the biggest anti-climatic decisions ever, the anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) is dropping its four-month mission to censor Nobel and Pulitzer-winning literature, according to the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

The decision has a lot to do with the group’s ridiculous claim that the “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them,” Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five” were pornographic, but that absurd claim was turned down by the law enforcement agencies it lodged a complaint with.

Vicki Fyke, the leader of the hate group and the former advisor of the Livingston County Teen Age Republicans, was quoted last month in the P & A as saying the group had a back-up plan when the baseless complaint to law enforcement that the books used at Howell High School were pornographic failed, but she would only reveal it when that scheme failed.

"We do have backup plans," she said. "We'll have to decide on what 'Plan B' would be. We're certainly not going to let it go."

Apparently plan B is nothing, and Fyke said last week the group would work to elect candidates sympathetic to its causes, rather than pursue the books issue. It bears remembering that’s how this entire mess got started. Current Howell Public School board and “love” member Wendy Day snuck by and was elected to the board last May, and she was a major instigator of this embarrassing mess that wasted tax dollars, wasted the time of the FBI and gave the Howell community another black eye.

Here is perhaps the most ridiculous quote of all from Fyke’s more than 15 minutes of fame from this embarrassment, trying to blame the School Board for the mess caused by “love.”

“We recognize that, had our school board shown some leadership over these past two years, our community would have been spared a lot of embarrassment," she said.

What she really means is they should have listened to a small-minded but very vocal minority group of extremist censors and banned books. Maybe if Fyke took the time to actually read the books maybe our community would also have been spared a lot of embarrassment.

“Love” is not saying whom it will endorse, but when it does all sane, reasonable people should not vote for those candidates. Fyke claims the group is putting together an endorsement questionnaire, but does anybody really doubt they already know who they are endorsing?

In Howell there are two seats being contested by five candidates, including the incumbent, Jeannine Pratt. The candidates include, Dan Fondriest, 49, Genoa Township; William T. Harvey, 44, according to sources a strong Republican from Genoa Township; attorney Edwin J. Literski, 52, Genoa Township, a strong Republican; Pratt, 46, City of Howell, and Douglass Moore, 54, from Oceola Township.

The P& A reports that Harvey – whose son was one of the first people involved in the book controversy after he complained to his father about "Freedom Writers” -
said he agreed with LOVE's stance on the books, to the extent that the books were not appropriate for English classes because they focused on social problems.
"I agree that students should not be reading what would be considered adult content in an English class when there is so much better material to choose from," he said.
Harvey added that the curriculum should better reflect the overall district community.
"Look at the makeup of Livingston County ... there's a high number of churches, religious people, conservative people," he said. "By choosing a book that has material that is going to be offensive to many of your clientele, is that a wise choice to invite controversy?"

Cleary, Harvey will get “love’s” endorsement, and he is likely a “love” member. The obvious question is how can you expand your mind and become educated if all you read or study about is in your own small, little world, or why his son did not just opt for another book?

The other candidate sure to get the “love” endorsement will be Moore.

Moore also said he didn't see much educational value in the books.
"I wasn't sure how these books advance education," he said. "I don't see that there couldn't have been better ones to use."

Mar 8, 2007

We ain’t faking, whole lotta denouncing going on

We have lots of denouncing going on of right-wing hatemonger Ann Coulter and her use of the word "faggot" to describe a former U.S. Senator and current Presidential candidate, but no one seems to know what that really means.

The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus reported today the Livingston 2001 Diversity Council is the latest group or person to denounce her latest outrageous outburst – actually pretty tame compared to some of her other whoppers - but the group with the mission of “making the community ever more welcoming, harmonious and prosperous for people of all races, creeds and backgrounds” said it would not protest her fall speaking appearance at the county's Cleary University campus. Then why bother?

The blond – to bastardize the nickname of a former Detroit Red Wing and Dallas Star – little ball of hate is scheduled to speak at Cleary University’s Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series in October for the princely sum of $30,000 plus expenses for two hours of hobnobbing with all those people in Livingston County who are denouncing her slurs.

Candye Hinton, vice president of the Diversity Council, said the council's mission supports acceptance of all forms of sexual orientation in Livingston County. She said the council may host a program about accepting all forms of sexual orientation later this year.

I’m really torn about this. I detest all forms of censorship, so I have no problem letting her speak. She actually turns my stomach when I see her on Faux "news," and I wonder why someone so rich, popular and attractive is so hateful and sick. On the other hand, I am a big supporter of Cleary University because it’s a huge asset to this community. My wife’s family even sponsors a scholarship in her parent’s name. I think Cleary made a huge mistake by inviting her, especially at $30,000, and I would like to know why they made that awful decision. I don’t want to see Cleary hurt, but I think if all of the publicity stopped today they would still have a full house because this sick woman represents the real views of the Republic Party.

I don’t believe hate speech and slurs are protected by the 1st Amendment, but I do not support censorship. Let her speak.

I think the best thing we can do is to treat her appearance like the City of Lansing did a few years ago when the Klan staged a protest on the Capitol steps. After all, there’s not a lot of difference between Coulter and the Klan. Lansing held diversity rallies away from Downtown and ignored the Klan as much as possible.

However, I see nothing wrong with people with handmade signs near the campus letting her know what we think of her vicious, mean attacks. But let her speak. She helps sane and reasonable people realize the difference between the Republic Party and the Democrats.

Let her speak.

What I would like to see is for her to give back the $30,000 and just take the money for her expenses. She can just get on Faux "news" the next day and call some one a dyke, faggot or call Sen. Clinton a lesbian and make another million bucks.

Community anxiously waits for ‘love’ PAC plan B

The decision yesterday by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy that the four books the anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) is trying to ban from the classroom at Howell High School do not violate any obscenity laws was a little anti-climatic.

The state and federal decisions came just three days after Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse reached the same conclusion, and both the state and feds agreed there was absolutely no reason to overturn a local decision.

After forcing a review of the books by the school district, the elected school board voted to retain the books in the AP junior English class, so early last month Vicki Fyke, the leader of the hate group and the former advisor of the Livingston County Teen Age Republicans, sent a letter to Murphy, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District; Cox; and Morse claiming the four books violate child pornography laws and further made the ridiculous claim that the books' presence in high school classrooms violates the law by disseminating sexually explicit material to minors. Shockingly, the U.S. attorney actually took the bizarre step of having the FBI investigate.

As you know – as the world, unfortunately knows - “love” has been waging a losing book banning battle for the past four months against “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them,” Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five.” The group falsely claims they are pornographic.

Cox basically said the community, in the form of the elected school board, made the decision, and he has no legal authority to overturn or change that.

"Your community expresses its wishes on how the schools are going to be administered by the election of individual school board members," Cox wrote in a March 6 letter that appeared in the Livingston County Daily Press and Argus. "The attorney general has no statutory or supervisory authority over the elected board of education and cannot, by law, oversee the performance of the board in its duties, responsibilities and judgments."

Murphy simply said the books do not violate federal law.

"The material complained of was thoroughly and carefully reviewed by the FBI and this office. We have concluded that the material submitted nor it's inclusion as part of the schools required English curriculum constitutes a violation of federal law. No further action will be taken by our office."

Fyke, usually very quick to fire off a press release, has been very silent, and that includes the blog of the school board member who is also a “love” member.

However, Fyke has said she has a “plan B” up her sleeve if this ploy fails, so we have most likely will not heard the last of this fringe group.

I hope we remember the trouble and grief this hate group caused when we go to the polls for the school board elections in May.

Mar 7, 2007

Local GOP continues to support Ann Coulter’s disgusting comments

In a classic case of understatement, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus is reporting that Cleary University has no plans to cancel a planned appearance by right-wing hate-monger Ann Coulter at its Economic Club Speakers Luncheon Series, despite Coulter's recent use of the word "faggot" when referring to Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards. Is anyone surprised?

In an exercise in futility the Livingston County Democratic Party is petitioning Cleary University to have Coulter cut from the series. If that fails, the local Democrats plan to mount a protest. I am one of those local Democrats, and I say let her speak. We support free speech no matter how vile and disgusting.

Every time she opens her mouth people realizes what the Republican Party really stands for. Calling Edwards a “faggot” is tame compared to some of her other despicable rants, and the more she makes them the more money she sticks in her pocket. She is making $30,000 plus expenses for two hours of work, and apparently that’s the reduced rate for colleges and universities

It pays very well to call leaders “fagots, calling the First Lady a lesbian, calling the President of the United States a homosexual and telling women who lost their husbands in the 9/11 attacks they enjoyed their husband’s deaths.

This entire situation is so full of conflicts of interest it’s not funny, and it illustrates she will speak even if the Pope asked Cleary not to invite her.

This is the fourth year for the series, and in the past they invited people who actually had something to do with business, like Florine Mark and other entrepreneurs and business people. Coulter is the first political person ever invited, and it’s not by chance. This year's guests include two journalists, and one rightwing whack job. Mike Jensen, a journalist and economic analyst for NBC Nightly News, the Today Show and The New York Times, is one speaker. The other is Steven Emerson, an internationally recognized journalist and expert on terrorism and national security. Emerson is known for having predicted, before September 11, 2001, that Islamists would launch a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and for having warned the U.S. Congress in 1998 of the danger posed by Osama bin Laden.

CORRECTION: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick spoke at the series in 2004. He spoke on the relationship between the state’s largest city and its suburbs, including Livingston County.

Republican Congressman Mike Rogers is one of the sponsors of the series, so we know where he stands. The Press & Argus is also a sponsor, so we can expect no tough questions of Cleary University or its president.

The Press & Argus article also quoted Alan Filip, chairman of the Livingston County Republican Party, who denounced Coulter's comments, but not her appearance. Filip said Coulter doesn't speak directly for Republicans. Why is it they always denounce her disgusting comments, but shove dollar bills at her and fawn over her? Sorry, Mr. Filip, she does speak for you. We also know of Filip’s problem with the truth in the short time he ahs been chair of the county GOP.

We also know why Coulter is the only political figure to ever appear at Cleary. Filip’s wife, Janet Filip, is Cleary’s Director of Development and Alumni Relations, and she is responsible for booking speakers.

It’s funny that all these Republicans continue to be “appalled at her comments” every time she makes them, but they are still fans, like Bill Rogers — chairman of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners and brother of Mike Rogers. Bill is a good county commissioner, but I never suspected he respected Coulter. He told the paper he’s “…a fan of Coulter's no-holds-barred take on politics — said he was appalled by her recent remarks.”

Cleary University President Tom Sullivan said Livingston County is "healthy" enough to take any potentially offensive comments in stride.
"Our community is one that's healthy and one that is tolerant, and I would be surprised if anyone speaking within the county would change that," he said.

Maybe he hasn’t heard about the anti-gay hate group drawing national attention by trying to ban books.

Banned books broaden student’s horizons

A lot of words have been written about the anti-gay hate group known as the “LOVE” PAC’s (Livingston Organization for Values in Education) misguided attempt to censor and ban “The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them,” Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison's first novel, "The Bluest Eye," an acclaimed memoir written by Richard Wright in 1945, "Black Boy " and the classic Kurt Vonnegut novel "Slaughterhouse Five” from Howell High School’s curriculum.

But the best opinion piece on this subject I have read to date comes from Livingston County Daily Press & Argus News Editor Mike Mallot. Mike made the obvious point on why the books should be in the curriculum for AP junior English.

What has been missing in the entire debate about the controversial books used in Howell Public Schools has been the question of why students should be required to read such books. Vicki Fyke and the Livingston Organization for Values in Education, of course, made their points that those books contain obscenities and explicit content to the degree that they should not be included on the reading list for an 11th grade advanced English class. The Howell school board approved the books to be a part of the curriculum anyway.
Simply put, students should learn about what other people go through in their lives. If the point of education is to broaden one's horizons and to understand the world better, we should all find out a little bit more about other people's lives. We should know what they go through. We should come to an understanding of how they arrived at the perspectives they hold. And that means exploring the environment they grew up in and reading or hearing about their experiences.

Kathleen Zaenger, director of the Howell Carnegie District Library, actually said it best. She said she could not imagine the books being labeled as pornography. She agreed that the books listed in Fyke's complaint should be considered classics of American literature.
"But that doesn't mean they are easy to read," she said. "They are searing stories. But they really do build empathy for other people."

As you may know, Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse ruled yesterday that assigning the books does not violate any criminal laws because the Board of Education had approved them, and the books are not harmful to minors as defined by the law when taken as a whole. The so-called “love” group quickly shot off one of its press releases spinning the story to say Morse agrees with them. What?

As we also know, even though the books in question went through a gauntlet of three separate committees of professional educators, two administrators and approval by the elected school board to be included in the curriculum, the administration still honored “love’s” request to review the books. But when they did know get the desired effect of getting the books banned, they tried this ridiculous investigation route.

After that fails, they have at least one more trick up their sleeves they are keeping secret. After all of this, there are still some misguided people out there who still say and believe “if all sides got together and sat down and discussed these matters an agreement could be reached.” The only result “love” wants is the books banned, and there is no compromise possible. How much more proof of that do you need?